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Apple Forcing IT Shops To 'Adapt Or Die' 715

Posted by Soulskill
from the techno-industrial-darwinism dept.
alphadogg writes "Many IT departments are struggling with Apple's 'take it or leave it' attitude, based on discussions last week at MacIT, which is Macworld|iWorld's companion conference for IT professionals. Much of the questioning following technical presentations wasn't about Apple technology or products. It was about the complexities and confusions of trying to sort out for the enterprise Apple's practices. Those practices include the use of Apple IDs and iTunes accounts, which are designed for individual Mac or iPad or iPhone users, and programs like Apple's Volume Purchase Program, which, according to Apple 'makes it simple to find, buy, and distribute the apps your business needs' and to buy custom, third-party B2B apps."
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Apple Forcing IT Shops To 'Adapt Or Die'

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  • what does (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @08:29PM (#38884619)

    an iTunes account have to do with the business workplace and enterprise computing - no iTunes on company computers - problem solved!

    • Re:what does (Score:5, Informative)

      by icebike (68054) * on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @09:03PM (#38885115)

      Well the fanboys will mod you down for that.

      But you are correct, itunes has no place on a corporate machine. And quite frankly the idea you need a music player to manage a phone is like saying you need a fish to manage your bicycle.

      Itunes can be placed on the users home machine. Its not at all certain you can SECURELY accommodate iPhones in the work place AND prevent itunes from being installed. However there is an Apple iPhone Configuration utility [apple.com] that is supposed to do this.

      I have yet to see it in use anywhere, but some claim you can use on the corporate network and still block itunes on corporate machines.

      • Re:what does (Score:4, Insightful)

        by medcalf (68293) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @09:37PM (#38885469) Homepage
        Well, you no longer need iTunes to manage current iDevices, but the point is basically valid nonetheless. iTunes is a horrible thing these days. It needs to be split into a server to manage data, and several different clients to do the other things iTunes is used for. iTunes currently incorporates media library management, several stores, two music players (the normal one and the DJ mode), a movie player, device backup and synchronization, device configuration management, courseware management and delivery, media ripper/burner, media server (home sharing), music and app discovery services (Genius), a podcast client, an internet radio client and — if you can believe this — even a screensaver. What could be five or six really nice, clean apps has become instead a singular bloated monstrosity. I don't know why Apple puts up with that, since it goes so much against their philosophy in nearly everything else.
        • Re:what does (Score:5, Insightful)

          by icebike (68054) * on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @09:45PM (#38885531)

          I fully agree with you. Itunes is an abomination.
          Apple makes good hardware.

          But iTunes is an utter embarrassment to the company. The programming staff should all be fired. I've never seen such an ill behaved piece of software. They make Adobe look like wizards.

  • by sunderland56 (621843) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @08:30PM (#38884633)
    Apple is still a niche player. IT shops can easily buy elsewhere, and bring in policies that lock out employee-owned devices. How is this a good business model for Apple?
    • by blahbooboo (839709) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @08:33PM (#38884683)

      You forgot something, eventually IT shops have to do what their users want...

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Not in regulated environments, they don't. Users who try to do what they want in those environments can find themselves being escorted out of the building by security with their last paycheck and a promise to have their belongings shipped to them in hand.

        • by DrgnDancer (137700) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @09:38PM (#38885483) Homepage

          Um... so define "regulated". Until five months ago I worked for a Federal Government Contractor, held a security clearance, and did work day to day on classified machines. My workplace was piloting the use of iPhones for e-mail and corporate access when I left. Of course you couldn't put classified information on them, but you couldn't put classified information laptops either, so that's not saying much. There's all kinds of rules for what you can and can't do regarding classified, but for unclassified uses, iPhones are likely as common as Blackberries and laptops there now.

          My brother works for a hospital. Out side of the government, probably the most regulated industry in the country. He has a work issued iPad. Again, it's not allowed to contain patient information but neither are any other phones or portable devices that leave the hospital. I currently work for an international security company. We use iPhones for e-mail and corporate messaging.

          Indeed, the only "regulated" industry that I can't claim at least some insider knowledge of is finance, so maybe that the one you're thinking of... Otherwise "regulated industry" is caving to user desire to use iDevices and Android in the workplace.

