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iPhone targets the enterprise with new apps, Cisco VPN client

The iPhone was already doing a pretty good job creeping into the enterprise, despite early concerns about its security and manageability. Now, Apple is taking steps to allay those fears; yesterday, the company unveiled new features designed to help the iPhone better fit into the enterprise.

iPhone EnterpriseEarly critics of the iPhone disliked its closed OS, which prevented third-party developers from creating new applications for the device. This limited the ways the phone could access corporate applications, most prominently, “push” email.

Now, Apple intends to open its software development kit by June, enabling the development of enterprise-worthy applications.

Jason Brooks speculates in his eWeek blog that the new apps will give the iPhone a leg up over RIM and Palm:

I expect that Treos will begin to wither in the eyes of one-time loyalists, and that erstwhile thumb-keyboard addicts will start to judge their BlackBerrys to be significantly sourer.

That’s good news for Apple fans; what’s perhaps even better news for network people is the integration of Cisco’s VPN client software. According to Network World blogger Jamey Hearey:

This will be a full blown IPSEC client that will even support the use of certificates or password based multi-factor authentication. Very nice! The iPhone VPN client will be able to connect to Cisco VPN gateway devices, like the Cisco ASA and older Cisco PIX.

Hearey, a security consulting systems engineer at Cisco, also points out that Apple announced its plans to support WPA with 802.1x authentication. “This will enable more enterprises to allow the iPhone to connect securely to their wireless infrastructure,” Hearey wrote.

Apple also opened an iPhone Enterprise Beta Program, through which enterprise developers can play with the 2.0 code before the official launch later this year. Check out Apple’s “iPhone Enterprise” page to read more about the program or view video of Steve Jobs making the announcement:

It seems that the iPhone is unstoppable. Unfortunately, I won’t have one until they give them to you free with a three-year, $35/month service contract.

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