How to succeed in the enterprise without really trying: Apple's crunch

How to succeed in the enterprise without really trying: Apple's crunch

Summary: Companies are now crawling with Apple sales representatives -- not paid representatives, but end-users.


Author's note: This is a modified version of two posts I recently ran at the Insurance Networking News site.

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 solicitations do you get from Apple?

Probably nowhere near as much as you hear from the others, if you hear from Apple at all.

Yet, your company is probably crawling with Apple sales representatives. Not paid representatives, mind you, but your employees, many of whom are Apple customers (who are more powerful sales representatives than any other vendors' rep forces combined). 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 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, on the other hand, as far as I can tell, does not have an enterprise strategy. Steve Jobs, in fact, once famously expressed his distaste for the enterprise. It builds products for individuals and consumers, period. Yet, it is projected to have more of an impact in the enterprise than any other vendor. It is shaking up the end-user, client-side segment in a way not seen since the dawn of the PC in the early 1980s. Its devices are probably becoming just as ubiquitous in office environments as Windows PCs.

A study out of Forrester Research projects that enterprise spending on Apple products will jump 58 percent this year, to $19 billion on iPads and Macs. This is up from around $12 billion last year, and spending will rise to $28 billion in 2013.

And against all the conventional wisdom that has built up over the decades. For years, the emphasis in enterprise computing has been away from hardware, to the ability to run software on any machine that is available. Microsoft Windows certainly ascribes to this model of commodity hardware. Of course, Linux runs on almost anything. The commodization of hardware drastically lowered the cost of computing, while increasing its flexibility. But Mac OS X only runs on Macs—the hardware and software are one inseparable package.

How does Apple sustain a fused hardware/software model that has long been abandoned by everyone else in an era of commodization and flexibility? It boils down to vision. Most vendors want to sell you a box. Apple, on the other hand, wants to sell you a revolution. Rightly or wrongly, they are driven by an almost obsessive vision on making computing affordable, accessible, easy and even fun to everyone on the planet. Yes, Apple is happy to take your money, too. But that's not the image they project to the world. And CIOs and IT managers have been forced to sit up and take notice.

But the CIOs aren't the ones pushing Apple. Instead, its products are being brought in en masse by the rank-and-file, as the world appears mesmerized by the elegance, capabilities and ease of use of its products ranging from iPhones to iPads and Macs.

We'll see if it lasts. Technology markets are not kind to vendors who slacken off on innovation, and tend to go through annual upheavals. But for now, Apple is the "it" company -- no matter what upper-case "IT" thinks.

(Photo: Wikipedia.)

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Topics: Enterprise Software, Apple, Banking

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  • SGI and Sun followed the same strategy that Apple follows

    The major difference is that SGI and Sun were niche products that solved unique challenges. Apple is competing in what is, ultimately, a commodity space. Apple has no differentiator, other than incompatibility with many backend systems. Last I checked, Apple could not even reliably find the nearest AD controller and would arbitrarily find one, no matter where in the world it is.

    With so many strikes and no "killer apps", like SGI and Sun had, what is its long term viability in the Enterprise market? About as viable as an Xserve in a data center.
    Your Non Advocate
    • Your assumption

      is that finding the nearest AD controller is required. We had issues with connecting Mac's to AD, epecially with Lion.

      Then we took a close look at why we wanted them too....and there was no really good reason. Then we just stood up a OD environment for our Mac's to push policies, software, updates etc to the Mac's.

      Users of Mac's still have AD logins for things like Sharepoint/Exchange and that works great with Office 2011, but after that things like People Soft and many other applications are web based and don't use AD, so it does not matter. Or Mac's used in our advertising/marketing groups spend 90% of their time on the Adobe suit, or other local Mac apps and dont need any besides email and printing over the network.
      • You assume setting up a scalable OD environment was a worthwhile act

        In fact, a) OD does not scale to the needs of a multi-national company and b) why would I maintain non-value adding infrastructure like OD.

        It sounds like your organization has very basic needs and does not rise to the description of "enterprise".
        Your Non Advocate
      • We only have about

        40 Mac users. Probably 200 iPad users, and about 4500 Windows users. Probably not "Enterprise".

        The OD is only to maintain the Mac's. It pretty much does what we do with PC's using Microsoft products for Windows. User/Group/Computer policies, patching, imaging, software deployment.

        Depending upon your environment, with so many internal and external applications that are web based, AD is needed less and less or mainly for Windows support.
      • The greater the number of web apps, the greater the need for AD

        I federate external CRM and other solutions with Active Directory. The *more* web applications that I use, the greater the federation and the reliance on Active Directory.
        Your Non Advocate
      • Jeves...

        I'm finding it pretty hard to believe you outright, because what you are saying does not match ANYTHING that I recognise and by all accounts your organisation is twice the size of mine???? If anything AD is MORE relevant than it used to be. Every device, every printer, every system is authenticated via AD, gets user information from AD and the majority of objects are managed centrally via AD. There are more policies to push, not less and there are more Windows workstations added for new tasks, never less. So I cannot imagine which industry you work in, where 5000 computers would have such limited scope for system management and centralisation as to make AD somewhat irrelevant? I just don't get it....
      • @Traxxion


        About 4200 of the Windows boxes are POS systems. Simple straight forward POS, where the computer Autologins into a local account and runs a single full screen/touch screen POS app.

        They are currently in AD, however the plan is to move them out of AD, and lock them down with a product called "SolidCore". Locked down as in NOTHING gets installed after the build. This is for PCI compliance and if locked down in this manner we don't have to apply Windows Updates or run anti-malware, because the box can't have anything installed on it.