        • by lpp (115405) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @09:57PM (#38885659) Homepage Journal

          I think the point is that the King User (i.e. CTO), if they become an Apple user, will dictate that the IT shop *will* support Apple products.

      • by jaymz666 (34050)

        You forgot something, eventually Apple will have to do what their users in IT want

        • by Marillion (33728)

          Exactly. IT organizations are tolerated in organizations because the company wants the benefits that information technology gives them. Businesses accept that there is a need for controls and policies to protect the organization from malicious use of technology and that these policies are a classic trade-off between risk and productivity value. Of course each organization has different tolerance for risk and different expectations for value. But at the end of the day, if an IT organization fails to deliver

      • by JAlexoi (1085785) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @08:40PM (#38884759) Homepage
        No... IT shops have to do what their users need. If you did everything what your users wanted, you'd never get off the support line.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mjwx (966435)

          No... IT shops have to do what their users need. If you did everything what your users wanted, you'd never get off the support line.

          Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

          Spoken like someone who has never worked in tech support.

          IT has to enable the company to make money, not pander to the user. We report to our boss, not yours, this includes every time a user refuses to do something we tell them to do.

          If you dont understand you work for the companies interest, not the users interest you will get off t

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        > You forgot something, eventually IT shops have to do what their users want...

        No they don't.

        You have very strange ideas about corporate IT.

    • by mjwx (966435) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @09:12PM (#38885205)

      Apple is still a niche player. IT shops can easily buy elsewhere, and bring in policies that lock out employee-owned devices. How is this a good business model for Apple?

      Apple is not a player in business and enterprise period and it's far too easy to buy elsewhere.

      Apple products get met with one word from my department, unsupported.

      When a user complains about not being able to use their Macbook because it cant log into half the systems we use the problem is theirs because the platform is unsupported. Having done mac support before, I'll quit before having to touch another mac. Mac solutions came in three types, 50% of the time it cant be done, 40% of the time it's a hack, 10% the feature was there but so poorly implemented it's still a pain to use let alone administer. Support was a pain, it took those "geniuses" at Apple a week to fix a blown PSU in an Imac, they didn't do collect and return let alone the on site next business day support I got from Dell, Lenovo, IBM and Toshiba. Worse yet are the users, when a virus makes it onto the network, most of the time it came from a Mac user forwarding Adobe_CS3_Crack.exe to someone.

      So I have a very long list of reasons why Apple products are on the unsupported list.

    • by Swampash (1131503) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @12:28AM (#38886999)

      Apple is still a niche player.

      Yes it is, so long as your definition of "niche player" is "the biggest maker of PCs in the world".

      http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/30/apple-becomes-worlds-biggest-maker-of-computers-thanks-to-ipad/ [nytimes.com]

  • apple does not have real server hardware at least come at least let sever run in a VM on any base hardware.

    The mini sever lacks alot of stuff a real sever has and the mac pro lacks some of the same stuff as well + it's a very poor fit.

  • by msobkow (48369) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @08:31PM (#38884665) Homepage Journal

    "Stop thinking of software as an asset, and start thinking of it as you think about paper and pens," White said. Astonishingly, he then added, "It may require huge changes in your accounting procedures."

    So you think because a few million people run Apps that the entire corporate infrastructure, the existing mainframe, unix, windows, and linux systems, and EVERYTHING ELSE is going to change to make ROOM for Apple in the enterprise?

    Sir, you SERIOUSLY underestimate your importance to North American enterprises. Even Microsoft isn't that ignorant of their REAL place in the IT industry.

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      "Stop thinking of software as an asset, and start thinking of it as you think about paper and pens," White said. Astonishingly, he then added, "It may require huge changes in your accounting procedures."

      So you think because a few million people run Apps that the entire corporate infrastructure, the existing mainframe, unix, windows, and linux systems, and EVERYTHING ELSE is going to change to make ROOM for Apple in the enterprise?

      Sir, you SERIOUSLY underestimate your importance to North American enterprises. Even Microsoft isn't that ignorant of their REAL place in the IT industry.

      I think the iPhone has an app for Enterprise Payroll...

      j/k

    • by ATMAvatar (648864) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @08:50PM (#38884941) Journal

      Funny story - the president of my company recently got an iPhone 4. For convenience, he decided he wanted to set it up to work with his BMW for hands-free use. Sounds simple, right?

