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.
While many Apple fans and IT professionals that support iOS devices in the workplace are eagerly awaiting tomorrow’s Apple announcement, a group of Apple in the enterprise experts are meeting at MacSysAdmin 2012 – a conference for European IT professionals tasked with managing Macs and iOS devices in business, education, and other workplace settings. The annual conference traditionally posts videos of its sessions online for free (as does the Penn State MacAdmins Conference that was held in the U.S. this spring).
That isn’t the only major conference for Mac and iOS IT professionals, however. October brings two other major events (one of them free) and there are a number of excellent smaller events scheduled throughout the fall.
Apple will launch the next iPhone (presumably named the iPhone 5) along with iOS 6 tomorrow. The new iPhone is expected to pack a range of updates that will make it a much more significant release than last year’s iPhone 4S. The biggest expectation is that the iPhone will include 4G LTE support and that, unlike the new iPad, it will support LTE bands used outside of North America.
We won’t know all the details of the iPhone 5 until Apple’s unveiling at the Yerba Buena Center. There are, however, three important issues that business users and IT managers will need to in mind during and after following tomorrow’s launch event – all three of which could have a significant impact on bring your own device (BYOD) programs that encourage users to bring their personal mobile devices into the office.
The success of devices like the iPhone and iPad in healthcare has become so pronounced that the Department of Health And Human Services has begun to single-out the use mobile devices as part of the meaningful use requirements for electronic health records (EHR) systems. In addition to identifying mobile device use, the agency has also taken steps towards explicitly regulating mobile device security needs in the healthcare industry.
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.
One of the first secure business solutions for the iPhone and iPad was Good for Enterprise, a secure collaboration tool that allows companies to separate business email, calendar, and contact systems from Apple’s standard Mail, Calendar, and Contacts apps. Going beyond simply separating work accounts and data from a user’s personal accounts, Good’s alternatives securely encrypt all data and must be unlocked using credentials other than the passcode used to unlock an iOS device.
Good released a significant update to Good for Enterprise this week, one that makes the solution more streamlined, user-friendly, and offers powerful new features – some of which are worth considering for their business functionality as well as their innate security.
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.
Secure enterprise file sharing and file management vendor Accellion has added Mac support to its file sync system for mobile workers known as kitedrive. As we noted earlier this year in covering the launch of kitedrive for iOS, Accellion describes kitedrive as “Dropbox for the enterprise.” That’s a pretty good description. kitedrive syncs content for offline access to business documents, which are securely encrypted during transmission and while stored on the a mobile device, PC, or Mac.
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.
The iPad became a big hit in the K-12 education market over the past year. Pioneering schools that brought Apple’s tablet into the classroom last school year proved that the iPad can be a excellent learning tool – one that has immense power to transform education.
As the new school year begins, and hundreds of thousands of students across the U.S. become iPad users thanks to one-to-one iPad deployments, there’s already talk that the iPad’s success in schools will be short-lived. The belief is that iPads will quickly be replaced by tablets running Microsoft’s Windows RT or Windows 8.
That assumption is absurd and delusional.
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.
Microsoft has positioned its Windows RT tablet OS as an iPad competitor, particularly in business and enterprise markets. Windows RT devices, which includes the ARM-based version of Microsoft’s Surface, are designed to be less expensive than Intel-powered Windows 8 tablets and are meant to push the new touch-oriented Metro interface.
Microsoft has even gone so far as to introduce special licensing terms for businesses that will offer free access to a virtual desktop from Windows RT devices while other platforms, including the iPad, will need to buy a new type of license for such access.
Windows RT would seem a perfect choice for businesses that want to support mobile employees with a tablet, except that Windows RT seems keep hitting one wall after another – the latest being that two of Microsoft’s longstanding OEM partners have decided to pass on creating Windows RT tablets.
Another study of the bring your own device (BYOD) phenomenon concludes that the trend of employees bringing the personal iPhones, iPads, and other devices into the office shows no sign of slowing down. It also confirms previous reports that indicate many personal devices being used in the workplace don’t have even basic security features enabled.
