Last week, Apple released a significant new version of the iOS operating system. The first area of focus for observers was what new features iOS 7 offered and how they affected the basic operation of devices. The second item for consideration in such circumstances is the impact on the enterprise and on business users.
At this point, it seems that the impact will be significant. ARN reports on comments by Good Technology that suggest Apple has recognized and taken ownership of the reality that its devices are used in enterprise settings. The executive – Gavin Jones, the general manager and vice president of sales for Australia and New Zealand – essentially said that Apple is playing catch up with the Android OS on management and security features.
The positive buzz around iOS 7 appears almost universal. Datamation outlines the range of MDM companies’ reactions to the new OS. It is all good: John Marshall, the CEO of Air Watch, is quoted as saying that iOS 7 is "the most significant update we’ve seen from Apple throughout the evolution of iOS in the enterprise." The story cites MobileIron’s assessment that iOS 7 offers more than 200 new features split between business and consumers and more than 40 aimed specifically at enterprise mobility management.
Others note that implementing iOS 7 in the enterprise should be done carefully. TechRepublic’s Will Kelly offers a piece in which he lists seven steps to implementing iOS 7 in the enterprise, courtesy of Absolute Software Director of Product Management Tim Williams. Among them are the need to use Apple IDs for BYOD, to be familiar with third-party iOS apps, to test and retest, and to decide between BYOD and corporate-owned personally enabled (COPE) devices.
It seems that iOS 7 is a step toward confronting the BYOD challenge, which seemed daunting when it first became apparent. CIO.com features an interview with Blake Brannon, the senior product engineer at AirWatch. One thing is clear: He likes the product. For instance, his response to the question of which features he likes best focuses on Per-app-VPN and Open in management. He elaborates:
It provides the industry with a new way of thinking about containerization and separation of work and personal data. In the past 12 months, the industry has been shifting towards containerization. But iOS 7 is a different perspective that gives what the enterprise wants, in terms of protection of data, and what the employee wants, which is the native experience.
The interview goes along in this vein. In June, CITEWorld’s Ryan Faas provided a far more specific list of the business features expected in iOS 7. If all or most of the 18 elements Faas mentioned actually made it into the release, enterprises should be satisfied.