Apple products like the iPad, iPhone, and Mac are enigmas to most IT departments. Users love them, and they prove Apple items' value as productivity tools. However, Apple seems to eschew IT's traditional top-down management philosophy. At least that's the conventional wisdom. But is it true?
Stories by Mel Beckman
Mac shops with significant FireWire investment may not need a total Thunderbolt or USB 3.0 makeover, but staying put with current hard drives and devices will come at a price
Make no mistake: The enterprise is getting serious about developing and delivering mobile business apps. But whether the goal is to spread news, sell products, collaborate with business partners, or push mobile apps as products in themselves, the constant emergence and evolution of mobile platforms have many IT organizations wondering how best to execute the vision -- and what tools and methodologies they should implement to deliver their apps to the right audience at the right time, regardless of device.
For most people, the Mac's OS X is all about the graphical user interface. But system administrators and power users know that the Mac's command-line interface can be a powerful time saver and, in many cases, the only method to accomplish certain tasks. The command shell itself, delivered by Apple's included lTerminal program, is a wonder of open source. Bash -- for "Bourne again shell" -- was developed by free-software guru Brian Fox. It's widely used on operating systems of all kinds, including iOS, Linux, Unix, and mainframes. There's already a huge brain trust of tool knowledge around using Bash as a systems administrator's command shell.
Tablet computing is a decade-old technology, but one that lay buried since users rejected Microsoft's "heavy OS" approach a while back. A year ago, Apple's iPad resurrected the tablet computing concept, delivering a lightweight sheet of computational glass with a pleasant, responsive user interface and a blizzard of applications. Users love it, and now a barrage of wannabe tablets are flooding the marketplace. All do reasonably well at the four applications users access most: Web, email, books, and media. And the half million or so apps in the collective app stores of Apple, Android, and BlackBerry would seem to fill every conceivable mobile need.
In a few short years, Apple has established the iPhone as the mobile platform to beat. Each successive firmware update opens new, and often unmatched, features for users and developers to explore. Many of these features, however, find their roots outside Apple's walled-garden approach to the iPhone, as the jailbreak community proves time and again to be an innovative environment for off-limits apps that demonstrate new ways to push the iPhone platform forward.
The netbook promises convenience and capability in a small, lightweight, and generally inexpensive package, and the concept of a smartbook goes even further: a handy-dandy combination of smartphone and notebook. Alas, most netbook offerings come burdened with a full-blown Windows operating system, which runs slowly on performance-limited netbook hardware and saps battery life. And Windows is not exactly smartphone-oriented.
Despite Apple's formal opposition and upcoming 3.0 firmware, users still seek jailbroken iPhone advantages -- and developers deliver
Back in 1991, before the Internet was a big deal, Ohio State University technologist Jerry Martin signalled the nascent Internet's value with an official standards document entitled "There's gold in them thar networks!" (RFC1290) Although simmering as an academic tool for years, the Internet had not yet triggered a significant paradigm shift for commercial computing. Martin's formal proclamation was an early push to business, which eventually embraced Internet commerce wholeheartedly.
The largest single type of security breach is the stolen or lost laptop, according to the Open Security Foundation, yet these computers are among the least protected of all IT assets. The costs of a data breach can be huge, including the loss of trade secrets, marketing plans, and other competitive information that could have long-term business damage, plus the immediate costs of having to notify people if their personal information was possibly at risk from the breach. Particularly in a recession, enterprise management can't afford to take these risks lightly.