Systems management company Kace Networks has delivered a module for its KBOX appliance, which manages iPhones used on a corporate network.
The iPhone module can centrally set up and track iPhones, which are becoming increasingly common amongst business users, since the 3G model added corporate features such as support for Microsoft Exchange. A recent survey by ChangeWave Research found that 22 percent of IT managers plan to deploy iPhones in the current quarter.
"We've always embraced heterogeneous IT environments, including the Macintosh, but this is our first foray into handheld communications devices." said Daniel Power, European sales director at Kace. "The iPhone has come out of the consumer world to become an enterprise tool, but it needs management."
The KBOX iPhone module is an extension of existing desktop managment, where Kace competes with Altiris and others, said Power. It can discover and report iPhones that are used on the corporate network, primarily by checking when corporate laptops have installed iTunes to manage an iPhone. It can deploy a profile to these phones to keep their usage within company policy, saving the IT manager from finding and resetting each phone individually.
The module will track the iPhones, including their usage, their contract with the mobile carrier and the costs associated with it. It also monitors installed software, and produces reports on iPhone usage for the IT manager.
"The Blackberry comes with strong management from RIM [Research In Motion], but this is lacking in the iPhone," said Power. "The level of control and configuration using KBOX is not the same as that achieved by RIM's BES server and a Blackberry, but we are achieving what you can do with Windows Mobile -- a platform that hasn't caught the imagination the same way as the iPhone."
Existing KBOX users can add the iPhone module for £1450 (US$1999), and manage unlimited numbers of iPhones, while system including the KBOX and the module would cost £8000 ($11900).