Apple and IBM have joined forces to develop business-grade iOS apps, which could have big repercussions for the iPad, developers and the future of enterprise.
But what does it all mean? How important is enterprise to Apple? And is there any truth to the rumour that Apple is developing a bigger iPad Pro with enterprise users in mind?
Apple and IBM announced their partnership back in July 2014, and then in December 2015, the two companies announced they were to launch 100 business-centric native iPhone and iPad apps on IBM's 'Mobile First' cloud platform, while also combining on the testing and maintenance of these apps, device reselling, leasing, enrolment and activation, and help desk support.
The partnership matches the world's top hardware and OS manufacturer with IBM, the leader in enterprise IT solutions and services, as well as software development security and analytics. The aim is clear; for businesses to push any data or process to an employee with an iOS device.
The first apps include Field Connect (for field technicians), Passenger Care (airline customer service staff), Advisor Alerts (financial professionals), Dynamic Buy (real-time data to retailers on product performance) and Incident Aware (law enforcement), with the rest due later this year.
Apple products and BYOD
Mention 'Bring Your Own Device' to any IT manager and you're likely to see panic sweep across their face, as they consider the need to manage data, devices, write policies and maintain compliance.
This situation isn't unique to Apple devices of course, but iOS has led the bring-your-own era since the first iPad, and to this day IT teams are still struggling to manage the deluge, irrespective if they've deployed Mobile Device Management (MDM) or Mobile Application Management (MAM) solutions.
Despite this, it is clear from this agreement that BYOD is here to stay; enterprises are now realising the benefits and can't backtrack, so attention must turn to improving apps, securing data and aligning mobility with existing business processes.
Apple enterprise security and confidentiality
As mentioned above, IT departments have struggled with managing mobility, as well as getting visibility on how these devices are used.
The IBM partnership should hopefully help solve that problem; all the apps are controlled by the secure MobileFirst platform, which is technically based on IBM's Maas360 MDM platform, while IBM is said to have 'special access right to certain security features on the devices that others will not have access to'.
For example, some apps can blank the screen or log-out if you shake the device, so confidential data is immediately hidden. A shake can also be used to summon help.
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