Top 5 iPad Deployment Issues for Mobile Management

In June, Apple announced that it had sold more than 3 million iPads in 80 days. The tablet-size mobile devices are already outpacing iPhone in numbers of units sold in their first quarters, and retail stores are having problems keeping them in stock. Clearly, iPad has captured the interest of consumers, but is it enterprise ready?


Some IT departments may be debating iPad’s readiness, but iPhone users are not. According to an interesting March 2010 survey conducted by Zogby International for Sybase, 52.3 percent of those interviewed noted that if they had iPad, they would conduct work on the device. And 50 percent of the respondents think devices such as iPad and smartphones would make them “somewhat more productive” at work, while almost a quarter of respondents (24.9 percent) think they would be “much more productive.” Altogether, almost 80 percent of respondents see iPad as a productivity enhancer.


iPad will soon appear in the workplace—either as a standard device or as personal devices brought in by employees. IT departments can expect to face an increasing number of employees requesting access to the corporate network from their personal iPad or corporate-issued iPad. At first they will want to use basic applications such as corporate email and the Internet, but as iPad-specific business applications become more sophisticated, employees will push for more access to back-office systems.


A Cheat Sheet for Bringing iPad in the Enterprise

Instead of fighting the incoming iPads, enterprises need to become more familiar with the devices and understand how they can fit into the corporate mobile strategy. Here are five standard questions that IT departments are asking about how iPads can quickly and securely join smartphones, laptops and other mobile devices in the enterprise. The answers will help you put iPads to work without compromising your organizations security or exhausting your IT resources.


1. Will I be able to discover these devices on the network?

Techniques for searching for new devices accessing corporate data have been around for many years. Today you can easily identify a rogue iPad with one of many robust solutions that use network access controls or ISAPI filters to dynamically check a device against a database. These tools can determine if the user’s iPad has the correct management, client and policies applied. Those that cannot be identified will not receive access to the network or back-office systems.


2. Can I remotely configure and manage iPad, as well as set and configure policies?

Research In Motion has done an excellent job helping enterprises remotely secure and manage mobile devices in the enterprise, but it is limited to the BlackBerry device OS. It’s a common misperception that similar capabilities are not available for iPhone and iPad. A handful of mobile management and security platforms are capable of remotely delivering remote configuration settings and policies. By using Apple’s configuration and security settings, which can be deployed wirelessly through a user self-enrollment portal, the iPad can be configured and secured remotely in a way that will put to rest any security and management concerns.    


You can also gather inventory information about iPad remotely, such as device make and model, active directory name, as well as settings, policies and security configurations.


3. Can users access enterprise email on iPad securely?

Many enterprises are already allowing iPhone users to access email from the corporate Microsoft Exchange server. iPad has the same capabilities, and tools are available to remotely set and manage users’ Microsoft Exchange settings or Google apps settings. Options are also available to deliver real-time Exchange and Lotus Domino email in what can be called an “enterprise sandbox,” which will add a layer of locks and controls to protect business email. (More on the enterprise sandbox in the next answer.)


4. Can I separate personal data from work data on the iPad?

Many of iPad and iPhone devices entering the enterprise are personally owned, and IT needs a strategy to separate the personal data from business data. One option is to create an enterprise sandbox, a secure area or application within iPad where corporate data, corporate settings, password controls and encryption controls and remote wipe controls can all be applied to enterprise data and separate it from personal data. For personally used iPads that may contain family photos, iTunes, and gaming apps, as well as work information, this sandbox secures business data. 


5. Can I extend existing backend apps to run on the iPad?

Most enterprises view these projects as extremely difficult, but they don’t have to be. Mobile enterprise application platform providers can help organizations mobilize their corporate applications using robust application development environments and flexible data exchange technologies. These innovative platforms help enterprises extend their back office systems to the secure sandbox on iPad and the valuable business applications to the increasing number of mobile information workers.


iPhone Opens Business Doors for iPad 

In many ways, past experience with iPhones in the enterprise is making iPad’s entry to the workplace much easier. When Apple introduced the first generation of iPhones, corporate IT departments did not welcome the new smartphone with open arms. Resistance eased, however, after Apple enhanced the smartphone’s security features and integrated with Microsoft Exchange server. Apple’s efforts to make iPhone ready for the enterprise seem to be opening doors for iPad. Already, large well-know companies, such as Mercedes-Benz, Tellabs and Wells Fargo, have adopted iPad into their business workflow.


At Tellabs, supply chain employees are relying on iPads to approve urgent sales orders near the end of the month. Wells Fargo employees are demonstrating financial service offerings to potential customers on iPads, and Mercedes-Benz salespeople are calling up financing options for customers from their iPads while roaming the show floor.


These types of mobile sales and workflow examples are premium business applications for iPad. In these work scenarios, iPad boots up more quickly than a laptop, and the larger screen displays the information in a much more readable format than what is available on iPhone. As iPad-specific applications mature, watch for mobile information workers from healthcare, education, hospitality, financial services, real estate, retail and insurance give up their laptops’ slower boot times, menus, and mouse clicks for the faster power ups and touch-screen functionality in iPad.


In some cases, information workers will choose to stick to their smartphone and laptop. To be ready to support any mobile device, enterprises will need a robust mobile enterprise application platform that can easily secure and support the increasing numbers of on-the-go-professionals who want to choose from a collection of mobile devices to help them be more productive at work. iPad is more than ready to join the cadre of smartphones, notebooks and laptops that are already out on the business world’s frontline.


Matt Carrier, mobility consultant at Sybase, acts as a technical consultant on the importance of management and security, and application enablement within the mobile enterprise. He has advised many Fortune 500 companies on best practices and security strategies for mobile implementations.


iPad, Apple, mobile IT, mobile management, mobile security