Can the Channel Field the Apple Opportunity?
One thing solution providers are going to see a lot more of in 2014 is devices from Apple in their customer accounts. In the United States at least, Apple still dominates the consumer agenda. One way or another, a huge percentage of those devices, especially Apple iPads, are going to find their way into the office.
Of course, once devices such as the iPad make it into the office, it's not long before organizations start seeing more Apple Macintoshes, as well. In fact, one interesting thing about the iPad is that it's starting to pull Macintosh sales behind it.
Regardless of who actually owns the device, internal IT organizations and managed service providers are being asked to manage these devices. However, most of the IT management frameworks in place have been optimized for Windows environments. Trying to use those platforms to manage Apple devices is similar to asking a person who is right-handed to play first base using a mitt designed for a left-hander. It can be done; it's just not natural.
Some 4,000 organizations have already figured that out, which is why they opted to deploy a Casper Suite of management tools from JAMF Software that are designed to manage Apple systems. They are not replacing their Windows management frameworks. They are just realizing that it's easier to manage Apple systems using a management framework designed specifically for those types of systems. Information is then exchanged between Casper and various Windows management frameworks via a series of plug-ins for platforms such as Symantec Altiris.
The parent company of JAMF recently picked up an additional $30 million in funding, which JAMF CEO Chip Pearson said will help fund product development and expand the company's overall go-to-market strategy.
All told, JAMF claims to have more than 2.8 million Apple devices under management. In 2014, that number is likely to increase. In fact, the only thing that is uncertain is the degree to which the channel will actually profit from the opportunity to build devices or manage their apps.
Michael Vizard has been covering IT issues in the enterprise for 25 years as an editor and columnist for publications such as InfoWorld, eWEEK, Baseline, CRN, ComputerWorld and Digital Review.