Apple iPad Users Will Request Corporate IT Support

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Corporate IT managers need to prepare for employees bringing their iPads into work and requesting to sych up the new mobile devices with their office applications

Now that we know the Apple iPad exists and that it is similar to the iPhone/iTouch, what are the implications for enterprise IT managers?

If the “consumerisation of IT” trend continues, it’s safe to say that the iPad will start showing up on corporate networks as employees bring their personal iPad to the office.

It’s also safe to say that some employees will want to integrate their work email and calendar information with those applications on the iPad. And since there are thousands of business-oriented App Store applications already available for the iPhone and iTouch, including connectors to Salesforce.com, it’s only a question of “when” not “if” the iPad will wend its way into your organisation.

Since the iPad isn’t shipping today, here are my speculative thoughts about what IT enterprise managers should be thinking about to preempt iPad issues.

Will the iPad, like the iPhone, integrate with business messaging and management infrastructure? The iPhone works with Microsoft Exchange to provide over-the-air push email, calendar and contacts synchronisation. The iPhone also supports Cisco IPSec VPN and WPA2 for secure network access. If Apple provides similar integrations for the iPad then I’ll be looking for remote wipe and other policy controls that are available on the iPhone to be applied to the iPad.

Mobile device management companies have already been developing products to deal with iPhone monitoring, provisioning and configuration. If the iPad uses the same OS as the iPhone it seems that these tools will also work to manage the iPad too. Now is the right time to ask vendors including Boxtone, Zenprise, Odyssey and MobileIron about their plans to support the iPad.

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At the 27 January iPad announcement, much was made of the single-charge battery life. Unlike the MacBook Pro announcement last year, nothing was said about the expected lifespan of the sealed iPad battery. Steve Jobs did say that iPad components were highly recyclable.

All this implies that the iPad is intended to last the span of its battery and then be disposed of, which is not intrinsically negative from a corporate point-of-view. This does mean that in-house IT service of iPad hardware (battery, and drive) will likely be limited to issuing a new unit with user data installed rather than break/fix battery or drive replacement that I normally associate with mobile device maintenance.

The iPad will make its way into the business computing world. IT managers have an opportunity to use skills already honed from managing the iPhone to get a jump on ensuring that the iPad entry adds to productivity.

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