The release of iOS 7 brings with it a number of support questions for enterprises with corporate-owned iOS devices, not to mention Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and Corporate Owned Personally Enabled (COPE) initiatives
Tim Williams, director of product management for Absolute Software, an end-point security company, and I recently had a discussion about how IT can prepare for iOS 7 in their enterprise. Here are his seven tips for supporting iOS 7.
1. Use Apple IDs for BYOD
Williams recommends using the Apple Volume Purchase Program (VPP) to take advantage of the new iOS 7 App Store license management feature. If your company isn't already using VPP, it's time to sign up for it, invite your users, and phase it in for apps management.
With iOS 7, the VPP allows you to retain licenses to all of the apps you distribute to user-owned devices. However, you need to ensure that all your iPhone/iPad users have their own Apple ID (VPP doesn't require their Apple password) while onboarding them to your organization's BYOD program.
He advises promoting VPP to BYOD users by telling them that it's the best way for them to get the iOS apps they need to do their job. I would add that perhaps it's the best way for BYOD users to get business apps without having to file an expense report.
2. Know your third-party iOS apps
iOS 7 enables you to configure third-party apps remotely. Williams uses the example of a SharePoint client app that requires a SharePoint server address. While Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions can push the configurations out, the developer needs to enable it.
Williams calls this, "One more item for the checklist when you're buying new apps for your company."
Personally, I'm wondering if this new iOS 7 feature is going to influence any changes in mobile app deployment, especially on BYOD and COPE devices.
3. Read the fine print
Williams advises to "read the fine print" when it comes to the iOS 7 upgrade, because not all features are available on all devices or in all countries. He recommends checking your device inventory to see which of your devices support the new features.
You should also plan for exceptions, because you may have some older devices in your corporate inventory that won't support iOS 7 at all.
William's "fine print" comment also raises questions around BYOD devices. An upgrade to iOS 7 with your corporate support plans/recommendations needs to be communicated to all your active BYOD users.
4. Test, retest, and rewrite
"If you've developed enterprise apps in-house, there's a pretty good chance they won't run on iOS 7," says Williams. "And, even if they do, it's unlikely they'll leverage all of the new functionality."
He recommends taking the time to test each app before you update to iOS 7. This allows you to avoid countless calls to the help desk from employees reporting something wrong with an app that's essential for their work.
5. Decide between BYOD vs. COPE
"Now may be the perfect time to switch to COPE devices," says Williams. "With iOS 7, you can implement your own MDM enrollment process right out of the box."
Williams believes, "This is easier for employees, since the device they're handed will already be corporately compliant — and more secure for you because standards will be consistent across all devices."
My question here is that with BYOD security and COPE initiatives all over the map, will iOS 7 be a tipping point for these initiatives in the enterprise?
6. Use Per app VPNs for improved app performance
The new Per app VPN feature in iOS 7 mean users will not be forced to run their whole device through a VPN, which can degrade performance.
A Per app VPN also means that you can segregate your business app data inside your secure network without carrying your iTunes Radio traffic.
However, Williams cautions that Per app VPNs don't matter if you aren't mapping how each app connects to the requisite resource. He also says that the plan doesn't have to be in place on day one, but Per app VPNs might require some infrastructure changes in order for your mobile users to reap the benefits.
7. Upgrade to iOS 7
While I remain on the fence about upgrading my one-year-old iPhone 5 to iOS 7, due to a poor upgrade experience to iOS 6, Williams was enthusiastic about the iOS 7 upgrade. His final bit of advice was to upgrade to iOS 7.
Speaking with him, I found myself catching a bit of his enthusiasm for the upgrade. I'm certain that either my iPad or iPad Mini will make the upgrade at the earliest opportunity (for reasons completely TechRepublic, naturally).
Following the tips from Williams, your mobile workforce can take advantage of iOS 7's management, new security, and BYOD/COPE-related features with just a bit of upfront planning. Are you planning to immediately upgrade to iOS 7? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.
Will Kelly is a freelance technical writer and analyst currently focusing on enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and the consumerization of IT. He has also written about cloud computing, Big Data, virtualization, project management applications, Google Apps, Microsoft technologies, and online collaboration for TechRepublic and other sites. Will also works as a contract technical writer for clients in the Washington, DC area and nationwide. Follow Will on Twitter: @willkelly.