iPad in the Enterprise: IT Must Stay Ahead of the Curve
In a wide-ranging interview, an Apple expert shares real-world experiences about iPads in the enterprise, mobile device management and BYOD. Key takeaways for IT: Don't improvise when it comes to iPad adoption and don't get bypassed by rogue users.
Tue, May 01, 2012
CIO — When the district sales managers of a luxury retailer logged into their corporate email accounts on shiny, new iPads for the first time, at the same time—cheers went up.
But something else went down: the Lotus Notes server.
Imagine all those iPads simultaneously downloading the full dump of Lotus Notes. Don't point the finger at IT for this technical gridlock, not this time. The IT department didn't even know about the iPad rollout until it was too late, and still had to deal with the fallout.
Blame a rogue sales group for all the trouble. The sales group wanted to hand out iPads to district sales managers. So the group contracted Tekserve, a services firm helping Fortune 1000 companies adopt the iPad.
The sales group had one condition: Don't tell the IT department.
"We made it clear that we would much prefer to engage the IT department," recalls Tekserve CTO Aaron Freimark. "We want to support Apple for the IT department."
After all, iPads in the enterprise require some serious IT planning beyond mobile device management (MDM) and iOS app development. Wi-Fi networks need to be shored up to handle the extra load. Passwords need to be collected in advance. Logins need to be spaced out so that systems don't crash. The infrastructure needs to be beefed up.
"With iPhones and iPads, we're still seeing guerilla" tactics by end-user groups, Freimark says. He doesn't know why the sales group wanted to keep high-flying iPads a secret. Maybe IT had already shot down the idea. Many IT departments are infamous for saying no, and so bypassing IT isn't anything new.
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The IT department at the luxury retailer eventually caught wind of the iPad rollout, and responded in kind. "They said, 'You guys are on your own,'" Freimark says. "They didn't have time to evaluate this. They didn't have any resources to support this."
Now the IT department is running behind the iPad, which isn't a good place to be considering that the number of iPads and other mobile devices at a company can spike into the thousands very quickly.
In an interview with CIO.com, Freimark talked about the importance of being out in front of the iPad in the enterprise and also gave his take on the fast-evolving MDM space and the white-hot bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend.
During Apple's latest earnings call, CEO Tim Cook said Apple will be bringing more resources and salespeople to bear on driving iPads deeper into the enterprise. How is your relationship with Apple direct sales?