Is There Hope for Apple in the Enterprise?

Opinion: Apple needs to make a few changes if it wants to secure a place at the enterprise table.

We cant help it. We desperately want Apple to requite a little love. Just a tad would do.

We look at Apples latest moneybag quarter, with earnings of 54 cents per share, and we think: Ooooh! Second-best quarter ever! And as analysts credit the companys Intel strategy of coupling Mac notebooks with Core Duo processors, we think: Could be evidence of enterprise interest, here!

After all these years, is there finally hope for Apple in the enterprise? Apple has, in fact, been at least flirting with us, through products like its Xserve line of rack-mountable servers, its Xsan SAN (storage area network) file system and its WebObjects application framework.

We believe the enterprise platform mix would also be better off if it could adopt Apples Mac OS X operating system, which is equal to anything now used in the enterprise on many levels. But Apple, stubbornly hanging on to its need to control the user experience, creates meshed hardware and software systems that deprive businesses of the flexibility to find the best balance of hardware, operating system and applications for the job at hand. As Gartner analyst Michael Silver said, Apple does not support versions of OS X for security fixes for more than three years. In fact, Apple does not specify how long it supports them, thus exacerbating the problem that many businesses have with Apples lack of a transparent product road map.

Regardless, we like the technology for certain business applications, and Macs have a way of creeping into the enterprise, often through the back door.

But other than converting to the Intel chip set, Apple, youre just not committing to us in this relationship. If youre really serious about the enterprise, here are some suggestions: Work with your developer community to get mainstream and innovative solutions to your platform, and not just in a dual-boot environment; upgrade the PowerMac desktop Xserve server to the Intel chip set; port more solutions, beyond those used in universities large-scale computing grids, to your server platform; update the Xserve RAID to reflect new trends in storage management; and get yourself a sales team that contacts businesses. We hear from enterprises that havent been contacted by Apple representatives or even resellers in more than five years, while vendors such as Hewlett-Packard, Dell and IBM (Lenovo) are always banging on the door; and finally, start sharing future product road maps. No enterprise buyer can plan for the future without one.

Competition helps deliver to IT buyers better technology at better prices. Apples technology is good enough to merit a place at the enterprise table. But until you change your ways, Apple, youre bound to miss out on getting your chunk of a very profitable pie.

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eWeeks Editorial Board consists of Jason Brooks, Larry Dignan, Stan Gibson, Scot Petersen and Lisa Vaas.


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