Microsoft’s Active Directory is a core component in virtually every enterprise network. When I looked at Centrify’s DirectControl for Mobile, I singled out its deep integration with Active Directory as a major feature and a leg up over some of the other mobile device management (MDM) suites on the market. That’s because Active Directory is an essential piece of technology infrastructure in the vast majority of businesses.
Despite being a Microsoft solution (and a feature of Windows Server), Active Directory is a technology that all Apple IT professionals should understand and have some skills in using. With the Xserve gone and OS X Server headed to more limited uses since the release of Lion last summer, Active Directory is becoming a de facto standard for Macs and iOS devices as much as it is for Windows PCs.
Some arguments about Apple never seem die despite the fact that reality has moved on. Arguments like the Mac not being compatible with Windows file sharing or disk formats and that all Apple products being inherently more expensive than any competitors. This morning, Computerworld’s Preston Gralla pulled several of these outdated arguments together to support his opinion that Apple would never unseat Microsoft in the enterprise.
Virtually every argument in this piece is easy to debunk with facts. What’s more important than responding to these outdated myths, however, is realizing that Apple doesn’t want to unseat Microsoft from its current place in the enterprise. Microsoft is actually doing a lot of enterprise heavy lifting for Apple.
One of the challenges of BYOD programs is the need secure corporate data on an employee’s personal device. That usually includes locking down the device and applying varying management profiles to it. This can be as non-intrusive as requiring a passcode meeting certain criteria or it can be very restrictive and limit core features and services like iCloud or Siri on the iPhone 4S.
While there’s a technical challenge to securing employee-owned devices, there’s also a personal challenge. It’s not a small demand to ask for someone’s brand new iPhone or iPad and impose limits on what they can do with it, even if that means something as trivial as enforcing a passcode policy. It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that employees sometimes object to that intrusion, particularly when it comes to more severe management requirements.
The question is: how does IT respond to this situation?
The consumerization of IT along with the growing trend of BYOD programs in business is requiring virtually all companies to at least look at mobile device management (MDM) solutions. There are dozens of MDM vendors out there that support iOS as well as most flavors of Android. The cost and complexity of implementing mobile management can vary widely depending on the extended feature sets of MDM products.
Until now, most MDM vendors offered enterprise-style licensing programs and there were very few low cost cost options. That changed this morning with Amtel’s announcement that it will be offering a free cloud-based MDM solution that supports a basic set or features for iPhones, iPads, and some Android devices.
Windows Phone 7 hasn’t been the runaway blockbuster that Microsoft probably envisioned when it launched nearly a year and a half ago. Despite advertising campaigns and a strategic alliance with Nokia, Windows Phone use still ranks well below iOS, Android, and BlackBerry use. But new details about the platforms future that were leaked earlier this week show Microsoft may have a solid strategy for gaining marketshare with the next major Windows Phone update, which will likely coincide with the launch of Windows 8 for PCs and/or tablets.
One thing that seems very clear from this new information is Microsoft seems to be taking cues from Apple’s playbook when it comes to creating an ecosystem of devices – like making it easy to shift apps from a phone experience to a larger tablet experience.
The question is, can Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 on tablets challenge Apple’s iPhone and iPad dominance in the business realms?
Business and technology are two words that have gone together for decades. Business and Apple technology – well, not so much. Let’s face it, Apple made a name of itself by calling out “the man” and not bending to his authority. That rebellious attitude and freedom to be yourself has always typified Mac users and it’s a razor sharp contrast to the image of guys in suits with BlackBerrys and Windows-based laptops.
So, it may be surprising to realize that one in five people use Apple products in the workplace. How do you explain that? Easy. Apple is launching nothing less than a revolution of what technology means in the workplace, and the iPhone and iPad are its agents. Over the next few years, expect nothing less than the total transformation of business and the workplace after Steve Jobs’s own vision.
The first warning shots of that revolution were fired in January 2007 when Steve Jobs announced the iPhone. Most people then didn’t realize the iPhone was going to change the business world – RIM actually sarcastically thanked Apple for creating what its executives considered a toy.