Act now to avoid the Apple tablet apocalypse

We saw the damage the iPhone caused as the ill-fitting consumer technology invaded the corporate space. This time, IT needs to strike first

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In case you think I'm overstating the threat, consider the iPhone. Almost immediately, first-generation iPhone users were turning in their clunky old Windows Mobile devices and petitioning to have their Apple gizmos accepted as standard-issue company phones. There was just one problem: The iPhone couldn't talk to Microsoft Exchange Server, forcing IT shops everywhere to do cartwheels trying to work around this glaring limitation. Even the second-generation iPhone was revealed to claim to support Exchange security policies it did not, creating a hidden backdoor into corporate networks.

An Apple tablet device will be even more disruptive in that consumers will insist on using the new toy as their primary computing environments. This, in turn, will force IT shops to try to shoehorn their increasingly complex enterprise desktop computing stacks onto consumer-oriented devices that were never designed to support such workloads. Basically, it's a recipe for disaster.

So what can IT do to thwart the coming Apple tablet-pocalypse? First, an outright ban is in order. Use whatever excuse you think carries the most weight. For example, claim that the devices are insecure, and that plugging them into the corporate network will compromise its integrity. Then seek to contain the situation by offering up an alternative tablet solution running the IT-supported and IT-approved Windows 7 operating system.

Though not as sleek or as sexy as the real deal, these Apple tablet imitators should be sufficient to placate the bulk of your tablet-infatuated user base. In fact, you may want to nip the situation in the bud by providing the squeakier wheels with their own faux tablets now, before the Apple iHysteria sets in.

And pay special attention to the higher-profile users in the executive suites. Seed them early on with their own prophylactic, Windows-based tablet alternatives. Because if just one of these individuals manages to pick up Apple's latest fruity abomination -- and brings it into the office -- you'll never be rid of the things.

This article, "Act now to avoid the Apple tablet apocalypse," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in mobile computing and Apple at InfoWorld.com.

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