Apple's new weapon for enterprise adoption of the iPad: Configurator tool

Apple's new weapon for enterprise adoption of the iPad: Configurator tool

Summary: Apple has quietly launched the new Configurator tool to further iPad deployment among large organizations.

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According to PC stalwarts like Dell and HP, we just need to wait for Windows 8 to launch before the enterprise will embrace tablets. Meanwhile, Apple keeps making inroads with a market segment it never succeeded much with before -- and it's quietly launched a new tool to further iPad deployment among large organizations.

The free Configurator tool (available via the Mac App Store) allows an IT department to prepare a large number of iOS devices (30 at a time) to be deployed immediately. It lets you mass-update to the latest iOS version, and sync apps and install remote management software across your device fleet. You can further divide the devices into groups, allowing you to tailor the user experience to certain segments, and even manage check ins and check outs of iPads.

It's pretty easy to envision scenarios where the Configurator would be useful. A hospital could roll out iPads across its staff, with apps installed depending on your role and medical specialty. Likewise, a school could deploy iPads and divide them by grade levels, installing appropriate apps for the child's grade.

Apple still will never court enterprise in the way that Microsoft needs to, but at this stage of the game, it doesn't have to. With a commanding market share and customers dying to use the iPad at work, a little tool like Configurator can go a long way in making iOS devices more palatable to enterprise IT departments.

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Topics: Windows, Tablets, Software, Operating Systems, Mobility, Microsoft, Laptops, iPad, Hardware, CXO, Apple

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24 comments
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  • It's a start

    The configurator is a good first step. From initial feedback that I have heard, it can be a little buggy. But, this is a good first step and is not all that surprising since this app can trace its origins to the configuration tool used at the Apple retail stores.
    Your Non Advocate
    • It's a hopeless start

      I know my employer has ZERO plans to roll out these unmanaged devices. I find it funny how so many "here" talk like it's happening, but I'm willing to bet it's not as widely accepted as you think it is. And to the comment about dying to use one at work...that's ridiculous, dying to be less productive? LMAO
      Rob.sharp
  • It has got to drive Dell & HP nuts

    That they slog through corporate sales chains and have to coddle PITA CIOs, but Apple sells butt-loads of high-margin into the enterprise without even trying.
    matthew_maurice
  • Does Apple Understand

    While this is nice, the current functionality and design still leaves the iPad as a secondary niche tool. It can fulfill specific tasks or operate in the former RIM territory but still cannot replace the "pc".

    Win8 can and might drive a form change factor utilizing the existing OS ecosystem. Without that or an equivalent competing OS ecosystem, the iPad, and Android, are niche tools.
    rhonin
    • Niche isn't a problem for Apple.

      Apple doesn't want or need to be a major enterprise player. It's not like they have tons of iPads lying around unsold. They're selling basically every one they can make. Generating interest from the enterprise is basically all gravy for Apple. If low-effort tools grease those skids a bit, so much the better.
      matthew_maurice
      • That may have been true...

        Under Jobs/Apple 5-10 years ago, but times are changing. Cook's at the helm, and between BYOD/consumerization of IT and cloud/desktop virtualization, Apple would be short sighted to completely ignore it. I doubt they'll dive in head first, but they'll continue to become at least a little more enterprise aware/friendly.

        They don't have to be MS, but tools like this can go a long way towards easing the concerns and pains of enterprise IT who ultimately have to support iDevices in their shops.
        TroyMcClure
      • Of course they're not ignoring it.

        @piousmonk the fact that this tool exists proves that they're conscious of the enterprise, but they'll never flat-out court it-because [b]they don't have to[/b]. Even easing the [i]"pains of enterprise IT"[/i] isn't a primary concern for Apple (e.g. Configurator tool is OS X Lion-only). Apple clearly is saying "this is where we're going, you can come along if you want to, but we're not going to drag you."
        matthew_maurice
      • iPads in the Enterprise

        @matthew_maurice Then it could certainly be to Apple's detriment; it's going to face competition in the fall from Win8 tablets, and they're better-poised for the enterprise. And let's not forget that school districts are enterprise environments, too--if Apple isn't overly concerned with enterprises, they risk alienating schools.
        ParrotHead_FL
    • Dont you understand..

