Last week FileMaker launched a new campaign to encourage businesses to adopt the company’s flagship database product line as an app development platform for the iPhone and iPad. The move is unique and the idea of FileMaker as an enterprise development solution does have its appeal – creating FileMaker apps requires no software development knowledge or experience and it can deliver native performance and functionality that HTML 5 web apps can’t.
At VMWorld, this week VMWare showed of Horizon Mobile for iOS – an enterprise solution that separates business apps and content on an iOS device from a user’s personal apps, documents, and data. It’s an iOS version of a tool that VMWare previously demoed, but hasn’t yet shipped, for Android devices. While the name and the goal of Horizon mobile is essentially the same on both platforms, the company is taking a vastly different approach for iPhones and iPads.
Not only is the iOS approach different, it’s also nowhere near as revolutionary – other mobile enterprise companies have using similar approaches for a while and the one truly distinctive feature is one that Apple might not approve for distribution.
With the release of iOS 6, Apple will offer business users a range of new features. A few of which are VIP email filtering (already in Mountain Lion) with custom notifications, more options when declining a phone call on the iPhone, much-needed privacy options, and Apple’s new Do Not Disturb feature – which should help some mobile professionals to “switch off” after work and maybe even get a good night’s sleep.
iOS updates are generally designed to be user-friendly and easy enough that anyone can manage to install them. As with any major OS or business critical software upgrade, however, there may be unforeseen issues with iOS 6 – particularly when it comes to internal iOS apps and iOS access to enterprise systems.
An iOS 6 upgrade policy and strategy is something that every IT department should have in place before Apple releases iOS 6. For businesses that actively support user devices in the workplace through a BYOD (bring your own device) program, that upgrade strategy is even more critical.
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.
Like many federal agencies, the Department of Veterans Affairs has embarked on the journey of integrating iPhones and iPads as mobile solutions. The agency currently has 20,000 mobile devices that includes iPhones and iPads along with some BlackBerries and a small number of Android devices. Despite the range of devices, the VA has been very active in trying to eliminate mobile data breaches and, according to the VA’s director of Mobile and Security Assurance Donald Kachman, the agency’s campaign has been extremely successful.
Kachman credits encryption technologies with as a major factor in that success – 99% of all VA data is now secured around the clock on mobile devices and desktop PCs. The security approach is one that can be a model for any organization.
While bring your own device (BYOD) programs that encourage employees to use their personal iPhones, iPads, and other devices in the office increases productivity and employee satisfaction, the trend is also turning those employees into workaholics. That’s not entirely a new realization – we’ve covered the potential impact of the BYOD trend on the work/life balance before (including a recent study that showed that BYOD programs actually improve that balance for IT professionals).
The latest research on BYOD’s impact on workers shows two additional insights – a significant number of employees are footing the bill (sometimes a very big bill) for mobile data service while on the road for work.
Many school districts around the country are embarking on new territory this back to school season – deploying hundreds or thousands of iPads to students. Most of the deployments will be one-to-one initiatives where every student receives a school-owned iPad to use for this school year or their entire scholastic career. Planning such a roll out isn’t easy, but schools and districts making the shift this year have the advantage of looking what worked and didn’t work from counterparts that pioneered the iPad in the classroom last year.
One school district, Lexington County School District One of South Carolina, has served as a model for many other schools around the country. The district offers a lot of insight into the technical requirements, education policy issues, and roll out processes in such a colossal undertaking.
According a study released earlier this month, Apple’s iOS is becoming the most popular platform for enterprise app development – with 53.2% of developers picking iOS for corporate app development compared to 37.4% of developers standing behind Android. RIM’s BlackBerry, the old guard of enterprise mobility, came in a distant fourth behind Windows Phone with only 2% of developers supporting it.
That’s great news for Apple and the iPhone and iPad in business and enterprise environments. Apple even makes enterprise distribution possible outside of the App Store. Mobile App Management (MAM) and enterprise app store solutions provide efficient and effective distribution and update methods for enterprise apps.
Business to business (B2B) apps and solutions, however, present a different kind of challenge – one for which Apple has a solution, even if it isn’t a perfect solution.
The perception of the BlackBerry as the most secure and manageable mobile platform seems to be faltering. According to a new report, senior IT administrators now consider Apple’s iOS to be the most secure and manageable platform – despite the fact that RIM offers ten times the number of security and device management policies that Apple provides in iOS.
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.