      I suppose with any other phone, it would have been. He found out that he would have to update the firmware on his car's computer systems (yes, plural - 16, in fact!). Not to be deterred by this, he had the dealer go ahead and apply the updates. In the end, they bricked his car trying to get it to inter-operate with his phone.

      • I don't doubt your anecdote at all. But the idea that other phones are in general easier to get working in a car is ridiculous. Either it's going to be a generic fit, and that's going to fit any phone,including the iPhone, just as easily. Or it's going to be a proprietary fit, and that's going to be for the iPhone.

  • by ackthpt (218170) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @08:33PM (#38884695) Homepage Journal

    Back in the 1980's they failed to come to grips with what Business Users expected of a PC - thus Microsoft's fortunes were made.

    Repeat?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by blahbooboo (839709)

      No. Users are the ones forcing the draconian policies of IT shops to change. iPhone, then iPads are being made "exceptions" to established policies because IT shops can't say no to the huge onslaught of demand. People have suffered under corporate IT policies that make desktops/laptops agonizing tools to use and inhibit productivity.

      • by JAlexoi (1085785)
        I'm sorry, there is productivity and there is "Me want to play Farmville/whatever".
        There has to be 2 tiers of IT policies - developers and users. Developers can manage themselves. Users have to be told that iTunes is not an option.
    • by greg1104 (461138) <gsmith@gregsmith.com> on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @09:27PM (#38885353) Homepage

      Apple's struggles in the mid 80's were on a couple of fronts. They didn't have a compelling set of business software, and botched the launch of the Macintosh Office [wikipedia.org] with everything from slow availability to a terrible ad campaign. The Apple ][ and Mac divisions fought each other internally. And they built more expensive computers and demanded higher margins on them than their competitors, during a period where there was a massive price shake-out in the home computing market. The fundamental issue wasn't ignorance of what business users expected. It was failure to execute on delivering it, which went from product strategy mistakes to massive inventory mismanagement. John Sculley's "Odyssey" covers this period of Apple's history closely. The tried to win over the business market but just didn't do a very good job of it.

      Nowadays, Apple is selling to consumers in droves and doesn't care at all about whatever traditional business IT departments want. They're not trying and failing this time; they're not even trying. The demand is coming up from individual people and pushing toward IT. In the 80's, there just wasn't enough demand to offset their production and R&D overhead.

  • Leave It (Score:4, Informative)

    by The Joe Kewl (532609) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @08:40PM (#38884765)

    "Take it or Leave it"?

    I would choose to leave it. Apple products, while "cool" and "neat" for the individual user, don't often work well in large enterprise environments.
    This is just a fact of life.
    Until better management tools are made to "manage" the apple devices / environment, they will still be a secondary (or greater) choice for enterprise environments.

    • Re:Leave It (Score:4, Informative)

      by Ayanami_R (1725178) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @09:04PM (#38885117)

      They have pretty much lost the school system I work for with this rigid, we know better attitude. All administrators are on the lenovo tablet now. Supports AD and computrace right out of the box. Management tools are robust and support windows environments. We're ramping up to put tablet products on the schedule for students, it'll probably be the lenovo k1 ( or its upgrade) by then.

      We had a school get 38 kindle fires, didn't ask IT of course. When we described the hell they would have to go through to manage and actually buy anything on them they were hastily returned, except the 1 that was opened. They were shocked that no, you cant buy stuff for all of them at once. Yes, you'll ned 38 different email addresses. No, if they get stolen they are gone and there is jack we can do to get them back.

    • by joh (27088) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @09:09PM (#38885179)

      Until better management tools are made to "manage" the apple devices / environment, they will still be a secondary (or greater) choice for enterprise environments.

      While I agree that Apple is very much sitting on its hands here, there is no way to ignore iDevices. It's almost like an "Occupy IT" movement. And the users are relishing our squirming and cursing. And while I'm an sysadmin myself, I'd almost say we deserve it to be on the receiving end this time. It's a comically reversed situation to how it usually works: Users are requiring simple things, you know they aren't that simple and you can't do anything really but learn and work and adapt and curse. Wow, that *hurts*. *They* are the ones who traditionally had to swallow what we rained down on them.

      Now *they* are smug and wave their iPads ("it just works") and we have to find a way to make them work and to manage them. How unfair is this? Now *we* are clicking through iTunes for *them*! What goes around comes around, really.

