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How the iPad fits into IT

Submitted by on Friday, 19 February 2010No Comment

Macworld – A lot of bits have given their life in the last few weeks so that writers can fill your computer screen with lots of words about the iPad’s role in IT. The iPad will either grind your network to a halt, kill productivity, and drive us all to live in caves poking at the dirt with sticks should someone be foolish enough to let one into the enterprise, or it will usher in a new age of flying cars, zeppelin houses, and pill food as part of our inevitable evolution into pure energy.

I’m exaggerating, but only by a little. So as an IT Director in a company where we support iPhones, iPod touches, a few Windows Mobile phones, and other assorted smartphones, and knowing how similar the iPad is to the iPhone and iPod touch, I’d like to inject a bit of sobriety into the packet war being conducted over Apple’s forthcoming tablet.

Here’s a few questions bouncing around the IT world about the iPad, followed by my best attempt to answer them.

Will the iPad support Exchange?

That was certainly the first thing I asked when I spoke with my sources at Apple: Will the iPad have the same support for Exchange, VPNs, remote wipe, and so forth that the iPhone enjoys. The answer from my man in Cupertino? “Yes, as per the iPhone” was the reply. This should surprise no one, as there was no logical reason whatsoever for Apple to cripple those features in the iPad and the iPad alone when it shares the OS with Apple’s other mobile handhelds.

So, we can expect to find the following in the iPad:

  • Exchange ActiveSync support, including remote wipe
  • The same level of VPN support as the iPhone
  • The “Find my iPhone” feature
  • The same support for policy configurations as the iPhone

My Apple source wasn’t sure if the iPad has the same encryption support found in the iPhone 3GS, although it seems likely, as the hardware should be able to handle it. Assuming that guess is right, the iPad will be at least as compatible with a corporate network as an iPhone. It will not, as some of the more breathless screeds have intimated, be an unmanageable, uncontrollable blight.

I also e-mailed Microsoft’s Mac Business Unit about the iPad, asking about its plans for the iPad. The response: “We haven’t yet seen the iPad and don’t have anything more to share at this time. The MacBU’s mission remains the same, to deliver Microsoft productivity to Mac users.”

That seems clear to me: “We don’t know yet, we haven’t even seen the bloody thing.” I figure it will take Microsoft’s Mac team a few months to come up with something more, and it’s not like they aren’t just a little busy right now.

 How the iPad fits into IT

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