For IT managers at organizations large and small, the new iPad comes with new IT management challenges along with the added features.
While the 2,048- by 1,536-pixel resolution Retina display was the most visible enhancement to the newest Apple iPad, the device's underlying iOS 5 operating system, optional iCloud service, and optional hotspot capabilities should be of more interest and strategic concern to IT managers.
Most mobile device management (MDM) vendors announced support for the new iPad and the latest version of Apple's iOS when the device was announced March 7. On March 12, Apple released the latest version of its Apple Configurator utility that uses simple workflows and basic policy profiles to configure up to 30 iPads from a single Mac.
Apple's iOS Configuration Profiles are how MDM tools control iPad accounts, policies and device restrictions. As such, controlling iPad access to the iCloud storage utility is limited to either allowing or disabling iCloud components, including backup, document sync and Photo Stream.
For the new iPad, which often shows up at work as part of a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) initiative, these policies will likely be a sore point. Tests at eWEEK Labs in Foster City, Calif., showed that this "on" or "off" approach is likely the most feasible way to control iCloud on the new iPad so that IT managers can ensure that sensitive corporate data isn't accidentally shuttled off to the cloud.
The new iPad with WiFi started shipping Friday, March 16, and costs $499 for the 16GB model, $599 for the 32GB model and $699 for 64GB model. The iPad with WiFi and 4G from either AT&T or Verizon costs $629 for the 16GB model, $729 for the 32GB model and $829 for the 64GB model. I tested the 64GB iPad with WiFi and 4G Long-Term Evolution (LTE) service from Verizon.
With the obvious exception of the Retina display, the new iPad looks almost exactly the same as the two previous generations of Apple's tablet. The biggest differences between the previous generation and the new iPad are inside the device. The new dual-core Apple A5X processor, the iSight 5 megapixel camera and the 4G hotspot capability (when using the optional Verizon cellular service) are all improvements that will entice personal and business users. In fact, all these changes enhance the iPad as a platform for business use. I was easily able to use the iPad as a hotspot throughout the Bay Area, even while crossing the San Mateo Bridge.
Management of the new iPad has everything to do with iOS. I used Apple's newly enhanced Apple Configurator on a MacBook Pro to configure and control my test iPad. Using Configurator, I was able to control how my email accounts were enabled for Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync and IMAP/POP accounts. When I used Configurator to set up these accounts I was able to use the iPad as a "supervised" device (one that is easily reset to my standard settings, including installed apps) or as an "unsupervised" device. When I removed the device from Configurator management, I was able to remove my work email accounts without disturbing my personal email settings.
While Apple enables extensive control of the iPad, I was not able to create a policy that governed the use of the WiFi hotspot. In the future, I would like to see controls that provided more fine-grained policy around how other users can connect, for example, via both WiFi and Bluetooth, or only through one or the other. I would also like to be able to control whether or not the iPad can be tethered to a PC or Mac. I would also like to be able to extend passcode policy for the iPad to the hotspot credentials. As it stands, the hotspot has its own, separate password policy.
IT managers should also note that with the advent of the new iPad, a number of enterprise-class apps are likely to increase. For example, around the time of the iPad announcement, CloudOn made available its app for accessing Microsoft Word documents from the iPad, and Asavie Technologies prepared to launch the iSimplyConnect VPN service. These developments along with Apple's launch last July of the B2B App Store mean that iPad use is set to increase. While the new iPad has the fundamentals in place for managed use in the enterprise, IT managers should press for even more controls as both the device and iOS evolve.