There was a lot of excitement in the air this week, or at least on the Internet, about the release of iOS4 to upgrade the iPhone 3G and 3Gs (and oh, yeah, the new iPhone 4 availability to those that pre-ordered!). Currently, iPhone is a mile wide in enterprises, but only an inch deep–basically most enterprises have them, but are officially supported for very few users, if any at all. The new OS promises to change that with a plethora of updated management capabilities that moves it up the scale for security and support, though not anywhere near what can be done through RIM’s BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES). The new relase also promises enterprise application support where proprietary mobile applications can be designed, developed and downloaded over-the-air by the enterprise without Apple’s approval or having to use iTunes. Sounds great, right? But not so fast!
The problem is, any enterprise that wants to take advantage of this first, must be a part of Apple’s iPhone Developer’s Enterprise Program. All enterprises that want the application capability must be accepted to the program. Right now the posted rules state you must be over 500 employees and pay a $299 registration fee. Acceptance, which is in beta today, is up to Apple, so there is no guarantee. Second, you will need a third-party Mobile Device Management (MDM) platform to support these features. Exchange ActiveSynch will not be supporting all the new iOS4 functionality. Apple mentioned two vendors at their announcement, Sybase and Mobile Iron, but others like Tangoe and AirWatch announced their support for the features this week. Companies currently using BES for management and security, which only supports BlackBerry devices, that adopt iPhone 4 will now end up with two application (messaging) servers and two management servers. This drives the cost for supporting wireless up.
How are you planning to manage iPhones and other platforms in the enterprise? Are you going to (try) ban iPhones in the enterprise or standardize on a single platform? We don’t see the market going that direction, but most companies are frustrated with what it takes to support and secure mobile devices. What are your best practices?