16 Sep iOS 7, iPhone 5C, iPhone 5S And The Enterprise: What You Need To Know
Now that the iPhone 5S and the iPhone 5C have been unveiled to the world, and the release of iOS 7 is nearly upon us, businesses and their IT departments have a lot to prepare for.
Undoubtedly, once the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C hit the shelves, companies with BYOD policies will see some fresh faces on their list of mobile devices to support. For those that provide their staff with devices, no doubt you’ll receive requests to add both the iPhone 5S and the iPhone 5C as choices for staff.
What iOS 7 And The New iPhones Offer The Enterprise
Despite the 64-bit processor of the iPhone 5S or the cheaper price tag of the iPhone 5C, the biggest benefits for businesses will come from the new features brought to Apple’s mobile operating system by iOS7. Nevertheless, to help you get ahead of the curve, we’ve outlined out how businesses may be impacted by the new iPhones and iOS7 below.
iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C
While Apple’s new flagship smartphone, the iPhone 5S, doesn’t bring a whole new device to the table as such, it does offer quite a few upgrades to both hardware and software that many enterprise workers will love.
Possibly the best feature of the iPhone 5S is the 64-bit A7 processor, which as Apple have stated can make apps run up to 5 times faster. For the enterprise worker, this has the potential to increase productivity by significantly boosting the processing power of the phone, in turn improving the performance of business apps.
The fingerprint sensor on the iPhone 5S (a.k.a Touch ID), simplifies the phone unlock process regardless of whether the device is personally or corporate owned. As stated by Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney, “the fingerprint reader means that the user doesn’t have to constantly type in passcodes”, which ultimately means more devices will have some sort of security measure. Indeed, the Touch ID brings two-factor authentication to the iPhone to improve device security, reducing the chance of sensitive corporate data leaking from lost or stolen phones. The fingerprint data itself is stored in a secure section of the A7 processor instead of being stored in Apple’s sever or in iCloud, which means accessing the fingerprint data will be difficult.
However, the reduced price of the iPhone 5C (which is essentially an iPhone 5 with a colourful hard coated polycarbonate case and a few minor upgrades), may appeal to younger employees of large companies with BYOD policies. The iPhone 5C will be particularly attractive to those who have not had an iPhone before, particularly with news that Apple have discontinued the iPhone 5 and iPhone 4.
For businesses, the iPhone 5C could be a great way to introduce a fleet of iPhones into the company, without needing to pay the premium price associated with the iPhone 5S. While the iPhone 5C does not come with the fingerprint sensor, it does come will a fully functional version of iOS 7, which as we will outline in a moment, has quite a few fantastic features for administrators to make managing mobiles easier.
According to Apple, iOS 7 offers around 200 new features, with a significant portion of those features geared towards making it easier for IT to support iOS devices. Indeed, Dulaney noted in a recent report that “iOS 7 will have a high impact for enterprise IT leaders in terms of security and management”.
Among the sizeable list of features in iOS7, the biggest benefit for enterprise IT and end users regarding iOS7 is the connections to Mobile Device Management platforms used by IT to manage existing mobiles.
The new MDM protocol in iOS 7 includes several commands, queries, and configuration options that make third-party MDM solutions even more powerful. With iOS 7, MDM IT administrators can set up managed apps, install custom fonts, configure accessibility options and AirPrint printers, and whitelist AirPlay destinations over the air. Apple has also added streamlined MDM enrollment, improved App Store license management, third-party app data protection, improved mail and support for Caching Server 2 into iOS 7, making it the most manageable and secure mobile OS on the planet.
We’ve outlined some of these features in more detail below:
- The SSO feature in iOS7 will help IT enforce security without making it too hard for users to comply. By allowing a user to access multiple business applications in a smartphone using their credentials, it does away with the need for the user to retype passwords over and over again, secure behaviour is encouraged. The business applications permitted to use single sign on is determined by IT using their MDM solution, and each app configured with SSO verifies user permissions for enterprise resources, thereby granting authorised access accordingly.
App Store Access
- While user’s still need to access Apple’s App Store to use the phone, the concern many businesses have is users unintentionally downloading malware in untested apps. To help ensure employees have easy access to enterprise approved applications, companies can set up an enterprise application store by using the Apple Volume Purchase Program. iOS 7 introduces the App Store VPP, providing businesses with the opportunity to assign apps to Apple devices while keeping control and ownership over the licenses. IT can purchase app licenses from Apple and use a MDM solution to assign apps to employees over the air. App licenses can also be revoked and reassigned to other employees.
