Analysts recommend iPhone for enterprise use

Market research firm Gartner on Wednesday changed its stance against using the iPhone in an enterprise situation. The change of heart comes because of the iPhone’s upcoming software upgrade, which will see broader support for security and enterprise email.

Gartner was among the firms that expressed concerns about the iPhone’s use in the enterprise when it was first released. Marketed mainly as a consumer device, the iPhone’s cool factor drew admirers from all walks of life, which led many companies to be concerned about its use.

“In its initial release, the iPhone was, with few exceptions, an Internet tablet with browser-based applications as its main offering, however, the release of firmware 2.0 changes that, enabling enterprises to develop local code and create applications that do not depend on network capabilities,” said Ken Dulaney, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. “The iPhone will thus match up initially in several segments against its main smartphone competitors — BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and Symbian Series 60.”

iPhone software 2.0 will see many enterprise-level improvements, including “push-based” e-mail, calendar info and contact management; additional support for Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) including Cisco IPsec; and two-factor authentication, certificates and identities. Apple also sees “enterprise-class” Wi-Fi with WPA2/802.1x support and tools to enforce security policies as critical. IT managers will also be able to deploy iPhones, set them up automatically, and, perhaps most importantly, wipe the devices when necessary.

“By licensing Exchange ActiveSync and exposing its basic security policies, enterprises can provide sufficient security for iPhone during Exchange personal information manager (PIM) and e-mail use,” said Dulaney. “This will open up a huge market for the iPhone, which previously had been stymied by a lack of basic business security and application functionality. However, Apple must widen distribution and of course deliver what they have promised.”

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