While for many people, iOS 7 is just the newest bells-and-whistles packed version of the operating system that keeps an iPad or an iPhone (News - Alert) merrily humming along, for businesses, it has quite a bit of unexpected potential on hand with regard to its ability to provide a level of mobile device management (MDM) capability. But how can businesses put iOS 7 to work toward keeping a handle on the mobile devices that make a mobile workforce run?
Among the many new additions and features in iOS 7 are a variety of enterprise-grade features that can make businesses even better. Things like file and app protections that restrict access to the management level, applications that launch automatically into a virtual private network (VPN), and improvements to the mail system make iOS 7 a surprisingly powerful alternative for business, and with a new set of MDM configuration and enrollment options, it might lead some think that iOS 7 on its own is enough to keep systems protected.
However, even Apple (News - Alert) notes in its introduction to the new business features of iOS 7 that the MDM improvements “make third-party MDM solutions even more powerful,” meaning not only is there still a place for third-party MDM, those third-party apps are going to be front and center. Additionally, Apple is ramping up its volume purchase plan, which offers more flexibility in being able to transfer apps between users that leave the company and those who want to join in.
MobileIron, for example, is one such platform that's going to get a big boost from the changes in iOS 7. Indeed, since Apple isn't actually providing MDM tools itself, but rather relying on other providers for MDM, what Apple is really doing is making current MDM better. MobileIron is looking to work with that principle, allowing Apple's functions to better integrate with MobileIron's own app store. Apple's MDM APIs are all client-side, requiring corresponding server-side management that third-parties like MobileIron can offer. While MobileIron is operating under a non-disclosure agreement and can thus only say so much about what's in the works, it has revealed that is focusing on some new capabilities that will give users a lot more room to run with in terms of MDM overall.
There's no denying that MDM is going to be the focal point of any mobile workforce operation. Being able to control the flow of information and protect basic systems while still taking advantage of the flexibility and morale improvements provided by operating off campus is simply too great to pass up. The protection that MDM offers helps make this possible, and iOS 7 is clearly out to accommodate the changing structure of business operations that allow the mobile operation to exist. Apple and MDM are getting increasingly close, and using Apple products as the basis for a mobile workforce operation may be the best step of all.
Edited by Blaise McNamee