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5/27/2009
11:40 AM
Randy George
Randy George
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Ramming The iPhone Into The Enterprise

Whatever side of the fence you're on about supporting the iPhone in the Enterprise, you're probably going to have to do it eventually. The question is, can you appease your users and keep your data safe simultaneously? There might be a middle ground to be found.

Whatever side of the fence you're on about supporting the iPhone in the Enterprise, you're probably going to have to do it eventually. The question is, can you appease your users and keep your data safe simultaneously? There might be a middle ground to be found.There's a reason the iPhone is so popular. It's the same reason that Windows is so popular as a PC OS. It's the interface. Even your grandma can use an iPhone, with a little training of course. The iPhone is relatively fast and rarely if ever crashes, not something I can say about my Windows Mobile Device, or even my blackberry for that matter.

Today's reality is that many IT Managers have little control over what devices are used in their environments. If your CEO barrels into your office asking to have his email setup on his new iPhone, are you going to say no? I suppose you could say no, but that might be a career ending decision.

But why are so many enterprises still reluctant to support the iPhone? The iPhone is actually more enterprise ready than you may realize. For example, you can push email to an iPhone via exchange activesync over an SSL encrypted channel. iPhone 2.0 supports Cisco VPN's, WPA, and 802.1x. Additionally, device lock and pass code policies can be set centrally and remote wipe signals can be sent over the air in the case of device theft.

You could make a compelling argument that the iPhone COULD be configured to be just as secure, if not more secure, then any other competing device. But alas, the iPhone is really a consumer device, and it's difficult to control the information and applications maintained on these devices, so is there an middle ground to be found? How about the new Citrix XenApp receiver for the iPhone. Forcing users into using terminal services to access internal corporate applications, email, etc., negates the concern that private data will fall into the wrong hands. Most importantly, concerns about application compatibility go out the window, because you're forcing users to access apps via Citrix.

Have you deployed iPhone's on a grand scale in a highly complex enterprise environment? Please educate us on some of the tools, tricks and gotcha's that you've run into during your travels. Your experience is sure to help me, and others, as we try to come up with some best practices for supporting iPhone's in our organizations.

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