        AD is great don't get me wrong. For the 300 or so Windows computers we have (80% are VDI's on VMware) plus Windows severs (all virtualized) AD, GPO's, SCCM, SCOM, are all great tools that go a long way in automating our Windows environment, and help us keep IT head count down. AD further helps out with Exchange, Sharepoint and Lync.

        Our non-infrastructure apps, or core apps all run on UNIX/Oracle and we don't intergrate those worlds with AD. We have looked at it and it would be easier for the users with SSO on but its not a priority. These apps are all browser based, there are no Windows clients for them any more. We have a many headquarters users that use these core apps, and Outlook all day. In fact many users have now taken to use OWA instead of Outlook after our Exchange 2010 upgrade. Not sure why, OWA is much better in 2010, and maybe they are getting so used to using webmail at home.

        The point being AD is manage Microsoft products, but its not needed once you step out of the world.
      • No problem

        To join Lion machines to ad. We do so and it suits our needs. Things like accessing file shares, which indeed can be achieved without a domain join, but at slightly more effort.

        I do wonder about your POS machines being moved out of AD and be locked down. Not running Windows updates on them (which incidentially doesn't require AD membership) might only be a good idea if these machines are not connected to the network, but they being POS machines, that is not likely to happen.
      • @Jeves

        Yes, what you are saying does make sense in your environment. I used to work field servicing retail and it didn't even enter my head the machines in your environment would be POS terminals! Been a corporate jockey too long methinks! :)

        I apologise.
      • How about file sharing and *real* ownership of your files

        I know in this day and age of cloud storage and facebooking everything this may seem strange, but most companies (?all?) have data that is PRIVATE and perhaps they are even legally (HIPAA/HITECH) obligated to protect it. Having your endpoint systems dangle out there in LALA land without being bound to some kind of secure network and sharing files through ICLOUD and other such services IS.NOT.SECURE. This is clearly spelled out in every implementation of secure computing standards. You don't know physically where the data is, and 18 months later you won't even know the name of the company that actually hosts the data (Alibaba in China, perhaps?) after they buy/sell themselves to this company and that server farm. Cloud services have still not fixed these basic problems - and guess what, noone's even talking about this issue. It's not in the news, it's not on the government's agenda, and it certainly isn't on the agenda for cloud providers.

        By preaching this nonsense about Macs not needing to be on an AD infrastructure, you're really going back to the 80's in terms of *basic* network security. Might as well log into the local Barnes & Noble cafe and hope noone is interested in your Itunes account credentials.....?!!?
      • your idea of "locking down"

        the 4200 windows machines so that even patches don't need to be installed is... flawed. Unless you're also eliminating basic IO such as the machines being on a network too.
      • contrary to popular opinion...

        It's not cool to have to manage multiple forms of enterprise management. More systems to manage = more time spent = the need to hire more administrative staff, and for what? So people can use devices that lack support for most of the industry standards, don't play well with systems that aren't explicitly engineered to work with them and don't perform as well as the equivalent PC hardware, but cost twice as much?

        What's next, you're going to suggest a massive RBAC installation to manage all that LDAP integration?
      • there is only one reason Sun ended up so badly

        unlike Steve Jobs, Scott McNealy is nether a leader nor a visionary.
    • SGI received MS Kiss of death

      From there they never recovered.
      Sun strategy purely revolved around corporations, internet & expensive gear. linux ate their lunch. From another point, Sun is among the top 6 most influential companies in IT, think java, Mysql, Solaris, OpenOffice, Spark, server line,etc.
      • Both Sun and SGI targeted the consumer, like Apple

        Sun and SGI went to the engineers and scientists directly who, in turn, sold their organization on their products. Sun was an influential company, as is Apple. However, Sun is now functionally dead as a wholly owned subsidiary of Oracle. Like Apple, their innovation met the needs of a small group of people with no significant growth potential out of their limited demographic. The people who bought the ipad 2 were predominantly the same people who bought the original ipad.
        Your Non Advocate
      • @facebook@..., How strange then...

        that Microsoft and Nokia are collectively chewing away on their fingernails because this far both Nokia and Microsoft have been failures in the smartphone market, while the Mac sales is breaking new records again and again.

        The only true winner here is Apple and us, users, no matter how much in denial you'd like to be, because the Microsoft PC platform has sucked for decades and I expect their Windows phone to be no better.
      • Not terribly strange at all

        @Mikael_z I did not state that their products are bad. However, Joe McKendrick is making the specious argument that Enterprise adoption of Apple products is on the rise. There is no evidence of that.
        Your Non Advocate
      • RE: Not terribly strange at all


        You say: "Enterprise adoption of Apple products is on the rise. There is no evidence of that.". Be careful when you make generalizations. I work for one of the largest enterprise software companies in the world. Not only are Apple products used widely in our enterprise, but also in the companies who buy our enterprise software. Your statement is probably based on your personal experiences where you work, but your company is not the only ruler by which the adoption of Apple products is measured.
    • Also

      Apple does not R&D, engineer or manufacture anything themselves.
      They are in all intents and purposes a creative marketing firm.
      The OS is there one gold star, Based on BSD Unix and the Mach kernel. Includes the CLI as well as protected memory, dynamic memory allocation, preemptive multi-tasking, application multi-threading, symmetric multi-processing, and open standards networking.
      • Apple R&D


        Apples dose do its own R&D for all of its products including its A whatever chips. Apple engineers their products and has someone else build them.