In my last ‘Consumerization of IT Collides with MEAP’ article, I described how to connect a Windows Phone device to Microsoft’s Cloud servers in Azure. By now you’re probably thinking, “It’s easy to talk about Microsoft endpoints talking to Microsoft servers.” So in this week’s scenario, I’ll use the picture below to illustrate how iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad can utilize many of Gartner’s Critical Capabilities to connect to Microsoft’s On-Premise infrastructure:
As you can see from the picture above:
- For the Management Tools Critical Capability, iOS uses Microsoft Exchange for On-Premise policy enforcement via Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) but has no private software distribution equivalent to System Center Configuration Manager 2007 from Microsoft today. Instead, in-house apps are hosted and distributed via a web server over wireless by having a user click on a URL. In the future, System Center Configuration Manager 2012 will be able to better manage iOS devices.
- For both the Client and Server Integrated Development Environment (IDE) and Multichannel Tool Critical Capability, iOS uses Visual Studio. While the Server/EAI development functionality is the same as every other platform, endpoint development will consist of HTML5, ECMAScript 5, and CSS3 delivered by ASP.NET. WCF REST + JSON Web services can also be created and consumed via Ajax calls from the browser.
- 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. Built-in LDAP support allows it to access corporate directory services.
- For the Enterprise Application Integration Tools Critical Capability, iOS can reach out to servers directly via Web Services or indirectly via SQL Server or BizTalk using SSIS/Adapters to connect to other enterprise packages.
- The Multichannel Server Critical Capability to support any open protocol directly, via Reverse Proxy, or VPN is facilitated by ISA/TMG/UAG/IIS. Crosss-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 Server AppFabric Caching.
- While the Hosting Critical Capability may not be as relevant in an on-premises scenario, Windows Azure Connect provides an IPSec-protected connection to the Cloud and SQL Azure Data Sync can be used to move data between SQL Server and SQL Azure.
- 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.
As you can see, iOS meets many of Gartner’s Critical Capabilities. It’s really improved over the years in areas of security and device management. As you can see from the picture, the big gap is with the client application runtime critical capability. Native development via Xcode/Objective-C is where Apple wants to steer you and Microsoft doesn’t make native tools, runtimes or languages for this platform. You can certainly kick the tires and perform your own due diligence on MonoTouch from our friend Miguel de Icaza and his colleagues in order to reuse your existing .NET and C# skills. From a Microsoft perspective though, you’re definitely looking at HTML5 delivered via ASP.NET.
Next week, I’ll cover how iOS connects to the Cloud.