Will regulated companies benefit from iOS 4?
Apple’s iOS 4, formerly known as iPhone OS 4.0, was released Monday, with consumers downloading the much-anticipated operating system that brings a boatload of new features—multi-tasking apps, folders, better e-mail management, camera zoom, iBookstore, home screen wallpaper, and wireless keyboard support.
On the other side of the aisle, CIOs eye iOS 4’s deep enterprise support. iOS 4 brings wireless distribution of in-house apps, app and email data protection, mobile device management upgrades, and support for SSL VPN via apps from Juniper and Cisco.
It’s a smorgasbord-an OS upgrade for everyone.
But will iOS 4 usher the iPhone and iPad into the enterprise? Not so much, says CEO Jayaram Bhat of Zenprise, a developer of mobile management software tools. Technically speaking, he says much of the heavy lifting was done by previous iPhone OS upgrades, mainly iPhone support for Active Sync and security policies.
iOS 4 merely adds to this foundation, Bhat says, which should lead to greater adoption in heavily regulated industries.
CIO.com talked with Bhat about iOS 4, iPad adoption, and the ongoing battle between the iPhone and the BlackBerry for the enterprise.
How will iOS 4 impact enterprise adoption?
Bhat: It adds a lot more enterprise-friendly features, particularly device management. This will allow our management software to be even more effective. But no one was waiting for iOS 4.0 to come out before adopting iPhones in the enterprise, except for maybe heavily regulated companies.
iPhone 2.0 and particularly 3.0 gave them sufficient features to start using iPhones in the enterprise. We started seeing a lot of interest in iPhones ever since iPhone OS 2.0 came out, which supported Active Sync and security policies.
With iPhone 3.0, security policies can be set up in Exchange and exported to the iPhone. The underlying mechanisms exist to enforce those security policies. iOS 4 will just make it much easier for the iPhone to be adopted into heavily regulated companies.
Will iOS 4 help with iPad adoption?
Bhat: To be clear, the iPhone is still very small in the enterprise. iPhone came out in 2007, and it’s only in the last year that the iPhone is starting to enter enterprises in reasonably significant numbers. But iPad adoption is actually faster. It’s only been out a couple of months, and we’re already seeing it.
That’s because the iPhone [operating system] has already solved the hurdle of compliance and security. The iPad starts with iPhone OS 3 and iOS 4.
The iPad is coming into the enterprise the same way as the iPhone: CEOs and CFOs as early adopters. But, surprisingly, we’re finding a lot of IT people using iPads. They don’t want to lug a laptop around the data center, and the iPhone is a bit too small to look at a console. So they’re using the iPad as a console.
Will iPhone eventually usurp the BlackBerry in the enterprise?
Bhat: We are seeing mixed environments. One of our customers you wrote about, Varian Medical, is now letting iPhones in but not replacing BlackBerries. This is a very typical case. With almost all of our 300 customers, the BlackBerry still makes up the majority of their smartphone users. And the BlackBerry installed base is actually growing, not declining.
Now you have the Droid, which is following in the footsteps of the iPhone. Android 2.2, which just came out, now supports Active Sync natively. More importantly for IT, Android 2.2. allows the provisioning of security policies from Exchange Server. iPhone 2.0 did the same thing, which really made it easy for IT to support it.
When we install Zenprise for the first time at a company, we do a discovery of all the smartphones in the enterprise. At many companies, IT guys will say they don’t have any iPhones, just 800 BlackBerries. Then we plug Zenprise in and an hour later we find 850 BlackBerries, 120 iPhones, 10 Android phones, five iPads, a handful of Windows mobile devices-and they are stunned.
How can companies continue to support so many mobile platforms?
Bhat: Fundamentally, the cost of support is much higher for mixed environments. An enterprise, for instance, usually standardizes on one platform for the laptop to simplify support. The Droid, iPhone and BlackBerry are completely different so help desk becomes much more complex, much more expensive. But companies are still doing it because of user pressure.
A study by Aberdeen calculated the cost of support for each [mobile] user per year at $588 without management tools. Aberdeen also compared this cost to companies who have multiple smartphone platforms with management tools, and the cost went down to $189.
When a company decides to formerly adopt the iPhone, what’s the biggest surprise?
Bhat: Usually it has to do with security and enforcement of policies. For instance, some companies have policies that no phone can use Facebook and Twitter. There are policies in Exchange that can be pushed to a smartphone and enforce that. It’s very easy to do with BES and BlackBerry but may be harder to do for the iPhone and Android.
[Tom Kaneshige covers Apple and Networking for CIO.com.]