by Al Sacco

Apple iTunes on Enterprise Computers: Problem or Non-Issue?

Jun 25, 20073 mins
Enterprise Applications

Apple’s iTunes is by far one of the most popular and widely-used consumer IT applications available today. It’s likely more of your users have an iPod and employ iTunes than staffers that don’t, especially if they’re at all tech-savvy. And many of those folks have probably installed the program on their corporate computers—unless, of course, there are measures in place to stop them from doing so.

I’ve got iTunes on my work PC, and I use it everyday—ahem, for work purposes, of course. As you may have guessed, I’m a writer. And when I’m buckling down to scribble out my next product review or blog entry, I plug in my earbuds and unplug from the cacophony of office clatter around me. I really do use iTunes to get work done. (Though I must admit there are a few episodes of Lost on my hard drive, as well.)

Last week, a staffer from my IT department sent out an e-mail to the company, reminding us that our corporate PCs are business tools owned by the enterprise and that they should be used as such. Personal files like photos or music—no, iTunes wasn’t fingered specifically, but we all got the point—should be kept on our personal PCs, and not on our work machines. 

I understand why our IT department doesn’t want iTunes installed on all their computers. I know that iTunes itself is a memory hog, music files are large, and collections of iTunes songs or video clips can be enormous. The performance of enterprise computers is affected by iTunes, and it can then be assumed that performance of the iTunes-using employee is also affected. There are also a number of potential copyright issues smart CIOs need to consider.

Many organizations ban iTunes outright. Marriot for instance doesn’t allow iTunes registration on its corporate machines by users, according to a Computerworld news story from last week. But is that the route to take?

My colleague Ben Worthen recently wrote a piece on why such an approach is the wrong way to handle consumer IT applications like iTunes, and I tend to agree. In light of the upcoming release of Apple’s iPhone, I thought now would be a good time to hear what you, the CIO, have to say. No doubt, you’ve considered the issue before. And if you haven’t, you’d better. Apple recently announced that anyone who wants to use the much-anticipated—and in my opinion, over-hyped—iPhone will need to create a separate iTunes account on top of another with AT&T, which has an exclusive agreement with Apple to distribute the device. That means more iTunes accounts on your machines.

Is iTunes a threat to corporate IT departments? Should it be banned outright, or should there be IT policies specific to the application? Users might like it if you ignored their iTunes use at work or while employing corporate machines outside business hours, but is this an acceptable approach from an IT manager’s standpoint?

I’d hate to have an IT staffer appear beside my desk one day and demand that I dump my iTunes files, but I’m not naïve enough to think it couldn’t happen.

If it were up to you—and for some of you out there, it is—would you allow iTunes use on your corporate PCs? If so, should it be regulated somehow? I’m all ears…