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Planning for and Supporting the iPhone in Business Environments

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There's no dearth of information for end users of the iPhone and all of the new features unveiled for both first-generation iPhones and the iPhone 3G, but what about for those who need to plan how to purchase, deploy, manage, and support the iPhone in business and enterprise environments? Ryan Faas looks at the unique challenges posed by the iPhone for IT professionals, and spells out some of the options for meeting those challenges.
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One major focus of the iPhone 3G and the iPhone 2.0 update for first-generation iPhones was responding to the needs of business and enterprise environments. Although the iPhone was already a hit with consumers, Apple announced a series of business improvements when it refreshed the iPhone, centering around some key areas:

  • Support for Exchange ActiveSync
  • Remote wiping of confidential business data from a lost or stolen phone
  • Support for enterprise-grade authentication technologies for wireless networks
  • Expanded VPN support
  • Digital certificate management
  • Automatic configuration using configuration profiles

While not specific to business environments, opening the platform for application development is also big news for business users—both those who want solid business applications from developers and those companies interested in creating their own in-house applications.

Considering sales, overall positive reviews, and Apple's claim to have solved the major roadblocks to enterprise adoption of the iPhone as a business device, the question at this point isn't whether IT departments will have to support the iPhone, but rather when and how they'll have to do so. The many features that make the iPhone a unique platform for users and developers right now also make it a unique platform to implement and support from a business or IT perspective, whether for a small business with only a handful of employees or a major enterprise. In this article, I'll look at some of the challenges that the iPhone brings and consider the options for handling those issues.

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