New smartphones and mobile operating systems have drawn another sizable wave of consumers to intelligent smartphones. These platforms provide more productivity potential than ever before, but there are still gaps in the kind of security and management capabilities necessary for enterprise use. eWEEK Labs examines how to make the right choices now to meet future needs.
The release of the Palm WebOS mobile operating system on the new Pre,
along with recent upgrades to both Apple's
iPhone OS and Google's Android
operating system, has drawn another sizable wave of new consumers to
Given the obvious computing potential of these platforms, the rich
application development environments attached to each and their
enterprise-ready features, companies may be ready not only to let users attach
these devices to corporate resources, but to invest in the platforms
But these enterprises must at the same time take a hard look at each of
these platforms to ensure that they not only meet today's mobile computing
needs, but also have the capability (or a clear road map) to interoperate with
other technology initiatives in progress to fulfill the needs of tomorrow, as
The enterprise argument for viability of each of these mobile operating
systems ironically revolves around their adoption of a Microsoft technology, EAS
(Exchange ActiveSync). Baked directly into Palm's WebOS and Apple's iPhone OS-and
added to Android via third-party implementations such as Emtrace's Moxier Mail-EAS
for each of the platforms effectively fills first-generation mobile device gaps
for corporate users-the secure and timely delivery of mail and the two-way synchronization
of calendar and contacts.
Depending on the EAS implementation
within these mobile operating systems, EAS
may also help alleviate next-generation corporate needs by delivering certain
management functions, such as remote wipe or policy delivery and enforcement.
With the newly available iPhone 3.0 software upgrade, Apple at this time is
ahead of both Android and WebOS with its integration into Microsoft's data center
solutions, as the iPhone now can enforce password usage and settings like password
complexity, expirations and history.
But this reliance on EAS won't solve all
the enterprise management needs for these devices, as issues such as firmware
management and encryption enforcement lay outside EAS'
Despite the iPhone's recent gains in enterprise usability with iPhone 3.0,
future firmware updates are still delivered by hooking a device up to a
computer running iTunes. On the other hand, WebOS and Android devices both
receive their updates over the air directly from the operator or hardware
manufacturer-taking upgrades out of the hands of IT administrators
completely. Companies that wish to standardize their mobile fleet on a
specific version to ease ongoing support may find the upgrade process hard to
control. Certainly, these updates could come fast and furious, as Palm has
not been shy about new releases, unleashing three point upgrades in the first
month the platform was shipping on the Pre.
Andrew cut his teeth as a systems administrator at the University of California, learning the ins and outs of server migration, Windows desktop management, Unix and Novell administration. After a tour of duty as a team leader for PC Magazine's Labs, Andrew turned to system integration - providing network, server, and desktop consulting services for small businesses throughout the Bay Area. With eWEEK Labs since 2003, Andrew concentrates on wireless networking technologies while moonlighting with Microsoft Windows, mobile devices and management, and unified communications. He produces product reviews, technology analysis and opinion pieces for eWEEK.com, eWEEK magazine, and the Labs' Release Notes blog. Follow Andrew on Twitter at andrewrgarcia, or reach him by email at email@example.com.