In my ‘Consumerization of IT Collides with MEAP’ article last week, I described how to connect iPhones and iPads to Microsoft’s On-Premise infrastructure. In this week’s scenario, I’ll use the picture below to illustrate how iOS utilizes many of Gartner’s Mobile Enterprise Application Platform Critical Capabilities to connect to Microsoft’s Cloud services in Azure:

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As you can see from the picture above:

  1. For the Management Tools Critical Capability, there is no Cloud-based device management solution, policy-enforcement, or software distribution solution from Microsoft for iOS.  As I mentioned in last week’s post, consumer software distribution comes from the App Store and the enterprise equivalent is facilitated via internal web servers and user-clickable URLs.
  2. For both the Client and Server Integrated Development Environment (IDE) and Multichannel Tool Critical Capability, iOS uses Visual Studio.  Endpoint development consists of HTML5, ECMAScript 5, and CSS3 delivered by ASP.NET via Web Roles.  WCF REST + JSON Web services can also be created and consumed via Ajax calls from the browser.  On the Cloud side of things, the Windows Azure SDK plugs into Visual Studio and provides iOS developers with everything they need to build Cloud applications. It includes a Cloud emulator to simulate all aspects of Windows Azure and AppFabric on their development computer. In scenarios where native development is required by the customers, the Windows Azure Toolkit for iOS can be used to allow XCode/Objective-C to securely communicate with the Microsoft cloud.
  3. For the cross-platform Application Client Runtime Critical Capability, iOS uses the WebKit browser called Safari to provide HTML5 + CSS3 + ECMAScript5 capabilities. Offline storage is important to keep potentially disconnected iPhones and iPads working and this is facilitated by Web Storage which is accessible via JavaScript.
  4. For the Security Critical Capability, iOS provides AES 256 hardware encryption as well as Data Protection based on the user’s device passcode for data-at-rest. Data-in-transit is secured via SSL, VPN, and 802.1X.  Auth in the Microsoft cloud is handled via the Windows Azure AppFabric Access Control Service (ACS).
  5. For the Enterprise Application Integration Tools Critical Capability, iOS can reach out to servers directly via Web Services or indirectly through the Cloud via the Windows Azure AppFabric Service Bus to connect to other enterprise packages.
  6. The Multichannel Server Critical Capability to support any open protocol is handled automatically by Windows Azure. Cross-Platform wire protocols riding on top of HTTP are exposed by Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) and include SOAP, REST and Atompub. Cross-Platform data serialization is also provided by WCF including XML, JSON, and OData. These Multichannel capabilities support thick clients making web service calls as well as thin web clients making Ajax calls. Distributed caching to dramatically boost the performance of any client is provided by Windows Azure AppFabric Caching.
  7. As you might imagine, the Hosting Critical Capability is handled by Windows Azure. Beyond providing the most complete solution of any Cloud provider, Windows Azure Connect provides an IPSec-protected connection with your On-Premises network and SQL Azure Data Sync can be used to move data between SQL Server and SQL Azure. This gives you the Hybrid Cloud solution you might be looking for.
  8. For the Packaged Mobile Apps or Components Critical Capability, iOS runs cross-platform mobile apps including OneNote, Bing, Tag, and of course the critical ActiveSync component that makes push emails, contacts, calendars, and device management policies possible.

While iOS meets many of Gartner’s Critical Capabilities, it doesn’t fare very well when it comes to cloud-based device management.  That being said, this is not a strong area for many mobile endpoints at this stage of the game.

Next week, I’ll cover how Android connects to an On-Premises Microsoft infrastructure.

Best Regards,

Rob

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