Device management for the iPad age

By Hal Steger
06 Apr 2011 View Comments
Funambol's Hal Steger

When the iPad launched in 2010, it became a must-have consumer item. Apple is now building on this success with the launch of the iPad 2, which is now on sale in the UK.

This latest iteration of the device is set to become commonplace in the workplace, particularly in offices and boardrooms, as executives demand the same level of versatility they receive from devices they use at home. But how will IT managers cater for this demand, and how will they manage the new layer of complexity that the integration of new devices brings?

Further reading

For executives, tablets provide a viable alternative to carrying a laptop between meetings. To begin with, they’re lightweight, but it’s the usability, navigation and power that make them perfect for demonstrations and presentations. Additional features such as embedded 3G connectivity also mean that the user is in constant communication with the company’s email and file servers, increasing productivity for those executives who spend a considerable amount of time away from a desk.

With more executives adopting consumer-centric smartphones and tablets, IT departments need to make a significant investment to support a diverse range of mobile devices and operating systems. Typically, with a homogenous fleet of devices, IT managers would have access to a device management suite enabling them to set standard security and access protocols across individual devices. The trouble is these proprietary systems only support one type of device or operating system.

IT managers are faced with having to deploy multiple device management systems, each with their own functionality, usability and protocols. Things are about to get a lot more costly and challenging.

IT departments need to find a new solution for multiple device management before the problem overwhelms them. That doesn’t lie in proprietary technology; successful support of multiple devices using different platforms can be achieved by adopting an open standards approach.

Enterprises can implement open source cloud-based device management solutions that provide the glue that stitches disparate devices and platforms together. By utilising the cloud, enterprises can also take advantage of mail and calendar sync protocols, maintaining connectivity and communication across all devices, regardless of whether an executive is on a BlackBerry one day and an iPad 2 the next.

Without an open source cloud solution, firms are tied to an inflexible system that will not be able to adapt to new apps, operating systems or devices.

Hal Steger is vice president of marketing at Funambol

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