The iPhone 3G is getting all the attention today, with lines wrapping around the block at Apple Stores and mobile carrier outlets worldwide. But iPhone 2.0, the software included with the 3G iPhone and available at no cost to owners of the first iPhone model, shouldn't be ignored. Enterprise users and IT managers will find that they can now integrate the iPhone into their array of mobile devices.
Key to the use in any company with a few hundred to tens of thousands of potential iPhone users is the free iPhone Configuration Utility. The utility, available from Apple's Support site, comes in both a standalone application version for Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard), and Web applications for Windows XP/Vista and Mac OS X 10.5.
The utility lets an IT manager create and distribute custom profiles for Wi-Fi networking connectivity using secure 802.1X protocols, flesh out VPN connection profiles, restrict activities that iPhone users can engage in, and enable the installation of in-house applications. Profiles created in the utility can be digitally signed.
Profiles can be exported and loaded onto an intranet Web site or sent via email to an iPhone. Apple warns in its configuration manual that the profiles only obscure, not encrypt, their contents. This is unfortunate, because certain information included should be kept entirely secure, and not available even to users, such as a VPN shared secret. Passwords aren't incorporated into profiles in any form, however.
The utility could be made a bit stronger by allowing the configuration of iPhones that are connected to the local network; that would also increase the security of the process, and potentially allow push updates of profiles.