iPad: the next enterprise client?

Enthusiast users and media are crazy for the “magical and revolutionary device” and the gloating Apple declared 2 Millions iPads sold in two months! That’s an incredible number leaving the (future and desperate) competitors still at the starting blocks.

The interest is very high in these days: bloggers, analysts and journalists are writing tons of articles on it and some new questions and thoughts are coming. One of them regards the capability of the iPad to be used as a client in an enterprise environment.
Well, it’s not ready for the prime time yet and Apple doesn’t have an official (and real) enterprise strategy for iP* products at the moment but if it is true that AT&T sells 40% of iPhones to business people why we can’t do some thoughts about it?

iPad in the enterprise has a lot of advantages from many points of view:

  • First of all it is simple do deploy (just seconds to power it on, activate, configure and go!), and then it’s simple to maintain. It’s the dream for sysadmins and the savings may be very huge.
  • User training is near zero, the learning curve may be vertical!
  • Appealing of the device helps to switch fast!
  • Tons of Apps: there are more than 5000 apps specifically written for the iPad and more than 200K usable apps iPhone apps! and new apps are released every day for every pocket.
  • It’s simple to develop new enterprise custom apps: the MacOS X and Iphone OS development tools/SDKs are free and there is the capability to publish your apps into your enterprise or on the AppStore.
  • No viruses, the very locked app system has its own advantages and permits to have near 100% assurance to avoid viruses in your system/enterprise.
  • Enterprise software vendors are focusing in development of new smart Apps: RDP clients, web conferencing, finance, office apps, reporting, ERP clients, and so on!
  • It’s (very) portable: some companies are migrating a lot of workseats from desktops to Laptops to simplify mobility of people and resources.
  • It’s connected: at home WIFI and on the road 3G!
  • It has some VPN capabilities already built-in.
  • It has a poor local storage: so you need a private or public cloud storage, easy to secure, backup and maintain. Less risky than a laptop (if you lose a modern laptop you can lose up to 500GB of data of your enterprise!)
  • It’s a good thin client: the datacenters infrastructures are going that way and VDI implementation are growing fast, iPad fits perfectly in these environments.
  • It’s cheap: if compared to Laptops and desktop PCs.

Is it perfect? the answer is NO.

iPad is immature at the moment, the display isn’t big (it’s similar to a netbook one), the iPhone OS needs more security and enterprise software features (we will see something with v. 4.0, but not all) and many other constraints limit the use of the device in the enterprise at the moment.

Some enterprises are ready to adopt next generation clients, they already have deployed some flavor of VDI, some of them are experimenting new approaches to sell processes, logistics, and post-sales support where a well connected powerful tablet can make the difference!

Is the born of a true mobile computing, son of the (enabling) cloud computing, around the corner?

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