iPad

Will the iPad be a support nightmare for IT?

The wait is over. Apple has officially announced its tablet PC--the iPad. If the iPad makes its way into business IT, do you have any support concerns?

Podcast

The long, long wait is over. Apple has officially announced its tablet PC--the iPad. The iPads specs are as follows:

  • 1 GHz Apple A4 chip
  • 16, 32, or 64 GB of Flash storage
  • 9.7-inch IPS display
  • 802.11n Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 2.1
  • Accelerometer and compass
  • 10-hour battery life

Shortly after Apple's iPad press event, I spoke with TechRepublic's Jason Hiner and ZDNet's Andrew Nusca about the iPad potential effect on business users. You can play this 23-minute episode from the Flash-based player at the top of the page or:

I think we all agreed that the iPad is primarily a consumer device, but that it might have a few niche business uses--a second computer that you use in conference rooms, at meetings, or while traveling. If the iPad does make its way into corporate IT, I'm interested to hear the TechRepublic audience's concerns about supporting the device.

Are you concerned about security? What about application compatibility? Do you think the device will be more expensive to support than a traditional laptop or even a netbook? Let me know.

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

28 comments
jonrosen
jonrosen

Assuming it ever makes it INTO a company that it would need to be worked on by IT.. then yes. OTHER: was my vote. definition being 'ALL OF THE ABOVE' One that should have been there in the first place. The only i-anything where I work is iTunes, and I'd be more than happy to get rid of that. As others have stated, the iPad MIGHT be a nice TOY, but as it currently is, has no reason to be included into any business model, save perhaps some graphic-design house that all they use is mac-based products.

phreefal
phreefal

The iPad is (unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your perspective) not ready for the corporate world. Even with its small number of "Gee-Whiz" features, it is still not much more than an overgrown iPod Touch: too big to be a phone and too small to be a computer. I seriously doubt that anyone has to worry about supporting it other than showing users how to configure their wireless connections.

jasonm0430
jasonm0430

Yep, I get so sick of hearing about how great Apple's devices are. Sure they are very solid and well engineered CONSUMER products. I've heard every argument and read plenty of articles to know that Apple has led the way with user interfaces this ingenuity is required in our tech savvy world. Now for making a MAC work on a corporate network. Good luck. I work for a Fortune 500 company in a network admin team. We have a few MAC's throughout the organization none of which can perform on a large scaled network like a PC. They have limited networking functionality but tools have not been created to manage the Apple devices effectively. When you support the number of PCs, Laptops, Servers, and mobile devices that we do, consistent environment has to be at the core of infrastructure planning. I'm not bashing the iPad or any of Apple's devices I just feel they were intended for a smaller environment and when added to the mix they are a nightmare for our limited staff to support.

fatmouse
fatmouse

I think the ipad has a few cost issues. I first see the cost of purchase $400 to $800 per unit. also the the fees for 3G service to use the ipad to it's fullist. I like apple products but they are not the most durable products. so there is the cost of Icare or just replace or repair. also the time of setting up and maintaining duplicate accounts for users who also have a workstation. and the additional cost for software licence fees. these are just a few things that I can see swaying IT depts. and CIO's from jumping on the ipad wagon. Just my 2 cents.

Threv
Threv

The Ipad will not a be support problem because we dont support toys. Despite other opinions that execs may flock to this device app store or not it is basically a giant iPOD touch (IE Toy)a multi media device that like pods , mp3payers etc are not even allowed on our networks. (We do device blocking etc) So no iPad, no problem. If they want a PC, we give them a real PC if they want a mobil Data device they can have a Blackberry or Treo. As for slate-style notetaking we arlady have HP tablets that are decent PCs' that excel in this regard. (writing is generally faster than typing esp on virtual keys). so tell me again waht this brings the business table?

Desert Rose
Desert Rose

Since there is no way that an iPad would ever become a standard computing equipment in our environment...the answer is a resounding no! If one of the staff were to purchase one on their own, that's fine, but we have never and will never support personal devices. What would be the point? The iPad has no practical value in a corporate environment as far as I am concerned.

brian.catt
brian.catt

No This is , at last, a closed consumer device not intended for and inappropriate for , corporate use - as it stands. Its a proper closed computing device for a mass market who just want to browse, complete forms and write emails - no significant content creation outside email - with no BS OS to upgrade or overweight barely used apps to keep techies pointlessly employed upgrading, training and fixing. iPad is not for techies to mess with or corporate power users to use. I do expect a two tier corporate computing hierarchy to emerge when they realise most corporate users can't use and don't need most of the computing power they have, especially the CEO. Brian

oldbaritone
oldbaritone

A non-compatible processor, running a non-compatible operating system on a stand-alone box. Eventually, the Palm became the Pre, and got better at "work and play well with others." And the Palm Pilot was relegated to the boneyard of the dinosaurs. Is history repeating itself?

