Simplicity pushes iPads from execs to enterprise

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Simplicity pushes iPads from execs to enterprise

Top-down push blows analysts away.

Analysts and users discussing the iPad at a Gartner event yesterday held up the device over its competitors for enterprise use.

Despite Apple's lack of support for corporate iPad deployments, IT managers reported facing growing demand from executives who wanted to bring the tablets into their environments.

Gartner analyst Robin Simpson described it as a global trend that had "blown everybody away".

The introduction of devices like the Palm Pilot had been different, he explained, as those were "pushed up" by employees wanting to use their consumer devices at work.

"This is really weird stuff," he said. "The senior executives are going out and buying these devices themselves and coming to IT and saying 'do it'."

"This is the first time in my experience that a consumer device has come into the corporate environment from the top down ... It's career threatening to say no to the CFO."

While security and reliability remained an issue for some corporate scenarios, users said risk was manageable.

According to Corporate Express CIO Garry Whatley, it all came down to the question: "What risk are you willing to wear for that particular application?"

The office supplier maintained a virtualised, device agnostic environment for its sales force of 600 people in attempt to attract staff.

Curtin University also had a virtualised environment in which staff and students were free to use their own mobile devices, be they tablets, notebooks, netbooks or smartphones.

With 47,000 students, of which half paid full international fees, the university was careful to address student demands, its CIO Peter Nikoletatos said.

"Fee-paying students have choice; BYO your own device is really the way they want to operate," he said.

"We're trying to walk away from being too restrictive about technologies. Whatever application we're delivering to them is available to reposition or repurpose on any device that's connected to us."

At Curtin, there were "hundreds" of iPads being used as "printers" and to access virtualised resources. But although "today, it's the iPad", there was no one-size-fits-all approach.

According to Simpson, however, competing tablets like those running Google's Android OS did not have as great an appeal to enterprises.

Apple's competitors tended to build tablets with added features like USB ports, but "making it more complicated, they're losing the very thing that makes executives want it," he said.

"A lot of these tablets aren't ready for prime time, and they certainly aren't ready for enterprise prime time," he said.

"It's just about simplicity ... For the first time, senior executives have found a computer they can use. They turn it on, it just works."

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