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iPad 2 v BlackBerry PlayBook: 7 Enterprise Considerations

By Al Sacco, CIO
March 03, 2011 05:08 PM ET

CIO - Steve Jobs tried to dismiss iPad's tablet rivals as "copycats" at Wednesday's iPad 2 launch. But whether Steve likes it or not, the tablet wars are officially on. And this battle will be decided not only by consumers and gadget lovers seeking the latest and greatest slates, but also by businesses and corporate workers looking for the next game-changing productivity tool.

You can expect to see many Android-based tablets from the likes of Motorola and Samsung, just to name a couple of manufacturers. Two of the most anticipated tablets of 2011 are Apple's iPad 2; and BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion's (RIM) BlackBerry PlayBook tablet.

While Apple is traditionally known as consumer-oriented company, RIM has in the past mostly catered to businesses, with a secondary consumer focus. And like these two technology giants, their respective tablets are worlds apart when it comes to enterprise features and functionality.

Which tablet is best for your business? Here are seven key considerations that enterprise IT staffs and business users should take into account when comparing Apple's shiny iPad 2 to RIM's workhorse BlackBerry PlayBook.

1. iPad 2 v BlackBerry PlayBook Security

Perhaps the most important factor that any organization thinking about a tablet deployment must take into account is security.

The PlayBook tablet was designed with security in mind, according to RIM, and though the company hasn't revealed exactly how future versions of the PlayBook will secure corporate data--more on this subject coming up--the initial, Wi-Fi only version won't store any corporate data on the device at all. Instead, the PlayBook will access corporate resources by tethering to a BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES)-connected BlackBerry smartphone.

In other words, the Wi-Fi only BlackBerry PlayBook will need to connect to a corporate BlackBerry smartphone for secure access to enterprise mail, calendar, tasks, etc. And while corporate data will be accessible via a smartphone-connected PlayBook, no enterprise data is ever stored on the tablet, making it an ideal option, at least from a security perspective--no sensitive data on-device means no data leaks if that device is lost, stolen or hacked.

However, the need for a BlackBerry smartphone is a clear disadvantage for organizations that don't already use RIM handhelds, and this fact will no doubt lead some companies to opt for the iPad 2 or another tablet over RIM's offering.

Organizations that already have BES should feel relatively secure in deploying PlayBooks, since no additional security measures are necessary and no sensitive information is every stored on the PlayBook

The iPad 2, on the other hand, connects to Microsoft's Exchange infrastructure for most of its corporate security features, as a BlackBerry smartphone would to BES. And a variety of third-party mobile device management (MDM) offerings from companies like BoxTone and Zenprise are available to add additional iPad/iOS-related security features.

So, to sum that all up, the BlackBerry PlayBook should be a no-brainer for companies that are already on BlackBerry, and deploying the PlayBook shouldn't require any additional IT support, beyond basic instruction, since all PlayBook-related IT policies are pushed through BlackBerry smartphones.

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