In this week's cover story, P. J. Connolly examines the way that the popularity and staying power of Apple's iOS platform is forcing IT organizations and vendors alike to adjust their mobile device management game plans.
For both groups, the changes brought about by Apple's mobile ascendancy have amounted to a mixed bag. There's no doubt that the emergence of the iPhone in 2007 started us on a course toward mobile devices with much more potential for business value.
However, for enterprises, Apple's consumer bent has exacerbated the issues that IT departments face as they work to keep users happy and productive, while maintaining appropriate controls around company data and processes.
And for vendors, Apple's tendency to keep its road maps close to the vest, and to govern the application channels for its devices even more closely, represents a similar loss of control. Of course, a smaller or less secure piece of a much larger mobile pie shouldn't be too much cause for complaint-particularly since the advances that Apple has introduced are taking root in competing platforms, such as those from Google, Microsoft and HP.
The situation we're seeing with the vendors that participate in the iOS ecosystem calls to mind the pair of cloud hosting products I reviewed in this week's issue. Bitrock's BitNami Cloud Hosting has hitched its wagon to Amazon Web Services, putting what I might have once described as a "friendlier face" on Amazon's hosting services.
I didn't describe the BitNami service in that way because Amazon's services have grown so quickly in polish and functionality over the past several months that this once-apt description just doesn't fit anymore-and the cohort of vendors focused on adding X to AWS had better take notice.
Between the time I finished my BitNami review and started writing this column, Amazon's new Cloud Formation offering emerged to provide a piece of the AWS service bundling that had stood out for me as a differentiator for BitNami.
Bitrock's strategy moving forward involves integrating support for Amazon's advances as they come. For example, the company was quick to embrace Cloud Formation. Crucially, however, BitNami is also working on hedging its bets with support for multiple cloud services, such as Microsoft's Azure. That seems like a solid way to partake in the Amazon ecosystem without ending up trampled as Amazon charges forward.
The other cloud hosting service I reviewed this week, Enomaly's SpotCloud, takes another tack. Through an intriguing marketplace for buyers and sellers of excess cloud capacity, Enomaly targets a very different slice of the cloud hosting spectrum than what Amazon inhabits.
Here again, between the time I finished that review and began this column, Amazon made me rethink one of the chief SpotCloud advantages I cited in my review-the globally farther-flung nature of its provider network-with the announcement of a new AWS data center location in Tokyo.
If there's a moral here, I suppose it's that, for IT departments and vendors alike, riding the technology waves made by hard-charging industry players can be thrilling and lucrative, but stay wary of wiping out.