Most of the roughly 200 updates due in Apple iOS 6 this fall are consumer-facing, and one in particular is sure to give IT pros who are already overwhelmed with BYOD an even bigger headache.
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While that's great for end users, once the iCloud email, storage and data synchronization subscription service is tied to the majority of iOS apps, the BYOD game will change for IT because "functionality trumps privacy every time," said Michael Oh, founder of Tech Superpowers, a Foxboro, Mass.-based Apple solutions provider.
Currently, it's easy for IT pros to disable employee access to iCloud on an iPad or iPhone through mobile device management software. But, "if Pages or another productivity app and iCloud are tightly integrated, you can't use one without the other," Oh said.
Kevin HartCEO of Tekserve
Now, "imagine if all the apps" are tied to iCloud, including social networks, and "the data is intermingling and leaving the corporate network," Oh said.
Apple typically panders to consumer demands over corporate needs and wants. Even as the company adds better security and management features to iOS, such as sandboxed apps and the Configurator tool, iCloud's evolution is another example of Apple's divide between consumers and business.
"Apple is pretty clear about enterprises not using iCloud -- that it's just for consumers -- but IT better pay attention to their BYOD strategy now," said Kevin Hart, CEO of Tekserve, a New York City-based Apple solutions provider.
How iCloud could impact BYOD
In iOS, users have the choice of whether they want to save data locally or to an existing cloud storage service like Dropbox or iCloud. The choice of where to save might always exist, but Oh envisions Apple slowly training users to save data to iCloud as their default behavior or that iOS will evolve to where "syncing data to iCloud is the easiest user experience."
With as many problems as iCloud could cause organizations, the potential productivity benefits gained by employees' means that once iOS 6 is available, the storage service will be used more often, industry experts believe.
One example is a CEO who works on confidential documents and uses Safari to double-check information. With iCloud and the new tab-syncing feature of Safari, he can leave the office and immediately resume working on the document once he pops open his iPad on the train, Hart said.
The end users will love "being able to pick up right where they left off," Hart said, but that document is immediately available beyond the corporate network and outside the control of IT.
The iCloud SDK has a "really interesting implication" for enterprises, Oh said, because of the sheer number of iOS users within enterprise BYOD programs.
"Someone is going to whisk in on the enterprise side and provide some experience leveraging iCloud," Oh said. "Apple won't do that, but it's probably a good business to get into."
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