Apple getting serious about enterprise, SMB accounts

Apple is investing on its partner network, direct sales and support in an effort to take advantage of enterprise and small business interest in the iPad and iPhone.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Apple is investing on its partner network, direct sales and support in an effort to take advantage of enterprise and small business interest in the iPad and iPhone.

This week, Apple's iPod and Apple TV products dominated the headlines, but there are also a lot of emerging signs that Steve Jobs & Co. are showing enterprise gains.

Let's recap a few of the Apple enterprise highlights that were easy to overlook this week:
  • Deutsche Bank analyst Chris Whitmore said in a research note that Apple was increasing "efforts to drive greater penetration into Enterprise and SMB accounts."
  • Whitmore's research note was based on meeting with Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer and retail head Ron Johnson. These Apple execs noted that Apple is "increasing its investment in the VAR channel, direct sales capacity and Apple Care to support its enterprise goals."

  • As previously reported, the iPad is gaining real traction in the enterprise. Whitmore wrote:

Apple has been pleasantly surprised by the strength of iPad in Enterprise and seems to be benefiting from demand pull/halo effect of the iPad and iPhone with corporate customers. In addition, Apple is optimistic the large number of enterprise customer briefings it conducts will translate into additional corporate penetration.

  • IT pros are actively pondering the iPad as management tool. The scuttlebutt coming out of VMworld this week was that IT admins are talking about running their consoles off of iPads. Also: 10 free iPad apps for business (photos)

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    Vertical markets like healthcare are actively checking out the iPad. If you peruse Apple's enterprise support forums you find a bevy of enterprise topics. One key forum revolved around Citrix (right), the iPad and electronic medical records (EMRs). The iPad wasn't perfect in the hospital setting, but was largely seen as a replacement for tablet PCs and laptops. In any case, Apple is actively targeting doctors.

Here's one use case from Aug. 30:

I use iTap to remotely control my desktop computer (which is a iMac running Windows 7 under parallels) to allow access to my EMR, my hospital PACS (picture archiving and communications system) and hospital EMR. It (iPad) works great as tool for accessing information. Input is great if you are using templates. Keyboard typing is not as accurate but I usually go back and dictate the HPI in Dragon anyway. When I am out of the office and in the hospital, I use Logmein to access my desktop as our hospital Wifi does not allow VPN connection. Logmein uses encryption so it is HIPAA compliant. When I remote into my office computer, I have Parallels set as a bridged network. This allows me to access my Windows side of the computer without turning off the screen saver on the Mac side. That way anyone who might be sitting at my desk cannot see what I am doing. I am using eClincalWorks for my EMR.

Although our hospital has EPIC, the older Citrix Servers we have are not compatible with the iPad Citrix client so I have to still use remote access via Logmein to my desktop computer for the hospital EMR. It works fine over a Wifi network.

The nice thing about this setup is I can bring an XR image up as I am talking to my patients in the office or at the bedside. The battery life and portability of the iPad beats my Lenovo tablet and Dell laptop hands down.

Add it up and it's obvious that Apple is cranking up its interest in the enterprise. You'll just never hear about it.

Related: Forrester: Apple's iPhone, iPad secure enough for enterprises, but RIM rules security roost

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