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iPad for business? Just ten years ago the idea of a significant Apple computer presence in the enterprise would have been scoffed at and quickly brushed aside, but those days seem to be ending. More and more, employees are bringing their iPhones to work, requesting to work with Mac instead of Windows computers, and that is translating to more requests for the iPad as well.

It’s a trend that took even Apple CEO Steve Jobs by surprise.

“We’re already seeing tremendous interest in iPad from education, and much to my surprise, from business,” he told financial analysts during Apple’s most recent earnings call. “We haven’t pushed it real hard in business, and it’s being grabbed out of our hands.”

And to that end, Apple seems to be working to recruit Apple systems integrators. Milestone Technology, a Fremont, Calif.-based systems integrator is a case in point. The 800-person SI was contacted by Apple about a year ago and started in as an authorized reseller, service provider and systems integrator about six months ago, according to Jay Yu, vice president of technology at Milestone responsible for the Apple relationship. Milestone is one of about four SIs currently authorized by Apple, Yu said.

“The primary focus for us is about establishing parity in the enterprise between Mac and Windows,” Yu told Channel Insider, adding that Milestone is also a Microsoft partner.

It marks a sea change for the industry as the established client platform, Windows, is being pushed to the side of the desk to make room for Apple’s Mac. Yu reports that many of his client companies have changed the way they think about Apple platforms.

“They’ve shifted from thinking of Apple as a one-off product or project to thinking about how to make Apple platforms a regular part of their operating budget,” he said. “That signals a significant shift in how companies are thinking about it. They are asking themselves, how do we make it part of our regular infrastructure.”

Currently, Milestone is involved in about six engagements for Apple platform integration and is in talks with another 20 to 25 companies about Apple integration.  Apple has provided some leads to Milestone, and Milestone is also marketing the solutions to its existing customer base.

Milestone points out that half of Fortune 500 companies are currently looking to implement Apple platforms in the enterprise.  Why the interest now?