For many organizations, these capabilities coupled with the Virtual Phone Platform's support for the iPhone may knock down a big barrier to enterprise iPhone adoption. MobileIron's Tinker says that the server has the same capabilities as Apple's iPhone Configuration Utility, but does not require the use of iTunes, can manage iPhones over the air rather than through USB connections, and can enforce installation of policies rather than merely distribute them. The Virtual Phone Platform uses an iPhone client to enable this over-the-air management.
Fenwick & West's Kesner says these capabilities are very appealing in an organization like his that has a mix or company- and user-provided devices, though he notes his organization has just started to test the iPhone management features and can't yet comment on how well they work.
The MobileIron Virtual Phone Platform does not manage e-mail -- IT will continue to use Exchange Server or BlackBerry Enterprise Server to do that. Tinker says e-mail management is a solved problem, while multidevice management and cellular monitoring were unmet needs.
At Fenwick & West, Kesner is also looking beyond server-based e-mail management, especially because it is easy for devices to connect to e-mail servers without IT's knowledge. For example, he points out that Research in Motion quietly updated the BlackBerry this past year so that users could directly connect to an IMAP-enabled e-mail server, without informing IT. (iPhones, Palm Pres, and many other devices can also connect this way, in addition to their ActiveSync connection capabilities.) The ease through which users can connect to e-mail systems makes it all that more important to manage the devices' security and storage settings, as blocking mobile users from corporate data is increasingly untenable.