      • by Dan541 (1032000)

        If it's corporate IT then employee owned devices should be banned from the network.

    • Re:Leave It (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @09:51PM (#38885581)

      Sorry, don't buy this. Not one bit.

      I am an engineer at a large technical government entity. Apples -- both Macs and iPhones, and recently iPads as well -- are ubiquitous. At least 30% of direct employees use Macs, and more use iPhones.

      IT has Apple specialists, but they handle the approximately 200-1,000 Macs out of 500-5,000 computer seats without fuss or complaint at each one of our centers.

      I'm sorry, but in the end IT is there to help the engineers and managers do their jobs. While it's true that it would be impossible for those engineers and managers to function properly without IT support, the purpose of that support is to enable their work. If I as an engineer want a Mac, I will order a Mac from the online ordering system. If it breaks, I am going to call IT and ask them to please fix it. They will fix it, because it's why they're paid.

      What's more is that this was true ten years ago at my agency when I first started. I've seen chief engineers of billion dollar projects at meetings making fun of the few non-mac people around the table...quite a sight to see.

    • Re:Leave It (Score:4, Insightful)

      by maccodemonkey (1438585) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @10:48PM (#38886121)

      I'd like to know what you think the better alternative is. Apple currently ships the best Activesync compatible phone on the market, better than even Windows Phone 7. Android has barely started to ship something reasonable in ICS.

      So if Apple products don't work well, what kind of smart phones are you going to be deploying?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @08:41PM (#38884783)

    Apple markets their devices to consumers first, and they provide enough support for businesses so their stuff is accepted. This is why Apple paid Microsoft and licensed the ActiveSync protocol, so their devices would get past the corporate blood/brain barrier (which before that, only Blackberries and Windows Mobile devices could cross.)

    It is just not in Apple's model to do that much for the enterprise. The XServe did not sell well so it got pulled. Same with Apple's SAN hardware. Even the old Mac Pro doesn't seem to be selling well, and has not gotten a refresh in a long time.

    Apple knows that it makes its bread and butter selling to the dedicated fans who have been camping out for days at their stores for the latest iGadget. They know that trying to pitch to the enterprise will have a "meh" response at best.

    Another example of this is how Apple handles product releases. As an IT person, I can sign a NDA in blood, and get a roadmap from IBM or Oracle about what they plan to do for future products, when to make sure funds are available for model refreshes, and timing budget constraints. Apple doesn't offer this. There is no way to time when to have funds ready for a product refresh when it comes to Macs or iDevices.

    [1]: Ideally, Apple would make a Mac Pro case that could work as a tower, but also fit horizontally into a rack with just a simple drawer style mounting kit (similar to the venerable Ultra 450s.)

    • by cmholm (69081) <cmholm&mauiholm,org> on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @11:04PM (#38886243) Homepage Journal

      Abstract: Apple is making boatloads of money selling stuff to people. Reconfiguring the company into an enterprise services firm is an unacceptable risk.

      'Waaaay back in the day, I was invited to an Apple roadmap presentation for the various big Mac users in the greater LA area (mainly aerospace corps). Dating myself, the main heads up was the upcoming Mac IIfx. The current sealed lips paradigm wasn't always graven in stone.

      But, that was before Windows 95 almost ate Apple's lunch, and Macs got kicked to the curb across "the enterprise"... almost simultaneously across North America. Almost as quickly, the ecosystem of Mac-related enterprise solution vendors ditched the platform. When Jobs returned to refocus the company's direction, the focus was on what he had left to work with: consumers (with bones thrown to graphics/video/audio pros). You could see this in his original product mix: iMac, iBook, the restyled G4 mini-towers, and eventually the iPod.

      This ended up working so well that quite a few consumers really wanted to haul their Apple gear back to the enterprise... which is how Apple first got there, one MacPlus at a time. Now, with the iPhones and Pads, people aren't just sneaking their toys in, they're putting in purchase orders, and the IT departments are forced to adjust.

      It's not completely unreasonable for them to ask Apple to rework their products to make this a bit easier. It may happen, but I wouldn't hold my breath: Apple isn't equipped to service the enterprise, and doesn't want to spend the money to make it happen. The boys and girls in Cupertino would need to spend tens, perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars to set up the hardware/software/people infrastructure - more or less from scratch - to provide reasonable enterprise marketing and support.

