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Enterprise Systems Management

Apple's stealth move into enterprise IT

What will the enterprise landscape look like tomorrow? Much of the focus tends to fall on far-reaching views of the future which envision a wireless and totally mobile environment, facilitated by BYOD, CYOD, WYOD or one other of the many acronyms designed to describe the growing potential for a totally mobile office space.

While mobile has quickly made its way into the enterprise, with some criticising whether we may have run before we could walk in implementing mobile, another, slower but gradual movement is also taking place-the growing numbers of Mac that are beginning to not replace but exist in harmony with the PC; a trend that 98% of IT professionals believe will continue to lead to significant growth of Apple in the enterprise over the next three years.

Many first impressions of the Mac are still rooted in the notion that this technology is ‘reserved’ for those in more ‘creative’ job fields, with the bulk of day-to-day IT usage being carried out by PC. However, the growing popularity of the Macs highlighted by ever increasing sales figures, with Apple selling more than four million units alone in the second quarter of 2015, displays a workforce that is increasingly demanding the technology they use at home to be brought into the workplace.

Once popular with consumers, the rise of IT consumerisation and the tech-savvy consumer has led to employees or prosumers to choose Apple as the most confident and comfortable to work with.

Demand from both the C-Suite and the employee on the floor is leading to a cacophony of voices that IT is increasingly unable to ignore. The popularity of the Mac is a result of not only the technical capabilities of the product itself, but the sheer popularity of Apple as a brand. The ubiquitous nature of Apple has accompanied the radical transition of both working practices and the workplace, with the number of Apple devices in the enterprise doubling over the last three years.

‘Prosumers’ do not wish to draw lines between the workplace and their personal life when it comes to technology. Macs are increasing in popularity because they embody this philosophy perfectly. The association with a creative lifestyle is one that businesses are keen to promote in order to ensure they appeal to the modern workforce. However, it is not simply a case of style over substance as Apple, alongside a handful of dedicated companies, has made it easier than ever for businesses to introduce Macs to their infrastructure.

Removing the IT burden

One of the largest pain points for the IT department has been its reluctance to manage other technologies such as the Mac in the enterprise, as familiarity with PCs and pre-existing support networks have led to a certain level of comfort.

To counter this, Apple has made it easier than ever through schemes such as The Volume Purchase Program which help mass roll-out of applications, alongside partnerships with enterprise powerhouses such as IBM that boast a respected and extensive support network. IT managers can implement device management schemes which allow them to quickly and effectively roll out large numbers of Macs and maintain them without hours of manual effort, with programmes even able to integrate with frameworks like SCCM and Altiris to make integration easier for IT.

Taking away the need for hours of work from a dedicated IT department to maintain the infrastructure of an office is a very big selling point when businesses look to the devices. Another benefit the Mac has over the PC is the growing clamour for connectivity across devices. Employees are not only using Macs, but are likely to be bringing in iPhones, iPads and soon Apple Watches. The desire to have all these devices work alongside each other and share files makes the Mac an attractive hub on which to run through the plethora of additional Apple devices.

Part of Apple’s appeal has always been its simplicity, so simple that employees have an abundance of how-to guides and online manuals to learn about their devices – with the majority of users learning from others quickly and easily. The IT department, unlike with the PC, can guide employees to help self-sufficiently solve any pain points such as password recovery or installations, helping to save time and resources.

So is this the future of enterprise? While many envision the office as a completely mobile environment, it will still be a very gradual process – with many businesses relying on a fixed infrastructure that will not be ripped out and replaced overnight. The rise of the Mac is an evolution, not a revolution and is a clear sign of where enterprise technology is leading.

 

Tad Johnson is commercial marketing manager at JAMF Software which develops enterprise management software for Apple IT environments

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