Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: BYOD and the Consumerization of IT

Apple in the enterprise: For some, it's already there

Apple's enterprise presence was on full display at the JAMF Nation User Conference, where more than 1,000 IT administrators gathered to share stories on how they're deploying Apple devices inside their organizations.

Apple in the enterprise For some already there
Jason Wudi, JAMF CTO

MINNEAPOLIS — At the JAMF Nation User Conference (JNUC), you'll be hard pressed to come across any Apple-in-the-enterprise naysayers.

That's because the JNUC plays host to more than 1,000 IT administrators who rely on some form of JAMF software to manage and deploy Apple devices inside their organizations.

JAMF was founded in 2002 — a time when most businesses ran Windows and Microsoft was the reigning king of the tech world — and has stayed on the Apple train since day one, making software for IT departments to manage Apple computers and mobile devices. 

If JAMF's nearly 70 percent year-over-year growth is any indication, there are quite a few enterprise-level organizations taking advantage of (or being accepting of) Apple products within the inner workings of their operations. Even Apple touted its enterprise growth in its latest earnings report, with CEO Tim Cook citing enterprise gains across the board. 

It's an interesting level of success for Apple, considering that the consumer tech giant has largely ignored the enterprise up until recently, relying on vendors such JAMF to churn out platforms that make its products fit for enterprise use.

But JAMF isn't complaining. According to JAMF CTO Jason Wudi, Apple's historically hands-off enterprise approach begets JAMF's own success, much like the Fords or GMs of the world have fueled the success of the likes of Alamo or Hertz.

"From that standpoint, I don't believe Apple would have to say that they are focused on the enterprise," Wudi said. "What they have done is make the information and capabilities available for vendors like a JAMF to fill in those gaps. Apple isn't standing on stage saying 'Look at what we do,' they are saying to people like us, 'Look at what you can do.'"

And perhaps the developer community is listening. Apple said this week that its number of registered enterprise app developers is up 39 percent from last year.

But that doesn't mean Apple has cleared the enterprise hurdle just yet, even with its much-hyped deal with legacy enterprise vendor IBM. 

"We are very interested in the Apple/IBM partnership and we think its positive, especially since there is very little overlap between the companies," Wudi said. "But while I do think the customers will start to see more apps that they can start to use, I don't think IBM will come and change it all, and I don't see Apple coming back to the enterprise IT organizations thinking that the world has changed because of that relationship."

Enterprise growth from the inside out

As for Apple's latest batch of product rollouts, it remains to be seen if they do much to move the enterprise needle on their own. Instead, Wudi said the internal changes on the devices are likely to spur another wave of innovation among app developers, and in turn boost their enterprise presence — not the larger screens or the hardware tweaks.

Wudi said Apple has now created extensions that have connected the plumbing between worflows that was previously disconnected. Now developers and vendors can make apps that connect the workflows even further, especially on the iPad.

"The plumbing is there, the capabilities are there, and now the developers will build in the workflows that people will use to make the iPad a more productive device," he said. "So, it won't be because of what Apple did, but what they enabled on iOS 8." 

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The notion that the developers will drive growth is also one that Apple is seemingly in agreement with. During Apple's earnings call Monday, Cook pointed out a few "progressive" IT organizations that are deploying, managing and developing in-house apps for iPad. 

New releases aside, Wudi said it does seem as though more IT departments have already started to accept iPads into an organization. In the past, iPads were limited to maybe a Web browser and email access, and now, as the comfort level and familiarity from IT has risen, iPads have been allowed more access to company resources.

From the vendor perspective

Given the fact that JAMF has built its business around device management, and since the launch of the iPhone in 2007, mobile device management, it's no surprise that the company is relishing in the recent boom of bring-your-own-device.

Still, the company stands steadfast behind Apple's products, and insists the concept that Apple devices can't be managed is incorrect.

"Every organization has an Apple product in it, even if it wasn't brought in through IT," Wudi said. "Apple devices are already in the enterprise. And not only are they there, when they are embraced and managed by a company, that company grows. So Apple is here. It's here and it's growing."

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