iOS 6 Offers Improved Mobile Device Management

With Apple’s introduction of the new operating system iOS6 for iPhones and iPads there are now much improved mobile management features available that can assist IT departments who are responsible for managing mobile devices under a mobile device management (MDM) policy or under a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy. MDM and BYOD are an increasing reality for many major organisations as employees seek to gain access to corporate information via their favourite and familiar devices either on the move or at their regular place of work; and as corporations seek to leverage this trend to improve employee productivity and creativity, and to cut IT operating costs.

All of the major MDM vendors are responding to these Apple operating system updates with enhancements to their own software to take advantage of the iOS6 improvementswith additional APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) and better integration. This will open up new opportunities in the MDM space, particularly increasing corporate demand for iPhones and iPads as enterprise level security features are significantly improved. IT departments will be able to better manage Apple devices remotely with improved lock-down facilities, such as date-driven removal of files and profiles, prevention of the installation of unauthorised profiles that are not under their control and the disabling of certain apps and features that might compromise the security of corporate information.

Enterprise interest in Apple devices has been growing for some years and now, with iOS6, IT departments are offered the potential to rapidly (and inexpensively) develop small apps that will allow regular improvements to business processes, with the security features they need for mobile management. In large corporations the requirement to respond quickly to a changing marketplace with modified and improved applications and procedures has often been impossible as large legacy systems developed over many years rarely lend themselves to rapid, or easy modification. Even when the actual change is quick and simple, the process for approving and implementing the change in a large library of software components can cause delays that are often frustrating for the users at the coal face. Whilst quickly developed apps may not be a long term solution they can offer businesses the opportunity to take advantage of a changing marketplace.

New mobile device management features in iOS 6 include:

• Global corporate proxy:All Internet communications go through a single proxy server for enhanced monitoring of activity on the managed device.

• Single-app mode: Restricts an iPaduser to a specific application which is useful where the device is available to customers in a retail location.

• Time-limited profiles:Automatic expiry dates can now be set for profiles, which is useful for granting temporary access.

• iMessage blocking:iOS 6 supports a policy that disables iOS’siMessage texting service for sending messages free of charge, which will allow better regulation of communications from a device.

• Improved profile management:Prevents unauthorised profiles from being uploaded to managed devices.

• Passbook, Game Center, iBookstore, and shared Photo Stream blocking:Removes apps and tools that could compromise security.

• Forced wallpapers: Home screen and lock screen imagescan be preset to a company logo, which is again useful for retail environments.

But another significant change in iOS6 could make the BYOD trend less popular as it gives an organisation more control than before over an employee’s own mobile device. Under the new Supervisor Mode that will give an organisation the security control over a device they need to protect their corporate information, the owner and user of the device will conversely lose some control, particularly with respect to removing Supervisor Mode as this can only be done on the same Mac on which it was activated.

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