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

no 'personal device' with a memory capacity like that will be allowed to connect to the corp network for data security reasons. Same with phones and USB's are encrypted and supplied by IT.

Aaron Mason
Aaron Mason

The iPad, like most of Apple's gadgets, is a black box. We don't know what's inside it. We don't know how it stores data. And we won't know that until the hardware hackers break the security on it. How do we know that a rogue app couldn't come along, hook up to our DBs over the WiFi and slurp the confidential data off*? Or open a potential backdoor into the network? We don't know what this device can do, we don't control what gets run on it. Until we can install our own apps on them and control them centrally, they can't be trusted. Of course, if users are happy to use them on the condition that they are not to use them to access or store confidential data that isn't encrypted, then I think they'd make a valuable addition to note taking, documentation reading on the road, any situation where even a laptop would be too cumbersome. I'd probably steer them in the direction of one of the Atom-powered tablet PCs, though. * = That said, anybody dumb enough to allow that kind of direct access to the DB should be shot. Then dug up, cloned, and their clones shot. And then pointed towards a career in catering - the fast food variety.

techd_admin
techd_admin

Aaron, perhaps catering companies could use the iPad for menu planning. The later v.2.0, which is clone-operable. I could see a tablet device as useful in engineering or architectural field work, where plans (and field notes or changes known as "as built") can be accessed in-depth. Current builds uploaded at 0500, and revisions downloaded at end-of-day, or sent via WiFi, for engineering consult. As a replacement for a "real" computer? No. I'm already homicidal towards those who insist on using a netbook or smartphone to demand documents or images, only to read a follow-on email: "I can't view that. I left my computer back at the office, and need this sent some other way. Sent from my ___ Mobile." Plain text usually works: You are fired. Find your own way back. Your tickets have been revoked.

ks.choi
ks.choi

No multi-tasking. No USB port.

Aaron Mason
Aaron Mason

... they're pretty darn useless. But for simple tasks like taking notes, going over documentation, things like the iPad are the bee's knees. Like I said in another post, I'd probably want to look into one of the Atom-powered tablets - at least you'd be able to control them with GPOs on a domain.

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

Seeing as we will not be supporting the devices (we are a compliance-driven organization....so anything not IT-approved is disallowed....have strong backing of executives for this policy), I don't foresee any concerns.

jjcanaday
jjcanaday

Won't be a problem. I won't even try.

V.H. Scarpacci
V.H. Scarpacci

There is not enough utility in the iPad to justify the purchase in the first place and at my company. we don't support users home equipment. Support, therefore won't be a problem.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

The APPLE iPad will not be supported where I work. The FUJITSU iPad, on the other hand... ;)

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Listening to people whine when I tell them we have no intention of supporting a device that has no apparent business function. On the other hand, few of our employees have that kind of money to throw around anyway.

GSG
GSG

If this was a year ago, we'd have everyone whining to get the product, then whining and running to administration when we said no because it's not an approved device, either by us, our vendor, the FDA, or any combination of all three. Now, the cost of new hardware (except for infrastructure) comes out of their department budgets. They make the request, we check the approved hardware list, and if it matches, then they have to sign the "I understand that I'm paying this much for it" spot on the PO. Funny, but the hardware purchases have dropped dramatically. Seems that it's not that important to have the 21 inch flat panel instead of the 19 inch flat panel when it's coming out of their budget instead of the IT budget. So, nope, not getting it, not approved for use in our environment, and they won't want to pay for it. The only whiners will be the Doctors, I'm sure.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

He's always surprised to rediscover that earning a medical degree automatically confers expert knowledge in non-medical disciplines.