      ...that many segments of enterprise would benefit from deploying a tablet with the current functionality and design of the iPad and is actually a better fit than deploying over spec'd and underused tech which is often more expensive, costs more to manage and is 'yesterday's' solution? The simplicity you underrate is a boon to usability, requires little to no training for users and can be tailored to maximum efficiency in 'thousands of niche situations'. The enterprise seems to be catching on to the implications of Post PC culture using the iPad, despite the as yet to appear unproven version 1 of Widows 8. If you expect enterprise to rise up and en masse adopt W8 instead of the proven iPad solution now in its 3rd iteration with a huge selection of enterprise-ready apps...well, it ain't gonna happen. There is nothing W8 offers that is different enough to the iPad, that could drive such an immediate uptake. Note I'm not saying W8 doesn't offer more than the iPad, it clearly does, but the Windows tablets offered to date have found no wholesale adoption in the enterprise most likely because they try to do too much and fail to shine in any one area, with poor touch interfaces, poorly optimised touch apps and being burdened with weight and battery life problems. That's a lot to overcome with a version 1 product with little to no ecosystem in place. I don't see a significant challenge to the iPad in enterprise any time soon...and certainly not at launch. The end of 2012 is an awful long way away and there will still be the inevitable bugs to overcome with such a major software release; bugs that can only be addressed with large scale adoption and use.
      frogspaw
  • Where's the PC Version?

    My enterprise--like many--is a PC shop. Do I really have to buy a Mac in order to use this tool?
    ParrotHead_FL
    • Yep.

      But seriously, considering how spotty iTunes for Windows is, you really want to use Apple software on Apple hardware. They're never going to spend any effort learning to write to the Windows API, so don't fight it. Just buy an iMac or Mac Mini and KVM box-you'll be much happier.
      matthew_maurice
      • Or

        Just don't buy any Apple products, and be happier still!
        x I'm tc
    • Available on Apple Support Site

      You can download the PC version on Apple's support site. Look under iPad then under Enterprise.
      ITsooner
    • A PC shop?

      You do mean your shop has PCs that run an OS other than OS X, right?
      GeoffMichael
  • Enterprise is not the naive consumer

    Enterprise will never adopt Apple products in mass. Enterprise cares most about price. A couple of cool commercials and a iconic CEO presentation will not get enterprise to overpay.
    gatormba2003
    • I was just at Lowe's, the home improement and building materials stores,

      and a manager there just told me that, Lowe's is going full blast with Apple for everything to do with IT, including iPhones and iPads and even Macs.

      I haven't checked out his information yet, but, I'm curious about what it is that Apple would be offering Lowe's and how the store could meet all of its needs with Apple "only". I know Apple is no longer in the server business, but, perhaps Lowe's is planning on the iCloud for its server needs. I don't know, and I'm wondering if any one out there knows.
      adornoe
      • ya

        I would believe a manage at a Lowe's store on what the corporate office is doing. Maybe he sat in one of those 3 year IT Strategy meetings with the CIO.
        TGGR
    • Iconic CEO presentation

      If you believe that Apple's success has anything to do with the CEO presentations, you are probably from another planet. Same about the commercials.
      danbi
  • Maybe they are pissed of my Microsoft?

    Sometimes, disagreement with your current supplier is enough reason to go and seek another. Apple needs not do anything special, except make sure they have good products on the market, just in case.

    The thing about the "server" and Windows is actually funny. Windows was never ever meant as server OS and it does perform poorly as such, no matter what tricks Microsoft will try. In the real world, you want a server farm (some UNIX variant) and clients. If your application is well designed, it will not use any proprietary technology, such as found in Windows, or any other platform -- and your clients could be any platform. Fact is, Apple makes really nice clients in various forms and sizes.

    So nothing surprising for businesses junking Windows, using real servers and whatever they like for the client platforms.
    danbi
  • itunes..

    for the corporate world :)
    Nate_K