Apple Enterprise: Is the Sky Falling? 

Al Shipp, Apple’s senior vice president of enterprise sales is retiring, and isn’t being replaced. Lots of people have cried out that Apple is moving away from enterprise-level hardware and software. Macworld’s John Welch:

But honestly, every time I see that meme go around, I have to wonder why people would think that. Apple has never been an enterprise company, even when it had one of its Pre-Return Of Steve “Apple in the Enterprise” spasms. The company has less clue of how to be an Enterprise company than IBM had about selling computers to home users.

I agree. Working in the professional-level Apple support world, I can tell you that Apple is not an enterprise-minded company. Take any OS X Server guy out for a beer and he will tell you the woes of modern-Mac deployment. Don’t get me wrong, Apple’s server-end stuff is good, but it’s not the company’s focus. The consumer-level products are. iMacs and iPhones sell like hotcakes, so they get the attention. When’s the last time you heard someone boasting about their new Xserve? Just look at the company’s retail model – no server action anywhere in the Stores. The Genius Bar is designed to take care of the individual, but leaves the business customer and the school administrator stranded when they need repairs on 10 machines, and needs them quickly.

Welch goes on to make the biggest point of all:

The company literally makes a living out of surprising people, of ignoring common wisdom for something different and usually better. That’s been a fantastic business model for Apple, but would it work for an enterprise company? If Microsoft tried that, its big customers would be attacking Redmond with torches and pitchforks.

Here’s the simple truth: Enterprise hates surprises. It’s not what they want. Enterprise wants predictability. They want to know when, what, how much, and that it will be all new and cool, yet change nothing. (Yes that’s contradictory. Have you ever tried to use “Enterprise Software?” Winning usability awards is so not happening there.) And they want to know everything in detail a year ahead of time. Can anyone seriously imagine how long Apple would survive under that model? Right, not long.

System updates, new hardware, software patches and security fixes all have to be carefully implemented if you’re working large-scale, and that takes planning. Something that Apple doesn’t get.

The future of Apple Enterprise is still bright. They sell great hardware, and their server OS is great (for the most part). It’s not going anywhere, but don’t expect it to grow too much.