iPhone

Sanity check: Five upgrades that make the iPhone 3G enterprise-ready

While 3G may be the feature that defines the name of the second-generation iPhone, the new features that will have the biggest impact on the smartphone's adoption rate are these five that turn it a business-class device.

While 3G may be the feature that defines the name of the second-generation iPhone, the new features that will have the biggest impact on the smartphone's adoption rate are these five that turn it a business-class device.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Almost from the moment the original iPhone was launched, the anticipation began for when the second generation of the product would be released to deal with the phone's most glaring shortcomings -- the lack of 3G connectivity and the missing features for corporate workers.

Beyond the new 3G capability that has been added to the second generation of the iPhone, here is a list of the five upgrades that Apple has made to iPhone 2.0 in order to make it more usable for business workers and more acceptable to IT departments.

1. Exchange support

When most business users think of a smartphone they think of a device they can use to check their office e-mail. That typically means connecting to Microsoft Exchange, since Exchange has over 60% market share in corporate e-mail. Thus, for the iPhone to become a mass market device for business users it absolutely has to have support for push e-mail from Exchange.

That support was glaringly absent from iPhone 1.0, but it is one of the flagship features of the new iPhone 3G. Fortunately, Apple has also promised a software update that will allow the original iPhone to benefit from the same software innovations that are being launched with the iPhone 3G, including the Exchange ActiveSync functionality.

2.  Business-level security

In order to meet the security needs that IT departments demand for smartphones, Apple beefed up iPhone security with support for a variety of new features including remote wipe, inactivity time-out, password enforcement, strong password policies, VPN client software (L2TP, IPSec, PPTP, and Cisco VPN), WPA2 Enterprise (plus other WEP and WPA standards), and 802.11x authentication.

3. Custom applications

The original iPhone was a completely closed platform. The only applications allowed on the device were the ones put there by Apple. With iPhone 2.0, Apple has relaxed that restriction considerably with the launch of its iPhone software developer kit (SDK), but it's not a completely open system either. Apple controls most of the applications through its App Store.

However, Apple has also opened the door for businesses to build and deploy their own custom applications using the iPhone Developer Program and the iPhone Configuration Utility (see next section). For IT departments, one of the major drawbacks of the original iPhone was that users had to have iTunes -- not an enterprise-approved application -- for desktop syncing and software updates. With the advent of the iPhone Configuration Utility, that's no longer the case.

4. Configuration profiles

For IT departments that want to deploy iPhones across large groups of employees, Apple now offers configuration profiles for the iPhone. These XML files can be used to tell the iPhone how to connect to enterprise systems as well as preconfigure the settings for Exchange, wireless networks, VPN, password policies, certificates, application restrictions, and users' electronic signatures. The iPhone Configuration Utility is the tool used to create the profiles. plus it can also be used to deploy applications.

5. Enterprise rate plans

AT&T remains the exclusive U.S. carrier for the iPhone (internationally, Apple has contracted with a variety of different carriers). The first generation iPhone had a unique, strange, and somewhat confusing activation process that was handled through iTunes. That's history. The iPhone now follows AT&T's standard activation process and offers standard AT&T voice and data plans. The good news for businesses is that also means the iPhone can now be a part of AT&T's enterprise rate plans.

Sanity check

Although Apple deserves credit for bringing the iPhone up-to-speed on business features -- a wise move since a large number of the iPhone's most enthusiastic adopters are business people -- we should simply think of these upgrades as bringing the iPhone up to the minimum requirements for business.

The iPhone still does not have the long-hardened security or the wide array of third-party business applications that you'll find on RIM's BlackBerry, the incumbent enterprise smartphone. As such, I don't expect the iPhone to be embraced in high-security environments such as government, health care, or large financial institutions, but it will now be good enough for most other businesses.

Apple is still playing catch-up from an enterprise standpoint, but at least it's in the game now.

For more, see:

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

36 comments
sbarman
sbarman

The iPhone stores the user name and password on the device in cleartext, making it unacceptable for most environments.

garibaldi69@
garibaldi69@

Need to correct a few assumtions: 1. No phone is secure. Any message received on a phone HAS to go through the phone's provider. (Verizon, AT&T, Nextel, etc.) 2. BlackBerry's can send and receive email without going through RIM's servers. One option is called BlackBerry Enterprise Server. 3. You can also use the desktop software to sync your phone to any POP3 email server as well. these all bypass RIM's servers. But as I stated no phone is secure. The Government tells its employees not to rely on BB as they can be hacked. As they have been many times. But they never listen.

cnordby
cnordby

You need to look at the 3rd party apps already available in the App Store and reconsider the Health Care pronouncement. It is going to be HUGE in health care. There are already two apps that doctors will want in the form of an anatomy book and a drug reference both of which have incredibly detailed graphics/pictures. And then there is the product that allows you to take your entire medical record with you--to include x-rays, MRI scans, ultrasound results, etc. There's also a version for the entire family. Yet another allows a doctor to review a fusion of PET images overlaid with radiographic (x-ray) images on the go, with an iPhone-owning patient, or on rounds in the hospital. It literally frees the doc from being tied to a workstation for this stuff. Did I mention that this is going to be HUGE?

cnordby
cnordby

You need to look at the 3rd party apps already available in the App Store and reconsider the Health Care pronouncement. It is going to be HUGE in health care. There are already two apps that doctors will want in the form of an anatomy book and a drug reference both of which have incredibly detailed graphics/pictures. And then there is the product that allows you to take your entire medical record with you--to include x-rays, MRI scans, ultrasound results, etc. There's also a version for the entire family. Yet another allows a doctor to review a fusion of PET images overlaid with radiographic (x-ray) images on the go, with an iPhone-owning patient, or on rounds in the hospital. It literally frees the doc from being tied to a workstation for this stuff. Did I mention that this is going to be HUGE?

