Once upon a midday bleary, while I pondered, posts of query,
Over a single quaint and curious button of foreshadowed advice –
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my data center door –
"'Tis some inquisitor," I muttered, "tapping on my Apple device –
Only this and nothing more."*
Apple has always focused on the consumer and it remains so today. But, will Apple be able to stay out of the data center? No, not by choice, they won't. As fast as Apple can manufacture them, iPhones and iPads are beginning to pierce corporate walls. It won't be long until Apple products become standard fare in meetings, in cubicles and in the data centers of the world's largest companies. Why? Functionality. Agility. Usability. Ubiquity. Economy.
Economy? Oh, yes, economy. Remember my discussions of 'bring your own device' in The Great Debate, The answer to the BYOD question is virtualization or BYOD: The inevitable reality?
Bringing your own Apple devices to work--and you know you own more than one--will be an extreme cost savings for companies of all sizes. And, as I've said before, why not use something that you like and that you're familiar with? Cost savings. Happy employees. Seems like a good fit to me.
But how does BYOD bring Apple into the data center?
What product now "ships" with every Apple device? If you said, "iCloud," you're correct. The iCloud service runs on server systems. Those server systems are in--wait for it--data centers. As Apple adoption grows in the corporate space, so will iCloud. Large companies will need a lot of space for documents, data, email, contacts and other files.
Do you see where this is going now?
If not, let me spare your brain cells. Enterprises will demand enterprise-level storage. Apple will have to supply it.
There are three ways that Apple could do this.
The first way is to have the standard Apple-branded iCloud services rendered from an Apple data center as it is now. The second, and more interesting way, is to have an Apple-branded private iCloud service that resides in corporate data centers. This means that your iCloud-based documents and data are completely separate from the millions of consumer iCloud user's data. Interesting? I think so.
Of course, the third option is to have a hybrid iCloud that stores your corporate data in your private iCloud and your personal data in the public iCloud via profiles. Profiles relate to the concept of virtualized devices and services on your physical devices. Your corporate profile would be separate and distinct from your personal one and never the twain shall meet. They would be partitioned off securely from one another.
Apple's core business will remain consumer-oriented but the consumers are going to be corporate consumers. That will change Apple. It will make Apple the most powerful technical company in the world.
If I were in any position to do so, I'd be taking an Apple executive to dinner to discuss the future of Apple in the enterprise and how I could get in on the wave through a partnership. Someone will need to build that private iCloud infrastructure. Someone will need to support it. And, someone will need to stay behind and count the money.
Apple is headed to the data centers of the world, whether they like it or not.
* First stanza from "The Maven" by Ken Hess.