Following closely on the heels of Apple Inc.’s update toiOS4 earlier this week, Absolute Software Corp. has launched new software thatlets IT shops manage their fleet of iPad and iPhone devices and the apps thatrun on them.

The Vancouver-based data protection firm, which releasedAbsolute Manage Mobile Device Management for iOS4 on Tuesday, will let ITadministrators wirelessly manage Apple iOS4-based devices over 3G or Wi-Ficonnections. The software will be offered both as a standalone product and aspart of the company’s flagship Absolute Manage suite, which allows IT managersto deploy software, manage licences, install patches, and monitor their mobilefleet of PC and Mac-based computers.

In addition to remote wipe and locking capabilities, ITmanagers can set prerequisites for user passwords, restore original factorysettings, remotely deploy apps, set up a VPN and even disable the device’scamera.

Peter Frankl, vice-president of lifecycle management forAbsolute, said “Absolute Apps” will be the most attractive feature to largeenterprises because it allows IT to deploy apps without releasing them to thepublic.

“A lot of large enterprises, health care and educationalinstitutions create their own apps and don’t want them in the public space ofiTunes,” he said. The feature will basically allow enterprise IT shops to hostand brand their own app stores and distribute their creations wirelessly.

Another key feature, according to Frankl, is the software’sasset inventory manager, which lets IT staff gather close to 70 hardware andsoftware data points, including the device’s serial number, MAC address, applist, and phone numbers. IT administrators can even determine if any of theirdevices have been jailbroken, he added.

Frankl said that up until now, the only way to get inventoryinformation from an iPhone or iPad was to tether it to a computer. “That’s justnot practical for somebody used to a BlackBerry,” he added.

Rounding out the MDM for iOS4 feature list is an end usermessaging feature that allows IT to send customized messages to any iOS4 smartphone or tablet in their fleet. While this functionality has proven to beuseful for recovering lost devices, the feature can also be used to send mass SMSmessages to an IT administrator’s entire Apple environment.

Derek Brink, vice-president and research fellow covering ITsecurity at Aberdeen Group Inc., said its firm’s most recent study shows theiPhone leading all other devices in terms of planned deployments in the next 12months among North American enterprises.

“I would definitely attribute an acceleration in enterprisedemand for Apple-based devices to the availability of the iPad,” he added.

A recent survey of nearly 1,200 North American ITprofessionals by mobile service management vendor BoxTone Inc. found that 73per cent of survey respondents expect to pilot or deploy the Apple iPad, iPhoneor other iOS device within the next year. Another 28 per cent of respondents planfor a pilot or deployment “immediately.”

“There’s a huge spike in iPad interest,” said Brian Reed,chief marketing officer at BoxTone.

– With files from MattHamblen, ComputerWorld U.S.

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