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Will iOS 7 and iCloud changes meet post-PC needs for enterprise users?

John Cox | June 10, 2013
At Apple WWDC, IT groups look for options, users for new classes of apps

"One limitation of iOS devices compared to other corporate devices is the lack of administrator control, so that devices can easily be pre-configured, cloned, remote-controlled, and [so that] controls can be put in place to force or block iOS upgrades," says Carl Maisonneuve, chief systems architect, The Ottawa Hospital, Ottawa, Ontario. The hospital has widely and aggressively deployed several thousand iPhones and iPads for doctors, nurses and staff.

Large-scale deployments pose special challenges given how Apple currently handles AppleIDs and app purchasing. "My greatest hope would be a solid and easy to implement solution for corporate AppleIDs and volume purchases for apps," says Benjamin Levy, a principal with Solutions Consulting, a Los Angeles firm that specializes in OS X and iOS deployments for business customers.

"At present we have two basic models for how a company can manage apps for its users: Either the user can own the apps or the company can own the apps," Levy explains. "But in the current model it's far easier for a company to decide to let the users own the apps, because of the management requirements for handling what might be thousands of AppleIDs and multiples of apps on top of that. This wasn't so much of an issue with iOS apps because [in the past] few were significant in cost. But as more apps move to the Mac App Store with higher prices it becomes a real question."

One example of an enterprise option that's emerged in recent months is the interest in a secure "container" or virtualized workspace within iOS, where corporate apps and data can be fully protected and managed, entirely separate from the end user's personal apps and information. "One of my biggest wishes is virtualization on iOS devices to allow separate sandboxed home and work environments, similar to what BlackBerry is doing on the Z10 smartphone [via the BlackBerry 10 operating system]," says the university IT manager.

"Customers would be joyous over this: a separate 'dual persona' capability so that the device could have separate areas with separate security characteristics," agrees Ken Dulaney, vice president, mobile, at Gartner, the Stamford, Conn., technology research firm.

One area that's not yet being addressed is Apple's cloud-based data syncing, which is vital for future, complex, database-driven mobile apps, especially for the enterprise. But only the university technology manager mentioned, as his No. 1 "biggest wish," the need for improvements to Apple's Core Data sync service. It's an illustration of the close relationship between the OS, app development and cloud services.

iCloud is the Apple-maintained online service that receives, stores and downloads data (music, photos, etc.) among multiple iOS and OS X clients logged into an iCloud account. Core Data is an application-level framework, supplied by both operating systems, that lets applications store items and data about those items in a single cloud database, without developers having to write a lot of their own SQL code and data persistence logic.


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