iOS 8 for Enterprises

Certainly you’ve read some of the many news and articles about the new version 8 of Apple’s iOS, which circulated in the past few months in the media. All the new functions and applications where described extensively in these texts. In business, this is important, but equally important are things that home users mostly do not care for. These mainly include data security, a coordinated management of the mobile equipment and the software as well as an accurate measurability of productivity improvement. There are still companies – especially in the middle range -, which refrain from introducing a mobile strategy. Be assured that you cannot afford to follow this behavior. There are two important reasons. For one, you will not be able to resign the productivity growth which is connected with a well-managed mobile strategy. The other reason is that employees and customers force you. Unlike for companies, from the perspective of the employee there is no contradiction of private use and work. For them, dealing with mobile devices, the same features are important at home as at work: the ease of use, the design, the access to apps, the sharing with other people, the fast access to information. In addition, they want to apply privately used equipment also at work, or – vice versa – use smartphones or tablets provided by the company at home. Be aware that employees do this anyway, if it suits you or not. Because they have seen at home that these devices simplify things a lot. The same applies for your customers. They also increasingly have the need to use mobile applications. The example of the car manufacturers shows how important the integration of mobile devices and the connection to the Internet is. It has become one of the main selling points for new vehicles. To take seriously the needs of employees and customers is known to be the best method to increase their satisfaction. And, subsequently, your productivity and your sales. It should therefore be clear that the introduction of a mobile enterprise strategy really has benefits. But it is also clear that the interests of companies on the one hand and employees on the other hand are different. The needs of a company for data security and protection against hacker attacks require actually a rather insular system. In contrast, employees want easy access to the corporate network and hate to be confronted with a high security laboratory in their private time. In this situation, there is basically only the strategy to build a business area and a private area, so the data are clearly separated and can be managed independently. iOS 8 is one of the most popular operating systems in this direction, and also one of the most popular in business. We have analyzed whether iOS 8 has practical concepts for solving this problem. The corresponding features are part of the areas of security, IT management and integration.

Security

In the area of security, Apple has definitely an advantage over other manufacturers. They can control the interaction of hardware and operating system, because they produce both themselves. Third-party software is released by Apple only after a thorough examination. In this way, less errors and problems occur. The drawback is however, that enterprises make themselves dependent on Apple’s infrastructure. A related problem is the lack of integration of other platforms such as Windows or Android, which would be especially important in business.

Authentication

A general password protection was integrated already in older versions of iOS. That was a threat to enterprise data, if the password got into the wrong hands, or if it was unsafe. That is why Apple has built an individual password protection. It is based on private keys and can be used for data and apps (even for native apps such as Calendar or Contacts). Even Apple itself cannot crack this protection. The new Touch ID allows authentication with a fingerprint. Since Apple has opened the appropriate APIs, companies can use them to incorporate this method in self-programmed applications. Thus, the apps and their data are protected twice: with the familiar user ID/password identification and by the personal fingerprint. The often occurring theft of passwords has therefore lost its dangers.

Mail

Similarly, Apple has implemented security at the personal level even in emails. Each mail can now be individually signed with S/MIME.

Management

In addition to the safety features for the business user, there are new functions for managing the mobile strategy of a company. These are important for administrators who can use them to make exact specifications to achieve the above-mentioned separation of private data and company data. Concerning this topic, you might have noticed that there are many beautiful English names with the corresponding abbreviations. Mostly they have been invented by the marketing department of the software companies that want to sell their mobile management programs. However, you should remember two of these abbreviations, because you will encounter them often: EMM and MDM. EMM is the abbreviation for Enterprise Mobility Management and refers to the overall management of all services, networks and devices at company level, which are used for mobile access. MDM is the abbreviation for Mobile Device Management and means only the management of mobile devices. Maybe you also encountered already another term: BYOD. This is the abbreviation for Bring Your Own Device. It is not a management strategy, but expresses that the employees use their own devices at work. With an MDM or EMM solution, it is possible to permit the private use of company mobile devices, or vice versa to use personal devices in the company. Android or iOS for example offer advanced features in this area. In iOS 8, information and documents can be provided with rights (policies). This applies to the formats iBook, ePub and PDF. The corresponding apps are managed, which means they have been approved by an administrator and the documents can thus only be read or changed using the designed programs. This creates a secure environment for the distribution of critical business information, such as manuals, news or contracts. Also it is possible to update documents or to delete old versions. Contents of websites that are opened with the Safari browser, or coming from the iCloud, can also be equipped with rights. PDFs, for example, can then be read only with authorized readers. Other functions for administrators ensure data persistence and the question for the last backup of a device. They can also prevent the remote wipe of the device (if it is stolen) and the editing or deletion of the given set of policies or services. In addition, IT can provide users with certificates that allow single sign on for corporate apps. While traveling, employees often use VPN (Virtual Private Network) to connect with the company if only open or insecure networks are available. With iOS 8, this functionality is more useful than before, mainly because of the new power-saving features. It is possible now to hold an existing connection over a longer time. By this means, it is possible to effectively separate private data and corporate data.

Integration

Integration means that both applications and data can be used on different hardware. This refers to the various Apple devices and partly also to PCs with Windows (over iCloud). Apple calls it the Handoff feature. This type of collaboration is possible with the Apple iOS operating systems 8 and OS X Yosemite (for Mac). The requirement is to enroll the device in a iCloud account. From now on, apps like Mail, Safari, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Cards, Messages, Reminders, Calendar or Contacts can be used everywhere together. For example, you can view a site with the iPad, disconnect the device, and then continue the session on the iPhone. Telephone calls may be answered not only with the iPhone, but also with the iPad or the Mac (if they are in the same wi-fi-network). iCloud could also be an issue for companies, but is currently still too focused on the needs of private users. Therefore, it is unlikely to be taken into consideration for applications in professional IT. To arouse interest in iCloud for companies, Apple would have to make its storage solution safe and easy for companies and employees alike.

Summary

iOS is an operating system that is aimed mainly at home users. That is the case also in the latest version 8, and most new features will appeal particularly to this group. But Apple has continuously expanded the functions for professionals, so that it now fits well into an administration with MDM or EMM. Sure, some features maybe still missing, but it is already usable. No wonder that iOS is one of the most popular operating systems in companies that have adopted BYOD. And the employees appreciate it.

Contact

Visit our website to get more information. Alternatively, you can call Mr. Moritz Biersack (089/1891 788 37), or send him an email (moritz.biersack@xinfo.de) – he will get back to you.