iPad Gains in the Enterprise, But Security Still an Issue

This post is part of our ReadWriteEnterprise channel, which is a resource and guide for IT managers and technologists in the Enterprise. The channel is sponsored by Intel. As you’re exploring solutions for your enterprise, check out this helpful resource from our sponsors: All New 2010 Intel Core vPro Processors and Microsoft Office 2010: Your Best Choice for Business PCs

ipadimage.jpgIt’s clear that Apple’s initial success with the iPad is spilling into the enterprise.

Bloomberg Business Week reported today that Well Fargo took two years to support the iPhone. But this spring, the company approved the iPad in the span of a few weeks. Mercedes is thinking of iPads for its 350 U.S. dealerships.

The iPad is an iconic product that people want to use at home and at work. But this is business we’re talking about. And what can make or break a product in a business environment?

Security.

Wells Fargo attributes its fast acceptance of the iPad to this very reason. Sure it looks good. But how many enterprises out there are more interested in looks than security? Not many.

The iPad has almost all the attributes of a secure, enterprise ready device. It now has 256 bit encryption. Both the iPhone and the iPad support Microsoft Exchange. As Chickbits wrote in a blog post yesterday:

“…and you can configure strong passwords, password expiration, password reuse history, max failed login attempts, auto-lock and remote wipe. You can also create and deploy configuration profiles using the iPhone Configuration Utility that control installation of apps and user interaction. This is very useful if your business has to abide by compliance regulations. You can even create a password protected profile that cannot be removed by the user.”

For people working remotely, Chickbits adds there are Citrix SSL VPN and Citrix apps available in the Apps store to enable remote access. Two-factor authentication support is already built-in.

But the iPad is not fool proof and it may give the competition a bit of an edge. As Bloomberg points out, a breach on the AT&Tweb site lead to the leak of 114,000 Apple iPad email addresses.

From Bloomberg:

“Apple aims to keep its products secure in part by carefully vetting the applications that can be downloaded onto it. Still, the process is “not foolproof, it will be subverted eventually,” said Mikko Hyppönen, chief research officer of Helsinki-based security firm F-Secure.”

Companies like Hewlett-Packard, LG Electronics Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. plan to launch tablet computers. Cisco is releasing a tablet that leverages its strength in video. It will provide the capability to do video conferencing.

These companies have inherent strengths. They have long histories with enterprise customers. They sell into IT departments all the time.

But they don’t have Apple’s buzz nor do they have the sex appeal.

But this is the enterprise. And even if the iPad is secure, Apple is viewed as a consumer focused company. At this point, it’s hard to tell if that is a hindrance or not.

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