GSG
GSG

Had a doctor tell me that I didn't know much about healthcare because I wasn't a doctor. My response was, "How long have you been a doctor?" His reply, "A year". My reply, "I've worked in Healthcare for 20 years. You may know more about being a doctor, but I know more about the Healthcare industry in general." He walked away.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

The long, long wait is over. Apple has officially announced its tablet PC?the iPad. If the iPad does make its way into corporate IT, I?m interested to hear the TechRepublic audience?s concerns about supporting the device. Are you concerned about security? What about application compatibility? Do you think the device will be more expensive to support than a traditional laptop or even a netbook? Let me know. Take the poll and share your comments in this discussion thread. Original post and poll: http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/itdojo/?p=1478

inet32
inet32

Many (I think most, these days) environments have web-based, i.e., browser-based apps. In the last place I worked we had dozens of apps for everything from timesheets to benefits to performance evaluations to document management, etc,etc. And the company had a policy of only allowing users to use IE, because there were problems running some of them on Firefox. The sad reality is that all browsers implement HTML, CSS, and javascript differently. They even vary between rev's of the same browser - IE 6, 7 and 8 don't behave exactly the same. So a website that works fine on IE7 might not look or work well on Firefox 3.0.6. Currently Safari is not a common corporate browser but if all the corporate web-based apps have to run properly on it now it's going to add new software and support issues.

KimtheButcher
KimtheButcher

Personally i think it is a waste of time to even think about introducing such an item into a corporate environment, especially immediately after launch of the product. I know nothing of the iPad, but i do know of the past experience of users who have purchased a new apple product, only to have it underperform and hence disappoint users' expectancies. Apple have no quality assurance and hence their products, at least initially, are worthless. My 2 cents

jamesfrench866
jamesfrench866

You have a right to think negatively about the iPad, but you should "think again." Go to: http://www.apple.com/iphone/business/apps-for-iphone/ and check out the thousands of apps for the iPhone, all of which will work on the iPad. The iPhone saved me from purchasing a laptop for now. The advantage of the iPad is first its larger screen. It would be great for presentations or watching videos, or surfing the net for that matter. I can even do remote desktop to PC from iPhone with PC2me, which was actually an added bonus, as I got PC2me for around $10.00 so as to see and hear streaming video and audio on the iPhone from wireless webcam. I am able to watch and hear on iPhone the window for the webcam app despite the fact that iPhone does not support Real Time Streaming Protocol. This was a way around the problem which had to be solved to monitor an elderly relative. When the ipad is available for purchase as both wifi and 3G version, PC2me will work on iPad as is, as well as any future development for iPad version. This is just one example of the usefulness of applications. I didn't mention IT/Utility apps such as: iNet, Startup Lite, MobileStudio, Dell Diags, Briefcase Lite, Filemagnet, Mactracker, OS Tips, Discover, FTPOnTheGo, ACTPrinter, Print, Word Tips, Cables, PatchCable, Download, Scany, Cisco SIOToGo, A+, AplusExam, CompTIA702, and many others, not to mention ability to transfer PDFs and other useful documents to iPhone and eventually iPad using Bonjour, non configuration method of communicaton with devices on IP network. These devices (iPhone and iPad) also are great for documentation, in text, photos (build in camera) and sound recording. You can also access the web, email for searching for solutions for problems. I also have the Computer Desktop Encyclopedia which is incredible (2009 version)all in a pocket sized device. I didn't mention podcasts and videos, for free as well as paid for educational as well as books including Kindle. It may not be for everyone, but it can be a very useful tool(s) as well as ability to carry your music and photos, and games and entertainment, as well as find the nearest gas station or certain type of business.

jfuller05
jfuller05

because there won't be any users with iPads. During meetings, the pen and pad are still useful apparently, as are laptops. No need for the iPad, so no concern for supporting it.

cschmittotc
cschmittotc

I don't see it as too much of a nightmare for IT. Web applications... yeah they could be a bit troublesome but in theory they should work if the application is supported in Safari. In regards to security, I'm curious to hear some arguments about that. iPhone OS 3 has device wipe after failed password attempts and correct me if I am wrong but I think it supports Exchange Server's Remote wipe feature? I don't see any increase in price supporting a tablet PC or iPad. I could however see an increase in productivity in some areas. It is a regular practice at my company to do multiple walkthrough's of our data centers and record everything. Having an iPad would only speed this up and be much easier for the person doing it instead of carrying a laptop or wasting paper. Chris System Admin http://onlinetech.com

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