Sybase iAnywhere update pushes iPhone enterprise adoption

The latest version of Sybase iAnywhere Mobile Office include security and usability enhancements the Dublin, Calif.-based company is hoping will help push adoption of the iPhone as an enterprise device.

The enterprise software and services company is taking a different route with its enterprise sandbox model to tackle the security and management challenges the iPhone typically presents to mobile technology vendors, said Senthil Krishnapillai, director of product management. Unlike with Windows Mobile and Symbian, Krishnapillai explained that it’s trickier to provide a common secure infrastructure for the iPhone wherein tasks like data encryption can be ensured.

But he explained that, in the sandbox, users now have support for “a rich set of applications” starting with e-mail, calendaring, tasks, and contacts. And, enterprises can now password protect those applications and encrypt data stored in the sandbox.

“You can think of it as an enterprise space inside the iPhone without having to disperse all the data across the iPhone,” he said.

iAnywhere Mobile Office, part of the company’s Information Anywhere Suite, extends e-mail and business processes to wireless devices.

The fact that the iPhone is such a personal device, said Krishnapillai, means that the traditional approach of enforcing enterprise policies across devices may infringe on usage habits around applications like iTunes and videos, or for activities like jogging. “It’s going to be a hassle,” he said, “to punch in a seven-digit password every time especially if you’re trying to get to another playlist.”

Krishnapillai said he feels very strongly that these new capabilities will extend IT departments more confidence when rolling out the iPhone as a supported enterprise device. The company, he said, receives requests from customers interested in support the iPhone in the business much like they’ve been able to do with other hardware.

While Krishnapillai acknowledged Apple Inc. has some ways to go to make the iPhone fully enterprise-ready, he does recall a decade ago when the Blackberry faced an uphill battle in the business realm with IT being reluctant to support the device. The iPhone, too, will have its turn, he believes, especially given the mounting interest among users.

Besides enhancements for iPhone support, the new version of iAnywhere Mobile Office has features designed to drive devices in general. For instance, administrative controls to manage the data cost of roaming to other networks, and support of remote consoles and Web services for task automation. In tough economic times, said Krishnapillai, such enhancements that reduce the total cost of ownership will be useful to IT departments faced with tightened budgets.

Moreover, he added mobile applications are not cost areas that are getting slashed this year because mobility reaps increased worker productivity.

While there is a market for mobile device management in the enterprise given the growing complexity of overseeing device usage and the applications that run on them, in the short term, the economic crisis is actually making IT managers scrutinize IT purchases, thinks Kevin Restivo, senior analyst with the mobility and consumer group at Toronto-based IDC Canada Ltd.

“If there isn’t a proliferation of devices in the enterprise to be managed, then there isn’t necessarily a need for such a software package,” said Restivo, referring in general to vendor offerings of this sort.

Even right now, Restivo said enterprises have primarily deployed smart phones with just a single application like corporate e-mail, despite the myriad applications that exist like mobile CRM or ERP.

That said, the use of mobile devices in the enterprise will, without a doubt, get more complex, said Restivo, and “the trajectory for software packages like [that of] iAnywhere is definitely on the upswing.”

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