Gartner: Keep The iPhone Out Of The Corporate Enterprise

Gartner analysts are warning IT managers to expect a flood of requests to support Apple's new iPhone, but to just say no.
Gartner analysts are warning IT administrators to take one great big step back away from the iPhone.

While generally it's a good idea to enable workers to use their favorite personal tech on the job, that's not the case with the iPhone -- at least not yet, said Ken Dulaney, VP of mobile computing at Gartner.

"IT will see a flood of requests for it immediately," Dulaney told InformationWeek. "We're giving backing to IT managers faced with users who want support. If you work for General Motors and you go out and buy an iPhone and use it for yourself, I don't have a problem with that. But when you start to ask the enterprise IT person for access to corporate systems with it, that's a problem."

The device, despite the furor that's been building up around it, simply isn't enterprise ready, said Dulaney, who noted in a report that if left unchecked, the iPhone and its security and service needs could quickly overwhelm IT priorities.

The iPhone, which is hitting the streets at 6 p.m. Friday, combines Apple's iPod music and video player with a mobile phone and wireless Internet access for e-mail and Web surfing. But Dulaney said several obstacles stand in the way of its fitting into the enterprise:

  • Lack of support from major mobile device management suites and mobile security suites
  • Lack of support from major business mobile e-mail solution providers
  • The operating system platform isn't licensed to alternative hardware suppliers so there are no backup hardware suppliers
  • Feature deficiencies, such as no removable battery, could increase the need for support
  • At this point, it's only available from one U.S. operator
  • It's an unproven device from a vendor that's never built an enterprise-class phone or mobile device
  • A high price estimated at $500
  • A clear statement from Apple that it's focused on consumer, not enterprise, business

IT "isn't prepared for that right now," Dulaney said. "Apple simply hasn't supplied the tools they need to consider handling this. I think those tools are at least six months out."

The big problem, he added, is when the CEO tells the IT manager that IT must support the iPhone because it's his favorite new gadget. It's harder to get around it when the cry is coming from the top.

"If you want to keep your job, you have to say OK," said Dulaney. "We've defined concierge support for top executives. They won't make it available to everybody. They refuse support to peons like me, but they make an exemption for executives."