Are iPads welcome in your office?

These days, the chief executives and other leaders in the organization ask IT to connect their Apple iPad into their businesses. One of the more frequent questions chief executives, as well as their IT professionals, ask is if the iPad is secure in the office.

In my estimation, generally speaking, Microsoft exceeds in the enterprise company networks because of, among other reasons, the manageability of Microsoft networks. On the other hand, Apple is wildly successful in the consumer market for personal devices.

Expecting Microsoft to be the top performer in personal devices and/or expecting Apple to rein in the business networks of the world is, in my opinion, unreasonable. Yes, before Apple fans get their feathers all ruffled, there are exceptions to Apple working in business—especially for individual users connected to the corporate network. Additionally, new managed services can help solve the problems some people notice associated with centrally maintaining several Apple devices on the same network.

Apple is, in my estimation, working hard to get the iPad accepted and implemented in offices. To that end, Apple has adopted some security and business integration measures. For security in particular, refer to this informational PDF.

In summary, security features include:

  • Support for WPA2 for Wi-Fi security (both PSK and Enterprise)
  • Support for VPNs
  • Password support including options for complexity, length, forced changes, lockout, etc.
  • Integration with Exchange
  • Ability for the IT department to enforce policies
  • Remote data wipe
  • PKI support including code signing requirements

Many of our clients are integrating the iPad into their organizations.

Will you or have you already used the iPad and/or another slate device on your corporate network?

Please post your comments on this blog.


4 Comments

  • Michael Senkbeil June 2, 2011 at 8:09 am - Reply

    Apple has a considerable lead in tablet/slate devices over Android-powered devices, and we’ve been supporting Microsoft ActiveSync devices for several years. We’ve told our clients that we support iPads as well, at least as far as syncing with Outlook/Exchange is concerned. We’ve asked our clients to manage their iPad using iTunes on their home computers, and then we set the device to sync to their business email system. This keeps the software which manages music and third party apps for their iPad off of their business computer, and generally keeps it more reliable.

    • Mike Foster June 2, 2011 at 4:31 pm - Reply

      Thank you Michael! I know many executives who would like their IT Consultants to provide the kind of support you do over the slates of their own choice.

  • Bob Menning October 23, 2011 at 10:29 am - Reply

    Mike,
    How do you feel about providing access to corporate applications and data to an iPad? what if it was delivered by a virtual hosting service like Citrix and securied by policies delived by a Citrix Netscaler? I know nothing is fool proof but our clients are looking for more than e-mail from their iPads? Your thoughts.
    Thanks
    Bob

    • Mike Foster October 24, 2011 at 10:46 am - Reply

      Bob,

      This topic comes up often in consulting – almost every client. Executives are (almost) demanding iPad support while IT is understandably concerned about current and future security ramifications.

      At the basic level, often access to Exchange is enough to appease the senior level executives – as you indicated. In your case, with application delivery, then I feel Citrix is a great way to go.

      The biggest concern here is the small size and keyboard constraints of an iPad or any other slate device – depending on the user interface of the applications. Executives may find the Air, or one of the alternatives, to be useful. But, let’s face it, lots of executives just like the “cool factor” of the iPad and are willing to tolerate the user interface challenges. Hence the reason for “Apps” that provide alternate user interfaces (bigger bigger fonts, buttons, etc) for otherwise PC (or OS-X) based applications.

      The logical determining factors often include, if necessary, upgrades to the IT systems in order to utilize a Citrix deployment – sometimes even without NetScaler.

      Additionally, executives often make the decisions based on other factors besides the “IT logical factors.” While IT may see the other factors as irrelevant, senior level executives may deem them very beneficial. For example, sometimes Executives feel the iPad integration will impress the organization’s customers and demonstrate that the organization is “keeping up with the times.”

      Senior level executives will ultimately experience the consequences to any decisions they make. The role of IT professionals is to ensure that senior executives are informed about the pros and cons, so they can make an informed decision based on ROI and other factors.

      Any IT choice is up to the customer – they are always right. IT’s job is to make sure they know pros and cons, especially what they are putting at risk. Face it, if one IT firm won’t deliver what they want, they’ll just go find a firm that will. And, if one IT professional internal to an organization won’t deliver what the executives want, …

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