Trust Digital opens enterprise doors for Apple’s iPhone

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Trust Digital opens enterprise doors for Apple's iPhone

Chicago (IL) – Trust Digital, a provider of enterprise mobility management (EMM) solutions for government organizations and large businesses, may have done more for the iPhone’s adoption in enterprises than Apple’s sub-par iPhone deployment tools have accomplished so far: Trust Digital’s EMM lets companies secure and manage Windows Mobile, Symbian and Palm devices – and the newly added iPhone support marks the first time that a trusted IT infrastructure vendor recognized Apple’s smartphone. This means that businesses do not have to deal separately with Apple hardware and can rely on a single provider to manage and deploy smartphones from different vendors.

When Apple unveiled enterprise-grade iPhone features as part of the iPhone 2.0 firmware this summer, IT managers, analysts and journalists were not entirely convinced that Apple had done enough to make its smartphone enterprise-ready. There is built-in support for Cisco VPN and Microsoft Exchange, but IT Managers repeatedly stated that they need  professional-grade tools for a secure iPhone deployment. Another obstacle is that large businesses expect such a solution from IT infrastructure vendors they have a relationship with in order to avoid dealing separately with Apple just to integrate the iPhone.

Although Apple’s own Web Configuration Utility for Windows and Mac OS and the iPhone Configuration Utility (OS X only) allow companies to create, sign and distribute configuration profiles as XML files that can be emailed or posted to the web, only basic settings can be pre-configured, such as device security policies, certificates, Wi-Fi, VPN and APN settings and Exchange email accounts. More tools are still required, but there is no information if and when Apple will provide them.

This environment has created a possibility for third-party developers to address this problem. When Trust Digital announced that its EMM solution now supports the iPhone, it was the first time a major vendor delivered a software that enables secure and managed iPhone deployment from a central management console. “The iPhone is to the web what BlackBerry was for email, but it lacks the management capabilities of the Blackberry Enterprise Server,” said Dan Dearing, Trust Digital’s chief marketing officer. “IT departments require an efficient way to manage and secure the iPhone before they will consider it fully enterprise-ready.”

The addition of iPhone support to its EMM software means Trust Digital has likely done more for the iPhone’s adoption in businesses than Apple has accomplished in this segment so far. Trust Digital’s EMM solution aims to take the pain of smartphone deployment by consolidating all mobile devices into a single management and security solution that goes beyond the capabilities of Apple’s tools.

The software simplifies how IT administrators and help desk specialists implement policies; it assists users and enforces policy compliance for mobile applications. Features include integration with Microsoft Active Directory for scalable group-based management that enables a device and application choice on a department basis without compromising corporate policies for device usage and security. Security features include policy-based passwords and remote wipe in the case a device is stolen, in addition to user compliance reporting and enforcement for security policies and configuration.

The software can automate the configuration of device features such as email, WiFi and VPN connectivity and apply configuration profiled and policies to groups of iPhones over-the-air, unlike Apple’s XML files distributed through the web or email.

Control and management of device profiles is supported through a web-based “enterprise console” with an integrated “help desk” feature, while a support portal should reduce the number of support calls, the manufacturer said. Trust Digital noted the software avoids datacenter expenses, because it easily integrates with existing directory services, database resources and VPN infrastructure. The newly added iPhone support in Trust Digital’s software builds on top of existing Windows Mobile, Palm and Symbian support.