Cincinnerdi
Cincinnerdi

The Enterprise Deployment Guide concurs that you don't HAVE to have iTunes on each PC, but it sounds like it'll be a hassle later if you don't: "Because iTunes is required to complete the activation process for both iPhone and iPod touch, you must decide whether you want to install iTunes on each user???s Mac or PC, or whether you???ll complete activation for each device with your own iTunes installation. After activation, iTunes isn???t required to use the device with your enterprise systems, but it is necessary to synchronize music, video and web browser bookmarks with a computer. It is also required for downloading and installing software updates for devices and installing your enterprise applications. For more information, see Chapter 4. "

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

A phone with features that my current handset (and those before) has been doing for years only with better battery life - Get over it.

techrepublic4js
techrepublic4js

I like the overall article and getting quick facts on the iPhone 3Gs enterprise-readiness is good. But describing the Blackberry as "more secure" is outright wrong and a totally unfair comparison. Data flowing on a Blackberry device flows through central servers controlled and owned by RIM. For that reason, "security" might be better in some ways when it comes to keep script kiddies out, but it also means that it is totally depending on RIMS capability to keep a clean network and keeping their hands away from their customers data. In fact, the Blackberry devices are BLACKLISTED from use in a number of high-security environments such as Diplomatic missions, embassies, government agencies, military contractors, etc. In this light, i find it surprising that the Blackberry is described as "secure" when real high security organizations won't touch it.

msopuch
msopuch

It's fascinating how many units of basic product you can sell desperates whilst they are waiting for what they really want in the next gen. Timing is Apple's strength that plays on your weakness.

HipposRule
HipposRule

...on a corporate PC, you must be joking.

sbarman
sbarman

While an enterprise does not have to go through RIM's servers, you need to install RIM's Enterprise Servers in front of your exchange server. However, that does not free you from RIM's servers. The push part of the RIM service that tells the BB when you have mail does go through RIM servers in Toronto. If the push notification cannot go through, email services fail. Therefore, even the enterprise server is not totally "free" from the RIM servers!

Master G
Master G

Have to second this as I setup and work with BES and BB for 4 years now. It all depends on your carrier and your Exchange and BES server. So no third provider ( RIM ) needs to get a hold of your emails. There is nothing more easy and versatile than a BB. Iphone just have a pretty LCD and slick apps but in the end you are just doing the same - Phone, Email, Messenger, Web.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

The privacy and data protection issues here would take years to sort out.

Master G
Master G

I wouldnt want a doctor to have that info in the phone. He/she loses the phone and there you have my info posted online. Now, there are some hospitals that have tablet PCs for that purpose. It's harder to lose even though they still lose them anyways. Iphone is already HUGE~~. I'll just wait for Android to fully develop!

GoodOh
GoodOh

Now this is interesting: "It is also required for downloading and installing software updates for devices and installing your enterprise applications. For more information, see Chapter 4." So each software upgrade (OS and apps) will require a line of iPhone users queued up at some support desk to get the software upgrade installed on the 'iTunes equipped' machine. Not stupid and maybe even desirable in some companies 'show us you still have the phone we issued you' but will be interesting!

jferrell
jferrell

iTunes was requried for iphone v1.0, not the new one. The new follows the same steps to activate as if you just bought a $25 nokia from the ATT store.

techrepublic4js
techrepublic4js

My gues would be that you haven't tried it. I have had many smartphone over the years. Expensive Nokia units, expensive SonyEricsson units, QTecs, HTCs ... none come close to the great user experience I have found on the iPhone (Gen1). Don't look at the feature list. TRY IT! Looking at the feature list is like looking at a list of ingredients in a recipe, and comparing two dishes which have the same ingredients. But there is a hell of a difference on how the ingredients have been used by the chef. And trust me, when it comes to smartphones, Apple are gourmets! I have 2 HTCs in my drawer, and they are staying there! - Jesper

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

Diplomatic missions, embassies, government agencies, military contractors don't use the Internet either!!!!

BobfromNY
BobfromNY

At some point the AT&T exclusivity contract has to be up. Anyone know when I might be able to get this thru Verizon?

