Mobile Management for iPhone, iOS 4 with MobileIron

Apple today is releasing iOS 4, which offers mobile IT and enterprises a lot of reasons to begin supporting iPhones and iPads in the workplace, as the new mobile operating system includes enhanced provisioning, security and management tools.

The free update, iOS 4, enables IT departments to install security and policy profiles on mobile devices without having to do so manually as they can now use the Apple Push Notification Service update. It also offers better monitoring and policy compliance tools. Businesses can also now issue their own mobile iOS apps without syncing with the Apple App Store, as long as the custom apps are certified by Apple.

While the update today covers the iPhone 3G, 3GS and 4 and the latest iPod Touch models, iOS 4 for the iPad won't be out until sometime this fall.

Mobile management firms such as MobileIron are offering updated support for the new platform, and given the enterprise-friendly features of iOS 4 , are bracing for wider adoption of iPhones in the workplace.

"The iPhone is doing well in the enterprise, but with iOS 4, we think we'll see the classic hockey stick in terms of use in the workplace because the new OS really does meet a lot of enterprise needs," Ojas Rege, vice president of products for MobileIron, told EnterpriseMobileToday.com.

MobileIron's new services include the following services: application discovery, zero-touch security and real-time international roaming monitoring. Using the application discovery tool, IT staff can publish a catalog of the company's in-house apps for users to download over-the-air, without iTunes required. Different apps can be made available for different users, based on policy. For example, the sales team might have access to CRM and expense reporting apps while the engineering team has access to collaborative apps.

Mobile managers can now also maintain an accurate inventory of what apps are on what iPhones and restrict access to enterprise e-mail if non-compliant apps are identified.

"Prior to iOS 4, there were only two ways for enterprises to get apps on the iPhone, either through iTunes, the App Store, or side loaded, which is really complicated. What Apple's done with iOS 4 is provided the capability to accept authorized apps not from iTunes. So MobileIron built an app catalog and delivery mechanism so now with iOS 4 when enterprises build their own in-house apps, they can use MobileIron to organize and deliver them to the device. IT staff can tailor who gets which apps and manage them from creation to delivery so I think we'll be seeing a lot more enterprise iPhone apps," said Rege.

On the mobile security front, user intervention is no longer required to update iPhone security and application configuration profiles. IT can now push profiles to iPhones without requiring any action on the part of the user. Certificates can be used to authenticate user and device identity. Additionally, modified iPhones can be kept out of the enterprise and all iPhones can be kept up-to-date and in-sync with corporate security policy.

"Before iOS 4, when It updated configurations, they weren't applied to the device, so you needed users to accept it, with the new OS, you can push updated profiles to iPhones without any action required by the user, so if you're creating and delivering through the MobileIron platform to the device, it's a huge positive from the security perspective," said Rege. "There's no 'gotcha' that the user didn't accept all the security updates. We can also block a device if it's non-compliant, so it's not on the network."

In terms of cost control, with MobileIron for iOS 4, IT can now monitor international roaming in real-time. Whenever an iPhone user travels to a new country, both the user and IT are notified to ensure that costs are managed and service plans are appropriate.

MobileIron's current suite of security and management functionality is available for iOS 4 now, while MobileIron's application discovery, zero-touch security and real-time cost control features for iOS 4 will be available in the third quarter.