Apple's iOS 7 operating system includes some new features targeted at enterprise app developers. Apple realizes that device control is not enough and Mobile App Management (MAM) is the only way to meet the needs of the enterprise. Much like Samsung's Knox, Apple's iOS 7 improves app-level control. The question is, do enterprise customers want a specific "company device" anymore?
The days of a company-owned BlackBerry are going away, and now, employees expect a choice of devices or the use of their own personal device.
What we see with iOS 7 is Apple's agreement that what enterprise customers need is more control over apps rather than more control of the device. iOS 7 has made some new features available to app developers that were not available in the past.
[ Financing the mobile workplace has its own challenges. Here's how to face them. 6 Tips For Financing BYOD Workplaces. ]
Apple has also correctly identified another important industry need with iOS 7's support for Enterprise Single Sign-on (SSO). There are many different ways to claim enterprise SSO that may or may not provide value to customers. For example, VPN providers have supported enterprise SSO in their products for years, but the method chosen was not something that most security-conscious customers would choose to deploy.
It's clear that Apple accurately identified a true market need, and solution providers will leverage many of the new MAM features. However, customers will expect these solutions to be cross-platform and not locked down to a specific device manufacturer.
For an enterprise to take advantage of some of the new features of iOS 7, the device must be MDM-managed. While this may be the case for corporate-issued devices, it is becoming increasingly less likely when employees bring their own devices (BYOD). Issues related to privacy and strict contracts for mobile service that employees must sign are real reasons why companies are investing in MAM rather than MDM for BYOD. If you are going down the BYOD route, carefully evaluate if MDM is the correct path for your enterprise and your employees.
Seven Things To Know About iOS 7
There is a lot to like in iOS 7, but there are also some things to watch out for.
- New data encryption features including data protection by default and per-app VPN, which is a good sign for app protection.
- Auto-configuration for apps can make users' lives easier on day one.
- Enterprise SSO is a great start, but many companies require multiple forms of SSO, some older protocols and some newer than what was chosen by Apple.
- Multitasking for apps finally puts other third-party apps closer to parity with Apple apps. In previous versions of iOS, Apple was the only one allowed to run apps in the background, enable notifications, and update automatically. Now, we are all have some new capabilities. It's important for any app to sync automatically in the background so it's ready for the user when launched.
- iCloud keychain -- although probably good for consumers, enterprise customers probably don't want all user passwords collected and stored in iCloud.
- No S/MIME changes seem to be present. Many of our customers use encrypted mail, but cannot use the existing features as provided by Apple. There seem to be no improvements in iOS 7.
- A few new ways to share (read: leak) data -- a new feature called "share sheets" for apps to use AirDrop, iCloud now has photo and video sharing, and devices have peer-to-peer connectivity. All this is great for consumer data, but important company intellectual property needs to be controlled and protected.
The bottom line is that Apple has recognized some critical demands by enterprise customers and app developers for more app-level controls and iOS 7 delivers some of these controls to ISVs and developers.
In the past, Apple was notorious for ignoring the enterprise market. With iOS 7, Apple made some bold moves toward supporting enterprise needs and making a play to replace BlackBerry as the standard enterprise device. However, with the proliferation of personal smartphones and BYOD programs, the days of the corporate phone are numbered.
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