Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Mid-Level Company Mobility Program - iOS or Android?

Case at Hand:
A mid-sized company with a workforce of 500+ employees, out of which 40-60% are stationed at client locations more than 50% of the working hours. The company wants to provide a mobile platform to keep the employees connected at all times. With BB on its way to decline, the company decides to establish a new mobile computing platform for its employees, along with a BYOD support option, provided the mobile device is compatible with the company network and user has complete documentation supporting his/her proof of purchase etc.

Evaluating the various options, the company IT admins should look into the following factors here:

Getting the Work Done: 
Both android iOS supports MS Exchange accounts, android even has the meeting invite response.

Both android and iOS support MS office. There are multiple 3rd party app providers for working with MS office on both leading mobile platform. Google recently even release Google Docs, Sheet and Slides – which have the native capability to edit the MS office 3 most important formats – Word, Excel and PowerPoints, and that too for free! Also google drive provides a large cloud drive for free which can be used for free and seamlessly integrates with Google’s office solutions.  So, a ‘+1’ for android in this department.

Network Support for Admins: 
This is important – as there is a BYOD option that the company wants to explore. However if the company decides to go with android instead of iOS, the network admins are sure to have a tough time due to android fragmentation. Even if most of the android users are on KitKat (4.2+), the various UI customizations by the OEMs can still create nightmares for the admins trying to troubleshoot device related issues over a call. Here the iOS scores +1 due to vertical integration between software and hardware and minimal fragmentation and more or less the same UI over all iOS devices.

Both android and iOS provides robust security with device encryption and remote wipe features. iOS maintains an edge here as android devices are easier to unlock bootloader and obtain ‘root’. It’s also easier to ‘sideload’ applications in android than in iOS which can be security admin nightmare.

Also starting from iOS 8 the device encryption will be switched on by default. Starting with Android L google is rumored to keep android device encryption switched on by default which will give it added protection. However despite all this, the perception of security in iOS is more than that of android as it had issues of malware infections in the past through the official Google Play Store. Due to fingerprint scanner present on all newer iOS devices, iOS gains one more +1 here.

Cloud Implementation: 
Google’s cloud services are much robust than apple’s which is just foraying into the cloud area with its iCloud initiatives. Android can use enterprise J2EE backend services, whereas iOS is a bit limited in scope in this area. Hence developer support can be better for android than iOS due to the popularity with J2EE framework. +1 for android here

Killer Apps: 
For many Google maps and Google Now are two killer apps that overshadow the apple maps / Siri by a large margin. Google seamless integration of data across its multiple services results in a much powerful contextual device. Regarding other apps, google and Apple are almost tied as both platforms carry almost all the required apps by developers. The android emulator is supposed to be one of the best and hence app development is a breeze. +1 for Android here.

Office work – Google
Network admin – iOS
Security – iOS
Cloud implementation – Google
Apps / Solutions – Google

The company management should allocate weights to the various parameters and evaluate the costs associated with network administration of each platform. As of now both platforms are quite competitive and provide their own sets of value addition and challenges for a company-wide BYOD program.