There have been some debates as to whether the iPhone has a place in the enterprise. Opponents generally point out, correctly, that the iPhone in its current iteration is ill-suited for any role in the enterprise. Other than the lack of any mechanism for centralized configuration and control, the reason is also quite simply due to its limited ability to receive mail only in POP or IMAP, with no push mail capabilities at all.
It is not hard to see just how far behind the iPhone is when you consider that its main contenders in the push mail space are RIM's BlackBerry, with its tried-and-tested BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES), and Microsoft's Windows Mobile devices, with their built-in support that comes pre-packaged in Microsoft Exchange.
Now, if the iPhone is able to link up with an enterprise e-mail server without having to modify any existing settings or firewall configurations, that would surely be a giant step forward in the right direction.
Guess what? If U.K.-based company Synchronica PLC has a say in this matter, getting an iPhone to retrieve mail directly from an Exchange Server without any additional configuration can already be done.
The solution that Synchronica came out with cleverly leverages upon Microsoft's own Outlook Web Access (OWA) to check for e-mail via a hosted service. The retrieved mail is then delivered directly to the iPhone's built-in e-mail client, presumably "pushed" out via IMAP.
This is a very elegant solution because it works based on the existence of a set of firewall configuration and rules that will likely already be in place. If the company already uses direct push or OWA, then zero additional configuration will be necessary.
In fact, Synchronica's Mobile Gateway 3.0 middleware supports synchronization with a wide range of smartphones and mass-market feature phones from Nokia, Sony Ericsson, along with other manufacturers.
Unfortunately, I don't have an iPhone, nor can I get one where I live. But if you do have one, you can sign up for a trial with Synchronica.
Anyway, it would be interesting if the iPhone with Exchange becomes mainstream. Apple and Microsoft versus RIM anyone? I do have some opinions on this if you're care to read How is Microsoft's Direct Push better than the BlackBerry.
Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.