Apple has reportedly struck a deal with Unisys to help expand its corporate and government footprint. Under the terms of the agreement, Unisys will provide maintenance and support for Apple products in use by those enterprises.
"Most of those organizations are still pretty heavily PC-based," Gene Zapfel, a managing partner at Unisys, told Bloomberg in an interview published Oct. 25. "Apple is going to crack the nut and clients are going to start buying a lot more."
Terms of the deal remain undisclosed, but Bloomberg indicated that Unisys will begin building more Apple apps for use by government agencies. Toughening the iPhone's security was another concern. "We've put a lot of heavyweight engineering into securing the device, which, frankly, no one else has figured out yet," Zapfel reportedly told the news service.
Unisys has a long history of providing IT services, hardware and software to government agencies and corporations. The company has also introduced ClearPath Cloud Solutions, a managed cloud-computing initiative that gives businesses access to the company's ClearPath mainframes.
But while mainframes and massive cloud-computing projects represent a substantial part of the enterprise IT equation, the growing use of consumer devices within businesses has become another point of concern for IT administrators. During a town hall discussion at last week's Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2010 in Orlando, a number of CIOs and other tech pros took the microphone to describe how iPads, Android smartphones and similar devices had flooded their organizations in recent months-sparking security and compatibility concerns.
"Employees and employers both agree-a Device and App Revolution exists although perceptions regarding extent of that revolution differ," reads a June report prepared by research firm IDC for Unisys. "Younger employees (iWorkers) not demanding change ... they are driving it [through] Consensus Usage (IT Shop and Corp liability issues be damned)."
That report suggests that around 50 percent of workplace devices are used in both personal and business contexts. "Data is freely mingled," it concludes, creating liabilities both in terms of security and personal data ("for example, inappropriate pictures"). In addition, a "disconnect" exists between employers and employees "regarding device/app usage and permissible activities."
Within that context, an agreement between Apple and Unisys seems mutually beneficial: Unisys can use Apple's expanding popularity among employees to make a stronger play in the personal-devices side of enterprise IT, even as Apple leverages the relationship to assuage security concerns and compel IT administrators to purchase more of its products for business use.