With an estimated 700,000 Apple iPhones sold on its first weekend of availability, Americans obviously adore the expensive combination phone, media player and Internet client.
At $500 a pop, knowledge workers will be loathe to leave them behind, and will thus be bringing them into the enterprise.
But can the iPhone actually work in the enterprise without significant business application support? The answer is yes, if Synchronica PLC has anything to do with it.
The U.K.-based company is introducing its Mobile Gateway 3.0, which supports over-the-air synchronization between Microsoft Exchange and the iPhone.
Synchronica, an international provider of mobile synchronization and device management solutions, claims that its Mobile Gateway 3 will enable companies and service providers to offer mobile synchronization to business users. This in turn will enable users to receive corporate e-mail on their iPhones without requiring corporate IT managers to open up the firewall or install additional server-side software.
The company states that does this without requiring enterprises to expose IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) and SMTP (Simple Mail Transport Protocol) in their Exchange servers or install additional connectors. Instead, Mobile Gateway uses Microsofts secure OWA (Outlook Web Access) to retrieve email from the corporate Exchange server.
Mobile Gateway 3.0 then delivers e-mail directly to the iPhones built-in e-mail client, allowing users to benefit from the outstanding user experience of the iPhone and its tight integration with the phones address book.
Microsoft, for its part, has also been working on making Exchange more iPhone-friendly. In Exchange Server 2007 Rollup 3, Microsoft claims to have fixed many IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) clients problems. Both Macs and iPhones use the Mac Mail client. It, in turn, uses IMAP to work with Exchange.
Synchronicas Mobile Gateway 3.0 middleware, already supports synchronization with a wide range of smartphones and mass-market feature phones from Nokia, Sony Ericsson, and other manufacturers.
In a statement, Carsten Brinkschulte, Synchronicas CEO said, “The iPhone is a very attractive smartphone, appealing to both the consumer and prosumer market. However, IT Managers are not going to permit their executives to synchronize a device that requires them to punch holes in the corporate firewall.
“Mobile Gateway already supports synchronization with Microsoft Exchange, but does not require firewall modification or any software to be installed in the corporate network, so this wont be an issue,” Brinkschulte continued. “From a carriers perspective, we are significantly expanding the reach of the iPhone into the business user and prosumer segments.”
Synchronicas Mobile Gateway also already provides back-end support for POP3 and IMAP, connecting to popular mail services such as AOL or Yahoo. For business users, it provides a zero footprint architecture where users simply register their devices with Mobile Gateway to start receiving push email on their devices. Mobile Gateway includes built-in support for Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Notes, and Sun JES.
Synchronica is not the only company working to integrate the iPhone into the corporate communication system. Azaleos, an Exchange managed service company, will soon be releasing the next version of MobileXchange. This package is designed to help IT departments with provisioning, securing, monitoring and managing 7×24 access to e-mail and other critical business applications to any mobile device including everyones favorite new tech toy, the iPhone.