At $99, Sybase Hopes for More iPhones in the Enterprise

 
 
By Michelle Maisto  |  Posted 2009-06-14
 
 
 

Experts say the Apple iPhone 3G's new $99 price tag will increase the competition between handset makers. Enterprise solutions provider Sybase said the new price is also likely also bring more iPhones into enterprises, as more consumers are moved to buy.

"Executives are using it at home and thinking about how they can adopt this device at work," Senthil Krishnapillai, director of product management for Sybase's mobility group, told eWEEK.

"Now you can have a personal device that can [also have] enterprise applications."

While some argue that the iPhone isn't a "first-class enterprise citizen," in March, Sybase contributed an application to the Apple App Store that it believes makes the iPhone exactly that.

The Sybase iAnywhere Mobile Office application extends wireless email, calendar, contacts and task information securely to the iPhone-as well as to Windows Mobile and Symbian-based devices. Additionally backend agnostic, the software works with IBM Lotus Domino and Microsoft Exchange.

The software's offerings reside in a password-protected area, referred to as an "enterprise sandbox," which means a nefarious thief can't get into emails-and neither can the 2-year-old smudging up the pretty touch screen. The device isn't locked down, but the applications containing data relevant to the enterprise are.

Also on the security front, the software offers on-device encryption and the ability to remotely wipe data from the iPhone.

Krishnapillai says the software offers BlackBerry-style push capabilities that are a boon to email, but that it also simplifies such things as "peer-to-peer communication, near-field communication, dispatching and sending out messages or alerts from the backend."

The complete solution includes the iAnywhere Mobile Office server, which is also available in the App Store, and which IT would need to download in order to support workers' iPhones with the iAnywhere client application downloaded to them. Pricing begins at $200 per user, though Sybase says volume discounts are available.

Reseach firm Gartner has also offered its approval, including iAnywhere Mobile Office in its "Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Wireless E-Mail Software" chart.

"They understand and address enterprise needs particularly in the area of mobile security, management, application integration and business process support," Monica Basso, a Gartner research vice president, told eWEEK.

"Another strong aspect of the iAnywhere products is the device independence, which is part of their overall vision. In fact, beyond iPhone, they committed to supporting new smartphone platforms like Android and the Palm Pre."

Basso agrees that the offering goes beyond email.

"Mobile Office also offers capabilities to automate support for business processes, or mobile business applications, by using email as bearer. This eliminates the need to develop further mobile applications and allows [enterprises] to leverage investments on the wireless email infrastructure to deploy further mobile capabilities on employees' devices."

Which is not to say it's perfect. Gartner has previously also pointed out areas for improvement, such as that Sybase iAnywhere lacks deals with mobile operators and handset manufacturers, aside from HTC; that few organizations deploy iAnwhere Mobile Office alone, but with other elements of the Mobility Suite; and also that Sybase offers a confusing number of product extensions.

Sybase's Krishnapillai  believes Apple has done a great job with backward compatibility, again noting the potential of the $99 iPhone. Though he adds that new features on the iPhone 3G S also offer an improved user experience.

"The Spotlight Search capability is a good feature, and our content is now available for general searching on the device," he says, offering an example.

The backing of a respected enterprise partner such as Sybase is a good thing for Apple, which has looked to make in-roads into the enterprise, as much as Research In Motion has looked to position its BlackBerry to non-enterprise consumers.  

There's more coming down the line, Krishnapillai told eWEEK, "but I'm not at liberty to talk about it yet." 

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