Enterprise device management: A brave new world

Windows desktops aren't the only game in town. Smartphones and tablets are changing the face of IT client management, whether you like it or not.

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IT device management ain't what it used to be.

Windows desktops and laptops aren't going anywhere anytime soon, but they are no longer the only options for end users. It doesn't stop at corporate-issued BlackBerry devices, either. More employees are using their PCs (often with alternative operating systems), smartphones and tablets to access corporate systems. And they're doing so whether or not their IT departments support those OSes or devices.

Users are driving this endpoint explosion because these devices give them more flexibility in terms of where, when and how they do their work. On the flip side, these devices cause headaches in IT departments, where they open the door to security vulnerabilities, compliance violations and more. Administrators may choose to address these risks by officially supporting these PCs, smartphones and tablets, but doing so makes IT device management more difficult. More devices, more complexity.

Even traditional Windows desktop management is changing. Windows 8, due in late 2012, will be able to run on PCs as well as netbooks and tablets, thanks to ARM processor support. And it will look and act much differently than its predecessors, with a tiled interface and touch-screen capabilities reminiscent of a mobile OS.

These changes will not only affect IT device management, but also application development, deployment and use. Corporate apps on mobile devices don't always work properly -- smartphones are especially susceptible to this problem because of their small screens, which can make it difficult for users to see all the information they need.

This special report features news and analysis on the latest IT device management trends, including business smartphone use and Apple iPad enterprise management.



BUSINESS TABLET USE AND IPAD ENTERPRISE MANAGEMENT

Apple CEO Steve Jobs gets mocked for calling the iPad "magical," but there’s no denying the tablet’s appeal. For proof, look no further than the crowds in your local Apple Store.

Because of the iPad's popularity, administrators in charge of IT device management must pay attention to business tablet use, even in organizations that don’t support these gadgets. Thanks to features such as Exchange ActiveSync, iPad users can access corporate email on these devices without involving the IT department at all. And savvy employees can even download remote desktop apps to access their entire corporate PCs on their tablets.

IT pros may not want to get into the complex business of iPad enterprise management, but they can't turn a blind eye to business tablet use, either.

Business tablet use ready to erupt
Organizations are increasing spending on tablets this year, according to SearchMobileComputing.com's annual reader survey. Fifty-eight percent of respondents said they would spend more on tablets in 2011, and only 14% said they would not spend on tablets at all. In another sign of enterprise tablet growth, tablets and smartphones were tied for having the largest year-over-year growth in organizational spending on mobile technologies. Apple was the top tablet vendor, with 72% of respondents signaling some interest in the iPad. No other vendor broke the 30% mark.

Apple iPads force their way into corporate IT
Connecting an iPad to a corporate IT network isn't very complicated, but that doesn't mean you should do it. Application providers say that iPads, despite their appeal among mobile workers, have several downsides for both users and admins. The iPad has no USB ports, and printing requires a special app and a wireless printer. Plus, from a device management standpoint, its remote-wipe and application-control capabilities are lacking.

Making a case for tablets in the enterprise
Despite the above problems with business tablet use and IT device management, there are some cases where tablets in the enterprise make sense. For sales professionals, tablets make it easy to show demos, give presentations and even enter orders, thanks to mobile customer relationship management apps. And tablets can also simplify video and Web conferencing by relying on their built-in cameras and software, eliminating the need for monitors, cables and special equipment.

Can Windows, Android catch up to iPad?
The iPad got off to an early lead in the tablet market thanks to Apple's devoted consumer base. But when it comes to business tablet use, Windows and Android may have more appeal. Some experts say Windows tablets will be easier to manage because of Windows' dominance in traditional desktop computing, and others say the iPad lacks the necessary features for full enterprise use.

VMware's iPad app: A lesson in contradiction?
The rise of cloud computing, business tablet use and other new technologies has led some to predict the death of the traditional operating system. Chief among these prognosticators is VMware CEO Paul Maritz, who, of course, has a vested interest in seeing this vision become reality. But at the same time, his company has released the VMware View iPad Client, which lets iPad users remotely connect to their Windows desktops. The release of VMware's iPad app shows that the traditional OS isn't dying and that we are entering a world in which there are multiple ways to access corporate systems.



BUSINESS SMARTPHONE MANAGEMENT

Research In Motion's BlackBerry has been the business smartphone standard for more than a decade, thanks to the high level of control it gives to administrators. But more consumers are now buying their own smartphones, such as Apple's iPhone, or devices with Google's Android or Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 operating systems. As a result, IT executives must decide how -- or even if -- they want to incorporate these relative newcomers into their IT device management strategies.

Apple iPhone in the enterprise
Apple debuted its iPhone in 2007, and just a year and a half later -- after the release of the iPhone 3G in mid-2008 -- it had surpassed the BlackBerry for second place in global smartphone market share. (Google's Android OS has since overtaken the iPhone.) Apple does not market the iPhone as a business smartphone, but the device's popularity among consumers has caught the attention of IT pros in charge of device management.

Windows Phone 7 in the enterprise
Released in late 2010, Windows Phone 7 is Microsoft's latest attempt to crack the mobile market. Like the iPhone, it was developed as a consumer device, not a business smartphone. For example, it lacks in-depth policy control for email access and remote-wipe capabilities. As such, some experts have low expectations for Windows Phone 7 in the enterprise. Microsoft resellers and solutions providers are a little more optimistic, but even some of these partners say Windows Phone 7 is too little, too late for the company to catch up to its business smartphone competitors. Analyst firm IDC, however, is bullish on Windows Phone 7's success and predicts that it will outsell the iPhone by 2015.

ABOUT THIS AUTHOR
Colin Steele
is the Senior Site Editor of SearchServerVirtualization.com. Contact him at csteele@techtarget.com.

This was first published in June 2011

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