Opinion: 10 ways Apple can make the iPhone a killer business device

The device has potential, but Apple needs to meet corporate needs

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This approach makes any real security or enforcement of acceptable use policies well-nigh impossible. Administrators can't be sure that any configurations they deploy to an iPhone will be in use at any time. The inability to enforce passcode policies on an iPhone without an Exchange environment raises security concerns.

It can also lead to support headaches if users routinely remove profiles that deliver needed configuration details, such as for Wi-Fi or VPN access. For the iPhone to be secure and properly managed in enterprise environments, it must offer an option for security and configuration policies that can be reliably enforced.

3. Develop over-the-air deployment for profiles.

Given the limitations of working with profiles for the iPhone, Apple needs to develop a way to deploy configuration profiles (as well as provisioning profiles to enable the installation and use of in-house applications) and make sure they're enforced.

The current approach does not push profiles out to devices; it requires administrators to manually apply a profile using the iPhone Configuration Utility, e-mail it to users or host it on a Web site and ask users to load it via Safari. That alone makes initial deployment a challenge, and it makes managing profile updates even harder.

Without a staff member manually applying profiles, there's no way to ensure that an updated profile is actually installed after it's released. This can pose headaches when pushing out security policies and ensuring that changes to other configurations -- in particular, Wi-Fi and VPN -- are updated.

Since the iPhone supports syncing of security policies from an Exchange server, it's clearly capable of these functions. Even if the capability isn't fully extended to all environments, providing a workable solution for Exchange environments would be a step in the right direction.

4. Develop direct push options for platforms other than Exchange.

Apple's decision to rely on Exchange as the sole method for direct push and other enterprise features for the iPhone was a logical choice. Exchange is widely deployed, and it already offers support for direct push, groupware functionality and security policies that Apple would need to offer to make the iPhone an enterprise-caliber smart phone.

Using Exchange also meant that Apple didn't have to create a server solution of its own for the iPhone, as Research In Motion (RIM) provides with the BlackBerry Enterprise Messaging Server. On the flip side, even organizations without Exchange get access to push mail and related groupware features under RIM's model. Ironically, by relying on Exchange, Apple excludes its own Leopard Server and its suite of calendar and collaborative tools.

Providing a broader solution could give smaller organizations -- or those that already have legacy solutions such as Novell's GroupWise -- options that are now available only via Exchange. And it could help position the iPhone to better compete with RIM.

Ideally, Apple will provide a solution for the variety of other groupware and collaborative tools on the market in the upcoming Snow Leopard Server, which is expected to boast enhanced collaborative tools, its own level of Exchange integration, and at least some iPhone-specific collaborative features. But options already exist for integrating the iPhone's direct push features without Exchange; for instance, NotifyLink integrates with a range of mobile devices -- including the iPhone -- and mail server and groupware platforms.

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