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1/16/2013
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Why Apple Is IT's Arch Frenemy

Apple devices are supported in nine out of 10 companies, our research finds, but IT needs ways to manage them more efficiently and securely.

Our Apple Outlook Survey is decisive: More than 90% of the 331 IT decision-makers that we surveyed either already support iPhones and iPads or have plans to do so. Even more surprising is that more than 80% support or plan to support Mac laptops and desktops. The kind of sea change that represents can't be overstated -- not that long ago Apple's presence in the enterprise, outside of a few core markets, was negligible.

But is IT really on board or just bowing to pressure from users enamored of their iDevices? Judging by the mostly negative comments from the laptop, desktop and mobile device decision-makers who responded to the InformationWeek survey, there's reason to believe IT would like nothing more than to go back to the days of top-down hardware purchasing.

"Apple products are nice, but they are not really suited to the enterprise because we have no means of ensuring their security," says one respondent. "Apple is slow to release security updates for known exploits. Their products are fine for home use and small business, but they have an outdated approach to security that is not really acceptable for Fortune 500 companies."

Until Apple can offer competitive management functionality, including complete integration with Active Directory, Group Policy and Exchange, "they will not be an IT enterprise 'go-to' solution," an IT director at a healthcare company says.

That attitude also shows up in the data center. When Apple abruptly killed its well-regarded Xserve rack-mount server line two years ago, IT pros saw it as one more bit of proof that Apple isn't a reliable enterprise partner. And not a whole lot has changed since.

Our survey underscores that IT still isn't enthusiastic about having Apple gear in the data center. No surprise that 64% of the IT decision-maker respondents have no Apple servers even though Apple still sells a server OS and server configurations for its Mac Pro and Mac Mini lines.

Apple appears to be "abandoning its long-term customers in an effort to jump with both feet into the mobile and tablet market, and we have had to re-evaluate our long-term plans for hardware and software accordingly," says a higher-education services coordinator. Apple's new software is "amateur" compared with previous offerings, he says, noting that Apple is changing its operating system to look and work like iOS. "It truly adds insult to injury after having gone 'against the current' championing them for so long," he says.

chart: What are your IT organization's top gripes with Apple products?

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golf25radioman
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golf25radioman,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/22/2013 | 7:54:48 PM
re: Why Apple Is IT's Arch Frenemy
Is it really Apple products' susceptibility to security issues or IT managers not wanting to work their current (most likely Windows based) systems to work with them? My experience with Apple products (hardware/software) is that third party security for them is quite robust and always current to any threats. As to Apple's OS security, sometimes vulnerability is from third party integration - i.e. the Java (Sun) current issue. And on the mobile devices, Apple chose not to allow Flash content for that reason, frequent vulnerabilities and their slow response to patches. Would these IT managers be waiting for the Surface Pro to become real and easier to integrate into their existing systems? Just a few things that came to my mind as I read the story.
jjohnson551
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jjohnson551,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/22/2013 | 9:40:16 PM
re: Why Apple Is IT's Arch Frenemy
It isn't that they aren't nice products and have nice user software for them. It is the lack of CENTRAL management for thousands of devices. With PC's we can remotely install software, configure the anti-virus, lock down file shares, configure the browser setting, install security certificates, etc. With Mac's it is configure your Mac, walk over to next Mac start over.
dgoodwin
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dgoodwin,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/24/2013 | 3:37:21 PM
re: Why Apple Is IT's Arch Frenemy
Let me suggest that the entire concept of centralized management is under assault by BYOD and we could be in the early stages of a shift to a new paradigm.
jmmxx
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jmmxx,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/5/2013 | 1:08:31 PM
re: Why Apple Is IT's Arch Frenemy
"One example is Apple's arm-twisting of AT&T and other telecom carriers to change their business models to accommodate the iPhone."

This, however, has been a benefit for the USERS. The iPhone remains the ONLY OS that never has any carrier-installed crapware.
jmmxx
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jmmxx,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/5/2013 | 1:20:11 PM
re: Why Apple Is IT's Arch Frenemy
One of the problems here is that many IT people are dead set against Apple products. This frequently goes to fanatical extreme as you still hear some people referring to Macs as "toys."

Let's face it, these people (or their companies) have 10s of thousands of dollars invested in MS training. They hear a constant barrage of anti-Apple propaganda. Therefore, any perceived problem or issue, is exaggerated. This is normal human behavior.

In the end, IT has no real interest in long term costs and harp incessantly on the buy-in costs. Almost all studies on the topic have shown that Mac Total Cost of Ownership is a fraction of that of Windows PCs. This is mainly because the Mac support and training costs are a fraction that of MS PCs. This is pretty much a fact that IT personnel ignore.

For example, I know a small business with about 8 Macs. Since they set up 15 years ago, aside from some FileMaker Pro database support, they have not had to hire a professional IT person once! One of the workers handles OS and software upgrades. He can do this without any significant adjustment to his normal work.

Additionally, the lifetime of Macs and their resale value are way above that of most PCs.

These, however, are not issues that most IT pros care to discuss.
TreeInMyCube
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TreeInMyCube,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/5/2013 | 8:53:09 PM
re: Why Apple Is IT's Arch Frenemy
You're missing a key point -- scale. I believe that many small or medium sized businesses could replicate the experience of your small business story. But this article (note the recent large client, for whom the author consulted) is aimed at large businesses, which have data centers and hundreds or thousands of desktops/laptops. If the scalability of Apple's management tools is less than satisfactory, that will matter a lot more to large enterprises than a small enterprise "with about 8 Macs."
Having said that, I will agree that many IT pros in large enterprises have less firsthand experience with MacOS systems. Both my daughters elected to take Macs to college, but my experience with their systems is secondhand. More to the point, my experience with 2 Macs at home doesn't inform my decisions/recommendations concerning 1000s of systems that my colleagues are supporting at work.
bluscarab
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bluscarab,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/15/2013 | 11:37:33 PM
re: Why Apple Is IT's Arch Frenemy
Thats not the point the author was trying to make. The point is that if Apple ever...EVER tries to twist my enterprise's global arms...the deal's off baby. I never do business with tyrants - only with optimists and people that have a "can-do" attitude. Apple devices are the epitomy of "cannot-do".
bluscarab
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bluscarab,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/15/2013 | 11:46:57 PM
re: Why Apple Is IT's Arch Frenemy
8 macs huh? We run a global enterprise with over 90,000 pc's in 13 different languages whose various duties are anything from connecting point-of-sales to large inventory systems to providing logistics for armed forces around the world and many international air traffic control towers. There is no way you can sanely compare 8 macs to a global operation that runs the world's economies of scale.

But I'd like to point out the most important point that the author missed: Apple makes abandonware...

...and this is fatal to most enterprises - even for those with only 8 users.
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