But RIM goes a few steps further, mobilizing enterprise-class application support with its BEAM middleware, a Java application server with libraries that can be called from existing tools. BEAM includes, for instance, native Oracle Fusion services. Much of the application integration work can be done without SDKs; just add a few lines of code and you're done, or so RIM claims. The device is a container for push messages from various enterprise applications, and it integrates with BlackBerry services like the universal inbox. Keep your business logic, and then mobilize it.
All the other tablet players talk about security, which RIM has licked. And the best any RIM'S rivals can show are enterprise dashboards running in an app. Big whoop. How about real-time business intelligence? Unified communications? Workflow approvals?
Another sign that the enterprise is a second-class citizen: One CIO told me that he had discovered Apple's iOS 4.3 doesn't allow HTTP posts for sites using Windows authentication. "For us it means that we can't use single sign-on for our applications," he told me. "We have to move to a forms-based authentication scheme. Now we have to make our users re-authenticate for our 'platform independent' Web applications instead of their Windows domain login." A recent post indicates a forthcoming update to iOS which promises to fix this issue.
Samsung is the only Android tablet manufacturer that has started to take the enterprise seriously. The problem is that it relies on a host of third parties, including Sybase for mobile device management, Cisco for VPN, SAP for BusinessObjects support, and companies like Antenna for the enterprise application integration part. These are all fantastic choices, but then it becomes an IT integration challenge. A Samsung enterprise executive told me that, for now, the company doesn't want to be in the integration business, but it may have no choice.
A sign of the times. After all, this tablet market is barely a year old.
Fritz Nelson is the editorial director for InformationWeek and the Executive Producer of TechWebTV. Fritz writes about startups and established companies alike, but likes to exploit multiple forms of media into his writing.
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