iOS 7: why Apple's new mobile OS is no-brainer for the enterprise market

Whether the enterprise market is a fan of neon colours or not, it will more than likely appreciate the features Apple is rolling out in iOS 7.

According to Good Technology, over 89 per cent of tablets used in businesses are iPads. With iOS 7, Apple is introducing a raft of features that will not only help to push integration further within large organisations but also help IT departments manage iOS devices effectively.

With the rise of BYOD, employees are increasingly using apps at work that they also use at home and as part of their wider day-to-day life. Whilst bring your own app (BYOA) is helping to drive productivity, it is inadvertently putting corporate data at potential risk.

'Open in' management appears to be a way of fixing this headache by giving IT the ability to pre-select which apps employees can use to open or share files with. Not only will it protect corporate data, but also ensure that personal documents don't end up on business managed apps, such as GoodReader.

Many of the business features being introduced in iOS 7 appear to focus on protecting corporate data; not least, the automation of third-party app data protection. This means that IT departments don't have to worry as much if devices fall into the wrong hands. If employees are using third-party apps, the data will be encrypted and as secure as possible. This will also be helped by the much needed updates to what happens should a device be lost or stolen. By requiring a full Apple ID login with password to unlock a device, both personal and corporate data will be left in a more secure place.

A further feature aimed at protecting corporate data is per app virtual private network (VPN). By letting IT departments ensure that any enterprise apps transmit data via VPN, Apple is adding yet more layers of protection. In discussions with CIOs in the enterprise market, this is often one of the top requirements they have. By making it a central part of iOS 7, many concerns about security have been addressed.

From a management perspective, new features around app distribution, setting up and managing devices have been improved. Whilst it will be likely that companies who support multiple operating systems will need to use third-party MDM solutions such as MobileIron or AirWatch, Apple looks to be significantly improving the way IT departments handle large deployments of iOS.

While all of this is positive, there still remain some challenges. For devices managed by the enterprise, there could be a delay in when IT approves the upgrade to iOS 7. The enterprise market is notoriously slow at upgrading software until it is able to test it fully. With the new features, designed specifically for helping IT have more control, the hope is that upgrading to iOS 7 will be a no-brainer.

Ben Reed (@darkbreed) is head of technology at mobile enterprise app development specialist Mubaloo.

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