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Making iPads Enterprise Ready

By Agam Shah, CIO
October 04, 2011 04:09 PM ET

CIO - Apple has unwittingly become an enterprise player, says Edward ­Marczak, author and executive editor of MacTech magazine. The company is leading the trend toward IT consumerization as users become attached to their iPads and iPhones and IT administrators try to incorporate the devices into existing corporate technology infrastructures.

“The iPhone was a huge factor in legitimizing Apple in the enterprise,” Marczak says. Now the iPad is popular among business executives for accessing email, calendars, the Web and corporate documents. SAP has given employees, including salespeople, 8,900 iPads to use for accessing sales data and analysis reports. United Airlines is deploying 11,000 iPads to replace paper flight manuals and navigational charts.

Apple offers minimal support for integrating its devices with common enterprise applications, instead concentrating on the consumer market. Analysts say that isn’t likely to change under new CEO Tim Cook.

The Pitch

Apple has unwittingly become an enterprise player, says Edward ­Marczak, author and executive editor of MacTech magazine. The company is leading the trend toward IT consumerization as users become attached to their iPads and iPhones and IT administrators try to incorporate the devices into existing corporate technology infrastructures.

“The iPhone was a huge factor in legitimizing Apple in the enterprise,” Marczak says. Now the iPad is popular among business executives for accessing email, calendars, the Web and corporate documents. SAP has given employees, including salespeople, 8,900 iPads to use for accessing sales data and analysis reports. United Airlines is deploying 11,000 iPads to replace paper flight manuals and navigational charts.

Apple offers minimal support for integrating its devices with common enterprise applications, instead concentrating on the consumer market. Analysts say that isn’t likely to change under new CEO Tim Cook.

The Catch

The iPad is not ready for widespread enterprise use, many CIOs say. At financial trading company Group One, a few employees bring their own iPads in for personal use, but the device is not used in core operations, says Terence Judkins, managing director of systems at the company.

“We have no plans to bring them into the infrastructure, mainly because accessibility isn’t a goal, raw compute power is. During the trading day, people are usually sitting in front of multiscreen setups connected back to our servers,” Judkins says.

Nonprofit company Trans World Radio uses 10 iPads and several Motorola Xoom Android tablets, but can’t quantify enough productivity savings to justify a mass tablet deployment, says CIO Steve Shantz. “I think there are a few situations where we could pilot iPads as the only issued computer, but we are not ready for that on a large scale.” Shantz says.

Customizing applications for specific IT infrastructures is challenging because of Apple’s tight control over iPad apps—any apps a company develops have to be vetted by Apple before being deployed. Meanwhile, the iPad has only limited interoperability with Windows and Linux environments; integrating the devices with corporate systems can add to the tablet’s ownership cost, says Ezra Gottheil, analyst at Technology Business Research.

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