Enterprise Apples

I was just catching up on what’s been happening on twitter this afternoon and I noticed that Jemima posted an article on the Guardian about Apple and its (non-)moves into the Enterprise space.

I’ll let you read the post yourself (Jemima’s stuff is always worth reading), but the gist of the story is that Apple are now moving into the enterprise without even trying.

For years Apple has deliberately ignored the corporate world.  The enterprise just isn’t where Big Steve wants the company to be.    He’s concentrated on home consumers and the education market.  That’s fair enough, I can see why.

The thing is… over the past few years Apple has pulled of something quite remarkable.  It changed the world.  It made computers, or more specifically it’s computers, cool.  Not just geeky cool, but mainstream cool. 

Combine this with Apples focus on education, offering cheap Macs to students and faculty, and the enterprise space is now seeing a huge influx of talent and skills that are expecting to find a Mac on their desk at the office.

Now I fully expect Steve to take credit for this master plan at some point, whether it was a plan or not who knows, only him I guess.  But what this means for me is that I need to start shifting IT infrastructure to a multi-platform model. 

Now I think this is fantastic.  After all, IS organisations are there to make the business more productive.  But For IT departments that have spent the last 10 years standardising and streamlining their platforms the prospect of adopting a whole new set of management systems isn’t that attractive.

It’s here that Apples indifference to the enterprise world begins to show.

Microsoft, for all its faults, gets Enterprise computing.  Really gets it.  It knows how IT works in big business and creates tools to help make IT organisations more effective.  So do a whole bunch of other companies who specialise in  deploying, managing, patching and securing large PC based environments. 

This ecosystem doesn’t really exist in the Mac world – or at least not to the same extent.  There are definitely tools out there, but for the most part they are pretty bespoke to Mac’s.  They need tools and skills that otherwise don’t exist in a PC environment.  Supporting both the Windows and Mac platforms therefore has the potential to increase overall costs. 

Help is at hand however, and we end up with a rather strange situation where the ecosystem that supports the current PC focused enterprise is possibly better placed to simplify the adoption of Mac than Apple is. 

You can already see this happening, people like Quest and other members of the SMSAlliance provide extensions for System Centre Configuration Manager and other management suites.  LANDesk and Altiris are continually adding to their own support for Macs.  Microsoft themselves recently released Messenger for Mac 7 that built in support for Office Communications Server. 

Hopefully with all this increased support enterprises can start to adopt Mac’s without having to drastically rework their internal systems and processes.  Big companies are already starting the move (here and here).  It’ll certainly make my life easier!  I wonder if Big Steve really did have a master plan?

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