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Opinion: Is OS X Mountain Lion a large cat for business?

 

Opinion: Is OS X Mountain Lion a large cat for business?

Apple surprised the tech world on Thursday by unveiling a developer preview of OS X Mountain Lion , generation x of their desktop operating-system set to ship this summer time — only a year after OS X 10.7 “Lion” showed up.

In line with the information Apple has released to date, Mountain Lion continues within the actions of their predecessor and produce more features from iOS towards the desktop in addition to strengthen ties to Apple’s iCloud service. (iOS forces Apple’s iPhone and iPad.) Which makes Mountain Lion something of the mixed bag for enterprise environments : it’s some features which are very helpful for business users, while some — like its near-total integration with Apple’s personal cloud service — will probably raise warning flags within the minds of CIOs also it professionals.

Nevertheless, the brand new OS offers some changes that’ll be particularly welcomed by mobile business users. Here’s a glance at a number of what’s new in addition to a take a look at a few of the concerns to bear in mind if you are planning to update to Mountain Lion later this season.

AirPlay Mirroring

If you are somebody that does presentations, you’ll like AirPlay mirroring, an element that Apple first introduced around the apple ipad 2 and incorporated using the iPhone 4S. AirPlay Mirroring enables a Mountain Lion Mac to wirelessly broadcast whatever is on its screen for an High definition tv while using Apple Television set-top box . Without doubt, this selection is going to be ideal for home uses like gaming and watching web-based video in your TV with hardly any effort (something unlikely to sit down well with Hollywood executives or the likes of Netflix and Hulu which have attended great lengths to secure licensing deals for streaming to create-top box devices).

Why is AirPlay mirroring for Macs valuable at work is the simplicity of setup and also the ubiquity of HDTVs (or projectors that may accept HDMI video). Pairing an Apple TV box by having an Laptop results in a presentation system that may connect almost anywhere with only two cables (AC power and HDMI), no configuration needed. You do not even have to be on the Wi-Fi network, just because a MacBook Air or Pro can make an advertisement hoc network the Apple TV can join. That’s something which may be easily done prior to an exhibition.

Files in iCloud

The greatest business feature, however, needs to be Apple’s iCloud. In Mountain Lion, iCloud will put cloud storage in the forefront. Mountain Lion’s open and save dialogs includes an iOS-like look at a user’s iCloud space for storage, including iOS-style “folders” for grouping documents. Any documents kept in this space immediately propagate changes to versions from the documents on all a user’s devices and Mountain Lion Macs. Updates occur instantly and you may even begin to see the edits appear for those who have a document open on two devices simultaneously. You do not even have to make sure to save changes.

This is a effective feature which will let business users always get access to files they require, whether at work, in a client worksite, in your own home, within an airport terminal, or virtually elsewhere with web access. If Apple could possibly get the majority of its developers, particularly individuals of economic software, using iCloud document storage, it might transform the way we use cellular devices and computers at work.

That could be a big “if,” though — iCloud document storage are only readily available for apps offered through Apple’s Mac Application Store. Beginning this spring, Apple will need developers to limit ale applications to have interaction with one another with OS X itself — a procedure known as sandboxing — if they would like to sell their software with the Mac Application Store. Many developers are reluctant about sandboxing and a few claim submission using the requirement means stripping features from most apps. (A number of Apple’s own Mac apps don’t satisfy the requirement at this time.)

This may also mean challenges for Macs deployed at work, where IT staff typically unveil software using mass deployment tools. Apple has yet to produce a Mac Application Store form of its volume purchase arrange for the iOS Application Store, which enables companies to purchase apps in large quantities for distribution to worker iPhones and iPads.

Even when Apple duplicates the amount purchase intend on the Mac Application Store, the model might not work nicely in bigger enterprise environments. The bond between purchases and individual Apple IDs runs resistant to the development of standardized Mac configurations which are answer to moving out and managing large collections of computers in companies or schools. That may pressure organizations to choose from deployment processes and tools which are attempted and true (and efficient) and offering apps which are offered only within the Mac Application Store.

Data peace of mind in an iCloud era

iCloud’s documents-in-the-cloud philosophy creates major privacy and security concerns for companies. If information is put into a user’s iCloud storage, it will likely be on every device owned or utilized by that individual. Which makes it virtually impossible to secure private or private material. Even when there is no intention to distribute private or sensitive data, the truth that it’s accessible on a lot of devices as well as in Apple data centers allows documents to fall under the incorrect hands. In controlled industries like healthcare, any utilization of iCloud or similar solutions can certainly violate privacy laws and regulations with significant effects. Additionally, it allows anyone to alter documents, intentionally or otherwise.

This can be a already an issue with almost any cloud service. However the potential impact with regards to documents and then any other data iCloud can sync is a lot broader — plus much more serious.

I noted these concerns about iCloud when Apple shipped iOS 5 last fall. Among the big challenges I reported was that although managers may use Apple’s mobile management frameworks to bar iCloud functionality, they cannot achieve this inside a granular way. The iOS 5 approach is really all-or-nothing.

