Apple, iPad and the HTML5 enterprise

By Jonny Evans

The enterprise markets have never** been more willing to accept solutions from one-time black sheep now new-super-hot-date, Apple [AAPL], driving a resurgence in its enterprise sales. This also means there's a growing ecosystem of providers preparing business-focused solutions for Apple devices:


Real standards, real possibilities

Take as an example the soon-to-ship Cortado's HTML 5-based cloud solution for enterprise users. This really should interest hard-pressed tech support departments facing the 'Bring Your Own Device' trend, or working to support Apple devices alongside existing Windows XP stock.

The solution answers the growing trend toward mobility. That trend means many in the business community are seeking Unified Communications (UC) solutions which enable everyone within an enterprise to collaborate and communicate effectively wherever they are. (On average, firms switching to UC see travel costs dip 20+%).

Successful implementations of UC require accurate presence data (is the person you want to speak to online?); meeting and shared address book information, document collaboration and more.

Such implementations traditionally also require that all involved in the collaboration are at least using compatible solutions.

Get smart for business

A Forrester survey for Cisco argued that employees could save 43 minutes every day just by accessing all emails, voicemails and faxes via a unified central inbox.

The promise of UC isn't yet met.Right now we see a muddle of non-compatible solutions poorly implemented, meaning that for many enterprises the promise of tech isn't being fully realized.

The explosion of the 'Net means we're in a data deluge, so here's some facts:

-- 33% of execs check email in the middle of the night
-- The average business exec spends two hours a day on email
-- 35% of CIO's believe not knowing how best to contact colleagues slows their organization down.

While Cortado can't yet offer the single portal most now agree business users require to access everything from email to social networking messages, Cortado's Corporate Server can be part of an overall solution. It enables any Web-enabled device with HTML 5 support (which Apple's solutions, as we know, excel at) to access your digital "stuff".


Security and convenience

Because this is a cloud-hosted solution, your corporate data is, for the most part, kept secured on company servers. The information can be accessed and manipulated using any HTML 5 compliant device, but never truly leaves the office, ensuring better data security.

In the event an employee leaves or a device gets stolen, it is possible to kick that device off of the system. You get  print services, databases, file and fax server access both on your local device and up the chute at company HQ, and can work on and offline.

Security is three part -- on the device, using an SSL-encrypted tunnel while transmitting data between the device browser and the corporate server, and then you have your own password and authorization systems.

Cortado's solution will be made available at the end of the year.

Thin end of the wedge

This is only one example of what is rapidly becoming a flood of integrated solutions designed to empower Apple device toting business users in the new heterogeneous computing age:

It matters less every day if you're on a Mac, a PC, an iPad, iPhone or one of those cheaply-made Android devices. Whatever you do use you'll enjoy more or less equal access to the tools, communications, collaborations and collaborators you need.

It is interesting to reflect that this perfect promise has only been made available on account of a change in Microsoft's hegemonic control over the computing environments.

Things really have changed. Look back to last month when Forrester Research urged IT to move past its traditional anti-Mac prejudices in order to embrace Apple's platforms.

"Time is the only thing that these fierce competitors can't make more of. Many of today's corporate PCs are saddled with management, backup, and security agents that can bog down a PC. Employees want their PCs to boot in 10 seconds, not 10 minutes, and they don't want to have to get a cup of coffee while opening a 20 MB spreadsheet in Excel. They're drawn to uncluttered Macs -- especially those with solid-state drives, which are more responsive and boot in seconds," said analyst David Johnson.

How many times can a man turn his head?

Now, thanks to a standards-based approach to curated and secure user experiences and Apple's ten-year plan to deliver the best mobile devices in the world, there has been a sea change in the way enterprises regard their computing infrastructure. This is certainly driving a new wave of innovation for business solutions.

Earlier this year, Needham & Co. analyst, Charlie Wolf, says Apple's enterprise sales in the last quarter grew 66 percent, way ahead of the industry average growth of 4.5 percent in the enterprise.

It's a juggernaut, and could be a boom. "Stand in the way (of letting Apple in), and you will eventually get run over," warns Forrester's Johnson.

Developers, IT staff and executives should surely now be watching these emerging solutions with interest, for the times they are a-changing.

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** = "Never" -- at least since the early 80's, perhaps.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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