SAP jumps on iOS 7 bandwagon with support for new business features

When the iPhone 5S and 5C models hit store shelves Sept. 20, they will be the first two smartphones to debut Apple’s iOS 7 operating system, the most radical makeover of the mobile OS to date.

In addition to a different user interface and design aesthetic, iOS 7 also comes with several new features targeting businesses. The features make it easier for businesses to deploy the iPhone for a large number of employees and create usage policies that will govern how those phones are used. The update also includes new security enhancements and conveniences that make iPhones and iPads more appealing to businesses. Certainly many businesses are already on board with Apple’s mobile devices, even though the target market has mostly been consumer to date.

Business software vendor SAP AG is recognizing the trend of its customers using iPhones more frequently by supporting the new features in iOS 7 across its own mobile applications. Its entire suite of mobile solutions including SAP Mobile Secure, Mobile Platform, and mobile apps from SAP will support iOS 7 features, SAP states in a recent press release. No surprise that SAP would move to do this before iOS 7 is even on the market seeing as the company is itself a big user of Apple devices. Its global IT department supports 50,000 iOS devices, and use 60 different apps across the organization.

Here’s a look at a few of the new iOS 7 features that SAP software users will be seeing support for in certain specific applications:

Simplified enrolment process

A new mobile device management (MDM) protocol in iOS 7 allows for new commands, queries and configuration options for better interface with third-party software. It will allow IT administrators to automatically enrol new devices with a template of corporate settings and policies. IT admins can also wirelessly push out new apps, custom fonts, and compatible printers. This feature will be useful to SAP Afaria customers. The MDM software has allowed employees issued new devices to self-enrol l new devices and will take advantage of those new iOS 7 features.

Per-app VPN

For apps that a business relies on to send and receive sensitive or confidential information, they can now be set to automatically connect to a virtual private network (VPN) when launched. That means an IT administrator can ensure that corporate data doesn’t exit from behind the firewall, keeping those security safeguards in place. SAP’s Mobile App Protection by Mocana is a solution that allows companies to secure mobile applications in a simplified user interface without being a cryptography expert. It will now be able to have better fine-tuned controls over iOS 7 devices.

Single Sign On for Enterprise Apps

Typically a mobile user must type in a password each time they enter a different enterprise app. But single sign on (SSO) means they can just type that password in once and then access all the enterprise apps on their smartphones. So SAP’s mobile apps on iOS 7 will now be a bit more accessible to their users while maintaining permission-based controls.

App Store licence management

Rather than asking employees to buy apps from their own Apple accounts, businesses can now do a volume purchase of apps and assign them to users and keep control of the licence. A Volume Purchase Program Web site facilitates the batch purchases and then a MDM solution like SAP Afaria is used to assign out those licenses to employees. The same program also offers Mac applications and e-books.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Editorial director of IT World Canada. Covering technology as it applies to business users. Multiple COPA award winner and now judge. Paddles a canoe as much as possible.

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