iOS 6 will deliver a lot of business features, but what about enterprise/IT integration?
It’s been over two years since Apple unveiled iOS 4 with mobile management features designed to make the iPhone and iPad a significantly better corporate citizen. During those years, the landscape of business and enterprise mobility has changed dramatically. RIM has collapsed and will never truly recover, Microsoft has doubled down on the interface it launched late in 2010 with no guarantee of success, and Android has become much more enterprise friendly. Perhaps more important is the fact that idea of mobile management and security has shifted from a focus on devices to a focus on securing data and managing mobile apps.
As all this has happened, Apple’s mobile management framework, which is the system that all mobile management vendors plug into in order to secure and manage iOS devices, has essentially stagnated. With iOS 6 on the horizon, lets look at the areas that Apple needs to address if it wants iOS to remain one of the preferred mobile platforms for business.
Apple’s volume purchase program falls short for many schools and businesses.
Apple’s Volume Purchase Program (VPP) is the company’s half-hearted attempt to deliver some form of enterprise licensing program for the iOS App Store. The program does make it marginally easier for businesses to bulk purchase and deploy apps to iPhones and iPads than telling employees to buy apps and then reimbursing them, but it still leaves a lot to be desired. As we reported earlier this summer, many businesses and school still feel Apple doesn’t meet their app purchase and deployment needs.
Mobile app management (MAM) vendor App 47 summed up some of the key issues and how it can help companies deal with them as part of the company’s summer lecture series on app management.
Apple Configurator update brings stability and performance improvements, but few new management options.
Apple quietly updated its Apple Configurator utility that businesses and schools can use to manage iOS devices. The update brings with it relatively little new functionality to the free tool. Instead it focuses mainly on reliability and performance improvements. The update does, however, introduce some options for handling user content and user-installed apps.
Apple is offering free webcasts on using iPads, iBooks Author, and iTunes in education
One of the ways that working in education is different from almost any other industries is the annual summer break. The summer break let’s schools and districts tackle large projects in ways that simply aren’t possible in other fields. Deploying a brand-new network, building an expansion, and taking part in professional development programs are just a few examples.
With the end of the school year, Apple is taking the opportunity to remind schools and educators about a free professional development program that it’s offering. Called the Tune In Series, the program is a series of webcast events covering the iPad and many of the technologies that Apple introduced during its education event in January. The series is running every week through the end of August.
If Apple is planning a major iTunes update, IT pros have a few things on their iTunes/iOS wish list
Various reports indicate that Apple is working on a major overhaul of iTunes that it plans to launch later this year. Those reports indicate that the update will be focused on consumer-oriented features like improved app/content discovery, music and media sharing, and greater iCloud integration. There’s also the possibility that Apple might split out some iTunes features into separate apps much like the company has done in iOS – the most recent example being the Podcasts app that it launched earlier this week.
Splitting iTunes into discrete parts is an attractive prospect, particularly for businesses and IT professionals. iTunes has become a bloated hodgepodge of functionality over the years. As a result, IT departments typically face a conundrum about whether to support or even allow employees with iOS devices to use iTunes on workplace computers.
Many businesses still feel that the App Store doesn’t truly address their needs
As more and more companies move forward with BYOD programs and/or mobile strategies centered around streamlining workflows for mobile professionals, the idea of the enterprise app store has gone from being a nice add-on feature to being seen as necessity for businesses, schools, and government agencies.
Developing a strategy around mobile apps is seen as a core need by a solid majority of companies – 66% of organization are considering or implementing internal app stores according to a Sourcebits survey of over 6,000 enterprises. That doesn’t mean that actually pursuing an enterprise app store strategy is an easy prospect.
Despite some advances in volume purchasing by Apple, many companies feel that mobile app options are still sub-par for their needs, particularly when it comes to the purchasing process and volume licensing.
Apple releases its first update to its Apple Configurator iOS management app
Apple has released the first update for its free iOS Apple Configurator tool. Configurator, which we’ve covered in-depth since its release last month, allows organizations to mass configure and deploy iPads. The software works best as a stand-alone management solution for iOS devices that are shared among multiple users but it can also be part of a wider mobile management strategy.
The update includes a handful of bug fixes as well as a couple or major changes to the ways that Configurator works with app and ebook purchases.
Not everyone is ready to jump on the BYOD bandwagon
Yesterday, we covered a report that asked whether or not most people really want the option to bring their own technology into the office. That report showed that despite the media hype and the broad interest that CIOs and IT leaders are showing in BYOD programs, it may only be one out of every five employees that’s clamoring for the right to bring their personal iPad or iPhone into the office.
If that’s the case, why are so many users hesitant or even hostile to the BYOD model?
RIM needs iOS developers for unspecified "advanced" iOS management options
Yesterday’s news that RIM is looking to hire iOS developers with the intention of creating iOS apps unleashed a lot of speculation about what the BlackBerry manufacturer might be planning to release for iPhones and iPads. After initially being tight-lipped and refusing to comment on the job posting, RIM’s PR team revealed that its iOS app development plans center around its BlackBerry Fusion product.
BlackBerry Fusion is RIM’s new mobile device device management solution. The product, which RIM launched earlier this year along with the first major update to its PlayBook tablet’s OS, can manage BlackBerry and PlayBook devices. RIM plans to and support for managing iOS and Android devices as well.
RIM’s statement was pretty vague beyond confirming that it’s new management solution will be the focus of this position, leaving room for speculation as to what additional features an on-device app will enable under RIM’s new management console.
Apple Configurator - Is it right for your school or business?
One of the first things most IT folks will think about Apple Configurator is that it’s pretty limited compared to some of the mobile device management suites on the market (including Apple’s Profile Manager in Lion Server). MDM suites are designed to make device management as easy, automatic, and wireless as possible. Most include robust monitoring and reporting features – virtually all can use Apple’s push notification system to update a managed device at any time.
Configurator, on the other hand, requires connecting each iOS device to a Mac using a USB cable to perform any administrative tasks like configuring device settings, assigning a device to a user, installing apps, or updating iOS. That means that Configurator isn’t appropriate for a lot of businesses or workplace situations. Yet, for some organizations, Configurator is a more ideal tool than most MDM suites because of its hands-on approach.
So, what kinds of environments is Apple Configurator suited to?