IT execs intrigued but skeptical of iPhone corporate support

Apple has 'never shown meaningful interest in the enterprise,' says one executive

Disney's Randy Brooks, senior vice president of IT for strategy and architecture, was quoted in the Apple statement saying that Apple had "really done their homework, addressing issues of security, manageability, and integration." Brooks said Disney has hundreds of iPhone users and expects the demand to "grow significantly with this release."

Two top-level IT managers for a large global financial company and a global consumer goods company said in separate interviews that they were eagerly awaiting today's news, but still needed more details around security to be able to say whether they could endorse using iPhones internally. Both asked to remain anonymous, citing company policies about being quoted in the press.

"I think today's news is positive," one of the executives said, adding that many employees have wanted to use the iPhone. "However, since the first launch, we have wanted a BlackBerry Enterprise Server-like product" to allow the enterprise to manage devices from its own server. Short of that approach, with Exchange, this IT executive said it would be "mandatory" for Apple to release which APIs (application programming interfaces) it can expose so that a third-party security provider could bolster the iPhone.

The executive said Apple was shown what security guarantees were needed under a secrecy agreement, but that Apple refused to honor its end. "We've been talking with Apple for eight months and they haven't shared the information," the executive said. "That's only one-way sharing, and they have to change that mindset if they want to make progress with us and the enterprise. Maybe they will eventually become more corporate focused, but they are definitely NOT enterprise focused now."

The other IT executive said support for Exchange would allow users "to hook into the corporate e-mail system but [it] doesn't address many of the security, privacy and ROI concerns that still revolve around the platform."

That executive said the news was not enough to make the iPhone its corporate standard smart phone device, adding, "possibly the SDK will allow for more robust business applications on the device which could cause us to change our thinking, but I'm not convinced of this yet."

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Matt Hamblen

Computerworld
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