Technology execs are toting iPads and trying to figure out how to deploy them en masse, but there are significant issues to ponder.
In various talks Monday Gartner analysts highlighted a series of gotchas that need to be considered before jumping on the enterprise tablet bandwagon. Among the key issues:
Apple iPads and tablets may require a Microsoft license. Even user-owned devices may require a license for things like accessing Microsoft servers and running Office and Outlook. How does Microsoft play a role in iPad licensing costs? There are two licenses to server access---Direct Client Access Licenses and User Client Access Licenses. If you're license is device based iPads will acquire new licenses. User owned iPads may have roaming rights under software assurance or virtual desktop access programs, but there are multiple licensing items to ponder.
Securing iPads and tablets may require new skills. Some tips include wiping a device after 10 unsuccessful password tries, making sure enterprise applications are Web and server based and require employee owned devices that access sensitive data be managed by the company.
Formatting. The data from a Windows program to an iPad converts well, but the formatting is off. Companies need to review all corporate document and slide deck templates to address fidelity issues between platforms. These templates are critical given that corporate docs and slides are often branding devices in the field.
Companies need to come up with consumption policies and new ways to present information. Data and content will need to be presented to various tablet-toting groups differently. For instance, sales people may want information delivered one way, but the board wants something different. Field support workers will need data delivered in another format on the tablet. To reach those groups, companies will have to become more about multimedia information production.
Hosted virtual desktops don't solve everything. You may think that hosted virtual desktops and bringing legacy apps to a tablet is a good move. However, screen size is an issue and apps designed for the mouse and keyboard are clumsy in a touch interface. Gartner's upshot: Moving iPad users to Citrix or VMware solves security and manageability problems, but introduces other problems.
Apple isn't an enterprise player. Forget about global contracts, nice discounts and group accounts. Individual iTunes accounts can be a tracking disaster at a large company.