App Data Protection
- To ensure that corporate data is secured without needing to do any additional configuration, iOS 7 uses methods to leverage the user’s passcode to create a strong and unique encryption key for all third-party apps. This means that information stored in App Store apps is protected with the user’s passcode until they unlock their device after each reboot.
- iOS 7 apps can be configured to automatically connect to VPN when launched, which gives admins granular control over access to corporate networks. This is provisioned through the MDM solution, by allowing admins to designate a set of applications for use of the VPN. Managed app configuration helps deploy and manage iPhones and iPads more efficiently, as it ensures that data transmitted by managed apps travels through VPN and other data (e.g. personal web browsing), is routed over the wireless carrier’s network.
- A new feature revealed on Tuesday, iBeacons is Apple’s answer to NFC (near field communications). iOS 7 supports the placement of low-cost Bluetooth Low Energy emitter devices in locations that can connect via Bluetooth 4.0 to iOS 7 devices. Essentially, this means that a MDM console can not only gain access to more precise location information for users, but also contextual information to help determine if a device is being used in an insecure manner. For example, a user with an iPhone passing a Bluetooth emitter in an unauthorised area could trigger an alarm or alternatively open doors or turn on lights by coming within about 25 feet of the sensors.
- The activation lock feature strengthens security particularly when a device is lost or stolen. The device cannot be reactivated without the owner’s iCloud username and password, which makes it much harder for thieves to start using the device after wiping it. Similarly, when the device has been wiped remotely using the Find My iPhone service, re-activation requires the same iCloud account credentials.
Mass Device Enrollment
- One feature IT departments will particularly love, is the mass device enrollment feature in iOS 7. iOS 7 is expected to permit enterprises to set up and “enroll” multiple corporate- owned devices at one time, which significantly reduces the time-consuming enrollment process.
“Open in…” Management
- To ensure that corporate communications are only being opened in managed apps and personal communications are kept out, iOS 7 allows businesses to protect corporate data by controlling which apps (and accounts) are used to open documents and attachments.
Is Your Business Ready For iOS7?
Now that you have an idea of the benefits iOS 7 can bring to your mobile management efforts in the enterprise, is your business ready to fully utilise these new features?
Don’t feel too bad if you haven’t primed your enterprise apps for iOS7, as a survey done by Cortado suggests a good portion of companies with enterprise iOS apps have not prepared for iOS7. In fact, 42.5% of the IT Directors and administrators surveyed stated that they don’t know what impact iOS 7 will have on the enterprise.
How Should You Prepare?
For companies planning on supporting devices with iOS7 (which will be every model from iPhone 4 and later and iPad 2 and later), IT will need to evaluate how they can make full use of the enterprise security enhancements coming in iOS7.
For example, which managed apps do you want to connect via VPN? How do you plan on using SSO? Do you have a MDM solution in place to take advantage of the new features?
While MDM vendors are working quickly to support iOS 7 by the time of its launch September 18, it is currently unclear how many of the new iOS 7 features will make it into MDM suites. It is also unknown how iOS 7 will affect overall device manageability in a corporate setting.
Particularly if your business provides devices for your staff, you will need to think about how to migrate existing devices onto iOS7. It’s important to analyze the inventory of devices and decide the upgrade plan for new devices and encourage automatic upgrade for eligible devices and migrate users with older devices. Factored in to this, is of course, the internal LAN and external WAN network bandwidth required to handle the OS upgrades since most devices will use Wi-Fi to upgrade to the new iOS.
Users may also need some training to understand the new look and feel of iOS 7. Ensure your helpdesk is trained and ready to reduce user shock of the completely revamped OS and plan the upgrade rollout.
The other consideration IT must take into account, is the inclusion of AirDrop into iOS 7. AirDrop is a form of peer-to-peer file sharing, which uses Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for quick data sharing between two iPhone users. Dulaney states that most enterprises will most likely want to disable this features, as despite the efforts of Apple to add security to AirDrop, enterprises should still worry about loss of data over Wi-Fi connections.
What are your thoughts on the enterprise features of iOS7? Tell us in the comments below!