The study by Coalfire, a company the specializes in IT risk management services, paints a particularly grim picture of the lack of security for iOS and Android devices in the workplace. With the BYOD trend show no signs of slowing or ending, Coalfire CEO Rick Dakin, notes that companies cannot afford to keep ignoring mobile security concerns.
I’ve been a big proponent of the iPad in business since Apple first announced its tablet more than two and a half years ago. In that time, the iPad has more than proved its value in companies of all different sizes and across virtually every industry. That said, the iPad isn’t a fit for every job within every workplace. If a company is considering investing in iPads for its employees, one of the first things that company and its IT leaders need understand is how the iPad will be used.
That seems like a pretty basic step in the procurement process, but it’s one that seems to be getting overlooked by some companies – including one very large enterprise company that should have known better.
When Dropbox acknowledged its recent data breach last week, the company noted that it will be adding a range of security solutions in an effort prevent such a breach from occurring again. One of the technologies that Dropbox plans to implement is two factor authentication, which requires another identifying item beyond your username and password to grant you access to your account.
The second item in two factor authentication can be any one of a range of technologies like a smart card that needs to be swiped, a USB flash drive or other mobile that contains security certifications, a one-time user password token like RSA’s SecurID, or a biometric input like a fingerprint scan.
One company has another interesting option, however, your location.
Earlier this week, I took a look at the ways mobile management has changedsince Apple introduced mobile management features in iOS 4 two years ago. The biggest change has been the evolution of what constitutes effective and secure mobile management, which has shifted from securing the physical and operating system features of iOS, Android, and BlackBerry devices to securing the business data that is stored on those devices. That shift has refocused IT leaders and professionals on the need to secure data by securing mobile apps – a type of solution referred to as mobile app management or MAM.
Our friends over at Apperian, one of the major MAM vendors, decided to share their thoughts with me (and you) in a video. Check it out after the jump.
The number of personally-owned iPads, iPhones, and other mobile devices that professionals bring into office is expected to more than double between now and 2014. That means the businesses that have so far been lax about considering or planning an official bring your own device (BYOD) program and/or establishing security policies around BYOD are going to need to play catch up – and they’ll need to get started as soon as possible.
There are plenty of stories out there about the explosive growth of mobile technology in the workplace. The trend towards bring your on device (BYOD) models in which employees are allowed or encouraged to bring their own iPhones, iPads, and other devices into the office is driving a massive expansion of the number of mobile devices used for work tasks. At the same time, the annual (or even more frequent) device an OS release cycles that have become common are driving up diversity of devices and resetting the mobile technology playing field every few months.
That constant change is forcing the IT professionals to adapt to new devices, apps, use cases, network models, and security threats faster than anything the IT industry has ever seen.
This is particularly visible in the mobile management space. A year ago, the primary method for handling mobile device and data security was to manage and lock down the device itself using one of dozens of mobile device management (MDM) suites on the market. Over the past six to nine months, however, MDM has been replaced by mobile app management (MAM) as the best way to secure business data. That’s a warp-speed transition in the mindset and goals of IT professionals.
Registration is now open for MacTech Conference 2012. The annual conference, which is a great learning and networking experience for IT professionals and developers, will be held October 17 – 19 in Los Angeles. A pre-registration discount is available for anyone who registers by the end of August.
The conference is sponsored by MacTech magazine and was launched in 2010, the year that Apple chose to focus its annual Worldwide Developers Conference solely on iOS. Since then, the conference has grown into a major event for IT professionals that need to support Macs and/or iOS devices in business, enterprise, and education environments. The conference has also become a serious event for Mac and iOS developers.
The number of companies investing in mobile management and security solutions related to bring your own device (BYOD) programs is growing, but not nearly as fast as the number of companies that are actually offering BYOD to their employees. The result is that many companies are putting themselves and their data at risk by jumping onto the BYOD bandwagon too quickly and without properly securing employee iPhones, iPads, and other devices or the business data that is stored on them.