It’s too soon to inform what iCloud management options Apple includes in Mountain Lion. Ideally, Apple will have the ability to configure iCloud access on the per-application basis. That will allow a minimum of some versatility. Otherwise, we might well finish up in times where iCloud storage is not permitted on business Macs while other iCloud options like contact syncing are.

Obviously, It might also simply disallow all iCloud access. That could be going one step beyond many people (users also it professionals alike) want, because it negates the majority of the functionality that Apple is getting to Mountain Lion.

It’s intriguing to picture Apple supplying a business iCloud feature — whether built-directly into Mountain Lion Server, being an appliance device like the company’s Time Capsule, or like a service located by Apple which has enterprise-type controls. Although possible, I do not think this is extremely likely, particularly given Apple’s general leave the information center in the last few years.

In a nutshell, iCloud offers some effective features and equally effective risks.

Messages

Among the big the best-selling BlackBerry for business users happens to be secure push messaging. Apple’s iMessage service in iOS 5 delivers that type of functionality for iPhones and iPads and Mountain Lion brings that to OS X within the new Messages application . (You can test the public beta of Messages now to obtain a sense of it, if you would like.) Including this selection in Mountain Lion is really a no-brainer and it is functionality already works pretty much. Note: Messages replaces iChat, that has effectively been folded in to the new application.

Messages is undoubtedly an excellent solution for mobile professionals, particularly because it can select from other technologies when contacting non-Mac/iOS users, including SMS as well as other im services for example Jabber, which enables for intra-organization chat services (using iChat Server in OS X Server or any other solution). Which means Messages and Jabber could be combined right into a unified and comparatively secure messaging solution.

Quite simply, make room BlackBerry.

Notifications — anywhere, anytime

The brand new Notification Center’s power for just about any user is it furthers the anywhere/anytime ethos of iCloud. Being implemented on iPhones and iPads in addition to Mountain Lion Macs can create an ecosystem to which when a user must have some understanding, they’re alerted. This certainly has business implications since it makes certain that information flows to some user and could be retrieved anyplace using whatever device or medium is most available.

Notification Center access on iOS and — once Mountain Lion arrives — on OS X really delivers on the thought of the connected mobile professional.

Reminders and Notes

It’s pretty easy to understand how good these functions is useful for professionals. To be honest, now it’s time that OS X acquired a number of this capacity within an easy-to-use and simple-to-sync fashion. Yes to-dos and notes have been in existence in OS X for that better a part of ten years, but they have been crammed into other applications where they did not quite fit. Again, it is the iCloud integration this is the killer feature of these apps. Regrettably, it is also an issue for this because it produces the same chance of sensitive data getting away a company (particularly with Notes).

Discussing, everywhere

Mountain Lion’s focus on discussing certainly causes it to be a social-first operating-system. The inclusion from the new Share Sheets within the built-in apps and, presumably, in third-party apps causes it to be easy to talk about any kind of content. While there is a limit to Twitter use within business, the opportunity to instantly share content using other methods — for example by email or Messages — provides the possibility to drive a far more collaborative experience.

Strangely enough, while Twitter discussing is made in to the Share Sheet, there is nothing there for delivering happy to big social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook or Google .

Gatekeeper is much more consumer than business

Gatekeeper has become lots of attention like a security feature of Mountain Lion. It’s area of the Security & Privacy preference pane, also it basically enables a person (or company) to limit the apps you can use on the Mac. The choices are pretty straight-forward: You are able to allow apps downloaded only in the Mac Application Store, in the Mac Application Store and reliable developers, or everywhere.

Its inclusion in Mountain Lion is unquestionably a highly effective accessory for Apple’s technique of protecting Macs from adware and spyware. That stated, I see Gatekeeper to be aimed more at consumers compared to workplace. Companies should curently have broad anti-adware and spyware strategies in position that encompass Macs in addition to Computers. That strategy will include limitations against most users installing software, a standardized software update and patch management system and centralized anti-virus/anti-adware and spyware solutions which are already in position.

In a nutshell, the situations Gatekeeper protects against should be protected running a business environments. Obviously, some extra protection never hurts anybody.

Mountain Lion Server – is Apple finally from the data center?

Apple also designed a developer preview of Mountain Lion Server available, there is however been little discussion about this to date. (The Mac small colocation blog did publish some initial screenshots and impressions.) To date, it appears as though Apple is staying with its fundamental but simple small-business method of OS X Server. That’s not just a surprise. Actually, I would not be particularly surprised to determine some advanced functionality be removed or further deprecated than Lion Server. That remains seen — along with Apple’s overall arrange for OS X Server in general.

Final ideas

OS X Mountain Lion continues the advancement of developing a complete ecosystem for Apple users. The tie-ins between OS X, iOS and iCloud are prominent plus they offer lots of possibility of business users. The large challenge for Apple (or third-party developers) is going to be working out how you can provide IT solutions that provide the helpful functionality of the ecosystem while still maintaining core needs like data security and mass deployment.

You need to keep in mind that this really is, in the end, a developer preview along with other features and tweaks might appear prior to the final version is released later this season. Knowing from what developers happen to be reporting online, however, this preview seems to become solid and functional, giving companies time for you to test drive it and work out how better to incorporate it within their operations.

 

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