Apple has occupied the enterprise for some time; it's just making it formal

Apple end-user devices have long been fixtures in the front offices of every corporate office building -- time for the back-end to catch up.

Apple and Cisco just announced a major deal in which Cisco would offer network infrastructure systems that would directly support Apple devices.

On the heels of last year's announcement in which IBM agreed to support Apple's mobile apps, Apple has been making some major forays into the enterprise space.

Photo: Joe McKendrick

Actually, Apple has been in the enterprise space for some time now. Now, it's just making it formal.

Companies have been crawling with Apple evangelists for several years now -- not paid representatives, but end-users. And end-users ultimately have way more influence over corporate IT decisions than sales reps.

Let's put it this way: If you are the IT manager of any company, you probably get calls, visits, emails and mailers from any one of the large IT vendors - IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, Dell, HP, Cisco and EMC to name a few, not to mention vendors specific to your industry. But how many business solicitations have you ever received from Apple? Probably nowhere near as much as you hear from the others, if you have heard from Apple at all.

Yet, in this BYOD world we live and work in now, your employees bring in and use Apple devices every day of the week. In fact, the professional vendor salespeople who make calls on your company every week also probably bring Apple devices with them to help with their pitches. Talk about succeeding in the enterprise without even trying!

The lesson is that users know what they need and want to get their jobs done -- be it mobile devices, cloud applications, or social networks.

But informal networks of enthusiasts only go so far. At the same time, Apple recognizes that other platforms -- Android and now Windows 10-enabled tablets and Windows Phones -- are also competing for the hearts and minds of enterprise customers. Their promoters already have an enterprise presence.

To more firmly plant its stake in the enterprise space, Apple has been teaming up with IBM and Cisco, two of the largest IT vendors in the world have very aggressive enterprise strategies. They have entire segments of their salesforces committed to selling into the enterprise. They have versions of their products that are built at enterprise-strength.

Apple and Cisco's partnership is intended to optimize Cisco networks for iOS devices and apps, integrating iPhone with Cisco enterprise environments and providing unique collaboration on iPhone and iPad. Apple and Cisco also said they are working together to ramp up iPhone's role as a business collaboration tool in Cisco voice and video environments, to better integrate iPhones and desk phones.

Cisco also intends to deliver experiences optimized for iOS across mobile, cloud, and premises-based collaboration tools such as Cisco Spark, Cisco Telepresence and Cisco WebEx.

Apple's IBM partnership created a series of industry-specific enterprise solutions including native apps, developed exclusively from the ground up, for iPhone and iPad, as well as IBM cloud services optimized for iOS, including device management, security, analytics and mobile integration. IBM also is helping to deliver an AppleCare service and support bundle tailored to the needs of the enterprise. Also, as part of the IBM MobileFirst for iOS agreement, IBM is also selling iPhones and iPads with the industry-specific solutions.


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