IT preps for iPhone 6, iOS 8 in the enterprise

IT must be ready for the influx of Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus devices and perhaps more importantly, iOS 8, when they arrive later this month. Here’s why.

While Apple didn't zero in on the enterprise while unveiling the iPhone 6, there is plenty for IT to prepare before the devices and its iOS 8 operating system infiltrate their networks.

Apple's iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will ship in two weeks, both with much larger screens than the current iterations at 4.7 and 5.5 inches across, respectively. The phones represent Apple's anticipated jump into the ever-growing phablet market.

Apple's new iPhones are truly mobile computing devices that should see prolific adoption across all enterprises because of their screen size, said Bob O'Donnell, founder and chief analyst for TECHnalysis Research in Foster City, Calif.

"[The larger screen] is as, if not more, relevant to the enterprise as it is to consumers," O'Donnell said. "There's a pent-up demand for larger phones."

Apple didn't specify what aspects of the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch (which was also introduced this week) will benefit the enterprise, said Brian Katz, head of mobile innovation for a large pharmaceutical company in New Jersey.

Some features that could impact the enterprise include an improved camera, opportunities to use the phones or the watch as ID cards to access facilities and the addition of APIs for two-factor authentication for applications through Touch ID.

Biggest IT hurdle may be iOS 8

For IT shops that support bring your own device, administrators can likely expect new iPhones in the workplace immediately. The challenge for IT isn't necessarily the handling of new Apple devices once the phones ship September 19th, but instead two days before, when the new iOS 8 operating system is live, Katz said.

"You need to make sure your stuff works," Katz said. "If, as an enterprise, you haven't been using the beta to test your apps, you could be in serious trouble."

For example, Apple has made changes to its handling of Exchange ActiveSync (EAS), so if a company has an email proxy or email gateway for EAS, it could face problems with email on iOS 8 devices without proper testing.

Enterprise mobility management (EMM) vendors are working hard to be ready for the arrival of iOS 8, but none will be 100% ready when iOS 8 is live, according to Katz.

"There may be 5% they still have to shape up, but that's not a bad thing," he said.

AirWatch is one EMM company that has already said it will offer same-day support for iOS 8.

The more Apple innovates and the more interest there is from a consumer standpoint in its products, the easier it is  for IT managers in some respects, according to Michael Oh, founder of Tech Superpowers, an Apple reseller and managed IT services provider in Boston.

There are only a few versions of iOS out there to be supported as opposed to the many fragmented versions of Android that exist, Oh said.

"[Apple] is very good about getting the user base up to the next rev, and that makes an IT manager's life a lot easier," he added.

The 'bigger' opportunity, challenge for enterprise

The bigger form factor for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus could also present a challenge for enterprise applications that may not scale well. Apple added development capabilities in iOS 8 that should help automatically adjust the scale of those apps, Katz said.

"You're going to start seeing a lot of improvements in usability to handle the larger phones in the next couple months for a lot of companies that have enterprise apps," Katz said.

Having more screen-size to work with should aid in the creation of more sophisticated, customized enterprise applications, O'Donnell said.

"Having that ability to run an almost desktop-like app because you’ve got screen resolution and real estate to be able to do that is going to be a big deal for a lot of people," he added.

Apple didn't provide any updates about its partnership with IBM on new enterprise applications for iOS 8 devices. The applications are expected this fall.

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will each be available with 16 GB, 64 GB or 128 GB of memory. Those three versions are $199, $299 and $399 for the iPhone 6 and $299, $399 and $499 for the iPhone 6 Plus, respectively. The AppleWatch is expected early next year, starting at $349.

Jake O'Donnell is a news writer for SearchConsumerization. Write to him at jodonnell@techtarget.com and follow him on Twitter @JakeODonnell_TT.

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