Ret.Miles
Ret.Miles

Mark, re-read where it says, "For IT departments, one of the major drawbacks of the original iPhone was that users had to have iTunes ? not an enterprise-approved application ? for desktop syncing and software updates. With the advent of the iPhone Configuration Utility, that?s no longer the case." So iTunes is not required.

garibaldi69@
garibaldi69@

That depends on the version of BES you have. the free and sbs versions might do that (I don't use those) but if you get the Enterprise it does everything. There is however a CAL call home feature that if you block it, your BES will fail in a few weeks. Rims way of keeping you legal. Also many people don't know that the new versions of Exchange have built in push. I haven't tested yet, but that could hurt BES in a major way.

cnordby
cnordby

Just to be clear, I'm not connected with the company. I work security contracts now. As a former medic who worked both in remote environments and the clinical setting, let me assure you, this will happen and it will be huge. The website: http://www.myliferecord.net/ The blurb: HIPAA law mandates that you are entitled to a copy of your medical record and further stipulates that your doctor must provide it to you. My Life Record makes it easy to get your official medical record into your My Life Record profile with no extraordinary effort by you or your doctor. Using patent pending technology, simply touch the Add Record icon on your iPhone, and My Life Record will provide a single step process for your doctor to follow to get your records into your My Life Record profile. The record is an exact duplicate of your official medical record, so there is no question as to the accuracy of the information that is contained within the record. No problems with security bacause they are your records on your phone. Also, if the docs are using them in a hospital setting, then the enterprise security features built in to the new 2.0 iPhone software allow total control of access to the data, encrypted transmission, and remote deletion if the handset is lost.

meski.oz
meski.oz

Why is it so important that enterprise iPhones not have iTunes? I can understand that some aspects of iTunes (which you can turn off) might be a problem, but the whole app?

GoodOh
GoodOh

I too was lukewarm on the iPhone. Didn't see what the fuss was about. However, I wandered into a store at 3pm Friday 11 July (after the crowd had left) and they had some 8Gb 3Gs left so picked one up. It's truly amazed me with how far above my expectations the bits that are there work and the apps available etc etc. It really is a tasty little bit of tech put together is a way that makes it more than the sum of its parts. There is still a few things missing (e.g. cut and paste, anyone!) and what's there is not perfect but it's surprisingly good. Wander into a shop in a few weeks time (when the echoes of the hype have died down) and get a demo. You might be as happily surprised as I have been. Or maybe you'll have your scepticism supported. But I do think its something you have to experience to really 'get it'. On the main article. I would agree Apple have moved the iPhone from unacceptable to minimally acceptable within business. A long way to go to be impressive but no longer being meet with howls of fear and disgust in the enterprise world is a good step for V2.0. Be interesting of V3.0 goes further down the path or will Apple be happy to stay at this level. Time will tell.

rwills
rwills

I'm unsure why you state that contractors, military or government agencies do not use the blackberry because in fact they do. I know personally of a US Senator AND a DOD employee with a high clearance level that BOTH use a blackberry. And in fact, the DOD employee is responsible for a tool that is presented to all branches of the US military on the Internet.

madaz_rx8
madaz_rx8

who do you thing gave birth to the internet

techrepublic4js
techrepublic4js

I actually believe that they DO use the internet. But that is besides the point. They DO use corporate mail. And using a BB even for internal mail only, will still route the mails through RIMs servers. Which is why they won't touch the BBs. - Jesper

mis
mis

There's the LG Voyageur and LG Dare on the phone side. Unless u want a PDA.

mis
mis

Nothing is 100% secure and don't forget it's a portable device, the chances of it being lost or stolen is very high risk as well.

GoodOh
GoodOh

If we posit medical staff as dumb as they would have to be to do as you suggest then you had no chance anyway. Anyone dumb enuf to do as you suggest would probably give you the dose in onces instead mile and kill you anyway. Your example makes no sense. Pure (and bad) FUD!

Jimmy B
Jimmy B

Maybe this is a little naive of me, but I would venture to guess that the record would have the name of the patient on it. So there you are, lying unconscious in the ER with your buddies iPhone. My question is do you have your wallet on you? If you have a place to store your buddies phone I would guess that you have your wallet, which would have your drivers license in it, which has...your name on it. So if the name (and picture) on the drivers license doesn't match the name that's on the patient record, I would have to hope that the medical staff in the ER would not be stupid enough to issue you a drug based on a report that has no relevance to you. But we are just talking about a hypothetical situation, so I suppose anything is possible.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

I borrowed my mates iPhone and was suddenly taken ill. Currently I lay unconscious in the ER. According to the 'phone' he can take drug x. Unfortunately 'I can't'. I was given the drug. Fatal.

GoodOh
GoodOh

It's not iTunes on the phone but the need for iTunes on a business desktop or laptop that is the issue.

GoodOh
GoodOh

My music is on my 160gb iPod. It'll be many a year till anyone can sell me enough hand held flash memory to hold my music so it's a non issue to me. BTW no sales work involved. "Do you have one?" "Yes" "Give it to me."

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

well done them! The phone needs more space before I would consider it - I like to carry all my music!

wolfshades
wolfshades

I have a relative who works for the government who confirms that they do indeed use Blackberry exclusively, because of its data encryption.

mis
mis

The US Department of Defense and ARPAnet.

Editor's Picks