Sync GAL to iPhone

Syncing the Global Address List to iPhones isn’t fast or easy – at least it didn’t used to be.

The need to sync the Global Address List, and the contact information it contains, is universal. Organizations of every size require consistent and accurate contact information on smartphones. Ensuring that everyone has the contacts they need—in Outlook, on their iPhone—is not a one-time exercise. Contacts change frequently—and all the changes need to be synced regularly.

The Global Address List is a feature of Microsoft Exchange Server. If you are involved with the management and upkeep of Exchange, you know that mail delivery within an organization relies almost entirely on the Global Address List. Likewise, keeping outlook contacts and iPhones up to date, requires an automated, centralized solution to ensure continuing business operations.


The GAL and iPhones

The Global Address List (GAL) is a shared, electronic address book which usually contains contact data on every person in a given organization. While a wonderfully useful tool, this database of contact information has a fundamental flaw. When Microsoft developed the GAL, it left a “Missing Sync.” There is no native method of automatically syncing the GAL to iPhone contacts.

The Global Address list and iPhones: Current Problems

As it stands, the GAL is available on a look-up on demand basis on iPhones. This is a fundamental gap when it comes to syncing contact data from the GAL. Without GAL contacts in an iPhone address book users will lack rich caller ID capabilities. Thus, users can be more productive if they have the entire GAL on their smartphones—that’s where they most often need it.

Manually Push Contacts. It is possible, although arduous, for a central administrator to manually push contacts through Outlook to each individual’s mailbox. While this may be feasible for companies that have only a few mailboxes, as a company grows, the amount of labor required for this becomes impractical.

Can’t Access Contacts Offline. A common need for the GAL sync capability is to simply reverse look-up individuals via an iOS address book. Without offline GAL contacts this is not possible. Should information be needed in a general dead-zone like on an airplane or in a tunnel, there will be no way to access the GAL.

Updates Aren’t Automatic. What happens to existing contacts when they change? Leaving this burden upon iPhone users usually results in incorrect or missing phone numbers or missing contact photos.


Office 365 vs Exchange

With the creation of Office 365, many users hoped that Microsoft would address the myriad of issues present with data repositories, outlook, and their iPhones. While the new cloud service did not inherently fix the issue, it did provide better tools for companies to create solutions on a third-party basis to help. For Office 365 users, solutions such as CiraSync provide a very simple, single –sign-on process which allows a central administrator to update, edit, and sync the global address list to any number of company iPhones.

Exchange on premise has a similar solution, in the form of a similar solution, itrezzo UCM. While on premise-solutions inherently require more time and effort to configure, they can handle both on premise and hybrid Exchange Server solutions.


Benefits and Features of Syncing the GAL to iPhones

By utilizing an automated GAL Sync platform, administrators will be able to consolidate GAL contacts with other sources. These solutions will also usually allow administrators to combine contacts from the GAL, Public Folders, CRM systems, SQL databases and spreadsheets; allowing all these contacts to be centrally managed and automatically synced to iPhones.

By actively taking control of your companies Global Address List, administrators will find that automated sync solutions provide an incentive to clean up GAL and CRM databases to ensure only desired contacts reach iPhone users.


The Global Address List and Targeted Distribution Groups

Another beneficial feature to users looking to sync the Global Address List to iPhones involves taking advantage of targeted distribution groups. Typically in a large organization, IT will have set up a number of distribution groups within their GAL. By setting up automatic GAL Sync to only push contacts to certain groups, or update only when a change is made, users can build automated contact lists on their iPhones.