Cortado CEO Carsten Mickeleit tells us why Apple’s latest release means it stays ahead of the pack
I can still well remember the artificial fog in the event location that made it impossible for me to discern the beef at the buffet in the days of mad cow disease.
It was 2001 and, astonishingly, Symbian and Microsoft had picked the same place in London for the evening reception of their mobile developer conferences. It was my job to decide which operating system was the better one for our software development. I chose Symbian, which was the right decision for the years to come. Looking back from today, the BlackBerry – which we focused on, starting with the legendary 7210 model – seems to have been only a brief interlude.
But now back to the present, and the enterprise devices of today are quite clearly the iPhone and the iPad. Known vulnerabilities relate almost exclusively to the operating system versions before iOS 7. So for most customers, the lack of knowledge about the possibilities of iOS 7 and now 8 combined with the sometimes confusing solutions of the enterprise mobility providers is the biggest hurdle to implementing an efficient solution. How did we get to this point? Mobility, as described above, did not develop in a straight line, but rather in a zigzag course.
Customers choosing an enterprise mobility solution should therefore definitely look at how many tainted legacies from this zigzag course a solution still carries with it. SMS configuration to OMA standard (Open Mobile Alliance), third-party containers, and e-mail clients, as well as Linux-based systems, are concepts belonging to the past. And even hybrid approaches with cloud-based file sharing, where the important data is usually located in the company, and app wrapping too are approaches that have lost their power and today only lead to unnecessary expense. All these concepts are needless ballast today, because Apple has perfected its enterprise functions. iOS 7 laid the foundation and iOS 8 is expanding on it.
The main features in detail:
Managed Apps, Accounts, and Now New with iOS 8 Managed Domains
These features can be used in combination with a suitable MDM system to make secure business containers on the basis of any apps. Restrictions can be set up so that data is only exchanged within these containers. The native e-mail application and the Safari browser can be integrated into the container via managed apps and domains. This applies only to the business e-mail account and intranet websites. Personal e-mails and other websites are not affected. All data is fully encrypted on the basis of the unlock code, which is in the user’s head but not on the device. With the calendar and notes, Apple has incorporated the last apps it needed into iOS 8. The standards for these codes can be set from a central location.
Thus, app wrapping and third-party containers as well as special e-mail clients have become irrelevant. In a recent survey conducted by Cortado among business users, 64 percent of participants said that they would prefer the e-mail application of the operating system to a third-party e-mail application, among the iOS users it was 71 percent. With iOS 8, Apple improves this e-mail application yet again and now also provides the long-awaited function of when scheduling appointments and meetings of being able to view the available times of invitees.
New in iOS 8: Document Provider
With document provider, apps can directly access a storage system without the detour through Open-In which was formerly necessary. If the EMM solution chosen allows direct access to the file server, it is possible to fully integrate the devices into the corporate network. Interestingly, Apple demonstrated this feature at the Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) by showing access to Microsoft Office on iCloud. This means on the one hand a further opening up of Microsoft and indicates on the other hand, closer cooperation between the two companies.
New in iOS 8: Managed Books
This approach makes it possible to push books to iOS devices from the bookstore, but also eBooks and PDFs from the company, and to manage them. This ensures that only the latest revision of a document is available on the device. So standards can be implemented easily in highly regulated environments, such as for maintenance technicians in critical areas.
Printing is inseparable from the corporate context. Not many details about the printing features of iOS 8 are publicly available yet. But here too Apple means business. With iOS 7, it is already possible to assign printers to users with MDM profiles. We use this in the Cortado Corporate Server, for example, to assign the printer that is already assigned to the user in the Active Directory to his mobile device too. A corresponding driver emulates the iOS printing for all available printers.
iOS 8: Apple Increases Its Lead over the Competition
With iOS 8 comes a multitude of improvements. Is Apple’s lead enough for the next few years? I commit myself here and now, just as I once did in the artificial fog: YES. Apple’s lead is based not only on functions, but also on the consistent expansion of the platform. Anyone who looks at the improvements will see that Apple has its ear open to enterprise customers. And while Samsung and Google have spent two years going in a circles with of Knox 1, Knox 2 and now Android Work, Apple is already working on the next release. Knox 1 focused on partners and Knox 2 showed those same ones the door. That is how most EMM producers start with Android Work from the beginning and fill the gaps in the meantime with app wrapping that is very costly for the customers. In contrast, Apple has distinguished itself as a reliable partner. Even if Android Work fulfills all requirements – and yes, we at Cortado will support it too – it will still probably take a very long time before it is used on a majority of devices. The Apple iOS update, however, will achieve this within a few weeks.
The End of BlackBerry?
And what about BlackBerry? I personally know some hardcore BlackBerry fans, and I also still own one, but all these fans are devotees of the old iOS 7. Whether BlackBerry can pull off a revival is very hard to say. Probably not. Analysts see with iOS 8 the final line of security functions that could motivate the final holdouts to switch: Always On VPN, S/MIME encryption of e-mails, the option to disable AirDrop and many more.
And Windows Phone?
Many argue here that uniform management with the desktop is desirable. But I bet that iOS can be managed just as easily in combination with a MDM system that is well integrated into the Active Directory and that can also be controlled by PowerShell. In addition, iOS users have a highly functional device available thanks to Microsoft Office for iPad. So we at Cortado, just like Dropbox, are waiting with our file-sharing software for the time when Windows Phone allows us to develop software that will meet the basic needs of users. So far this has not been the case. Microsoft’s strategy to integrate the smartphone operating system with the desktop system does not need to accelerate this.
With iOS 8, Apple is strategically expanding its lead in the enterprise mobility field. With the right enterprise mobility system, you get a highly functional, secure, and very easy-to-maintain productivity platform. Companies need to seriously ask the question of how much extra expense it is worth to them to support other operating systems in addition to iOS.
Carsten Mickeleit is the founder and CEO of Cortado AG.
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