      And why? There's not all that much profit in selling to the enterprise, except in services. Virtually *all* of the non-Asian computer vendors have reconfigured themselves into enterprise services companies that just happened to sell some hardware/software for them to integrate, and the Asian companies are on the same path.

      Apple, meanwhile, is making a boatload of money selling hardware/software to people. There is plenty of foreseeable risk and little known upside to reengineering themselves into the likes of IBM/HP/Dell.

  • It is a hassle... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Uncle_Meataxe (702474) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @08:48PM (#38884905)

    Recently I had to deal with Apple's App Store. Our agency's purchasing people had no idea how to handle the App Store as the purchase has to be done from the user's computer. I spoke with an Apple government rep and he admitted that things are not set up for companies unless you're buying at least 30 (?) of something. Our purchasing folks ended up giving me the department credit card (now, there's trust!) and let me make the purchase from my cubicle. Not that hard to deal with, but certainly not standard procedure...

  • by medcalf (68293) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @09:24PM (#38885331) Homepage

    First, let me point out that Apple's model isn't even a fantastic fit for a family, using my own experience. In order to buy music through iTunes, which we do a fair bit of, we need an AppleID. For all the convenience features (like automatically downloading music that any of us buys, for instance), we have to use the same AppleID on all the computers/devices that we use for storing the music, listening to it, or loading it on the phones/iPods/etc. And even with iCloud, this works reasonably smoothly, because you can set one AppleID for your music and another for everything else, so that you can still share music but not, say, email.

    OK, but that means that our playlists are shared (which we can deal with by using folders for our individual playlists), but so is the metadata. Mostly, that's a good thing, but what if my wife and I and my sons want to all rate the same song differently? Out of luck: the rating is shared. I could go on about what should be shared and what shouldn't, but the point is that Apple does not make it easy to share some things and not others even within a family. I imagine that trying to work AppleIDs and iDevices into an enterprise must be quite the nightmare from that point of view.

    There are solutions to some such problems, and certainly different IT shops have different ways of doing things, which means that for some (including my current one), it's easy while for others it's a complete nightmare. Fundamentally, if you have an IT shop where integrating is easy, there's little reason not to do it. If you'd need Apple servers, or more control over devices (say, if you're regulated, or a government entity), then you're probably out of luck and should tell users — yes, even users like the C-level types — that they're welcome to use whatever they want, but IT cannot support it.

    In some cases, this means that IT shops as we are used to them will have to dramatically change to accommodate their users. And in some cases, it means that the users will have to live with the restrictions. I can see some shops moving to a model where internal users are treated like external users, except that they have access to different resources through their (untrusted) network connection to the servers. VPNs would be unnecessary: just connect to resources directly over the network, "local" or remote, and be done with it. In other words, I could see some shops moving to a model that protects the data, but not the desktop. But I think other shops will likely have to dig in their heels, not because they want to be difficult, but because they cannot allow the kinds of practices that Apple would require. (Think of trying to manage a bank's customer data when you couldn't properly audit the machines used to access that data, and then think of trying to explain that to a bureaucrat.)

    But in the end, I think that the general purpose computer in a decade or so will be far less common than today. Thin client devices, tablets and the like will replace a lot of computers simply because of cost, maintenance, training and business utility advantages intrinsic to the types. And that means that IT shops will lose a lot of the control that they have now over the user experience. They'll still keep control of the centralized data stores, certainly, but that may be the extent of it for a lot of shops. And that's not necessarily a bad thing: in truth, how many users really need something as powerful and flexible as a laptop? Maybe 10% — maybe? Well, why not make things cheaper and easier for the other 90%, even if it does make IT's job harder in some ways?

    • by greg1104 (461138)

      The sort of problems companies are running into with the "IT can't support that" mindset are the myriad back-door ways to get devices running. IT won't let your iPhone on the network due to wireless security issues? Plug your own Wi-Fi router into the wired network port at your desk, have the phone connect to that network through that instead. It's not just that people are showing up at work with their iDevices. Home users are now exposed to enough networking trivia that they feel (rightly) that they ca

  • by wrencherd (865833) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @09:33PM (#38885439)
    Right now, Apple-(and Steve Jobs-)bashing seems to have the fashionable appeal of . . . well, of a new iPhone or iPad.
  • Apple's philosophy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @10:39PM (#38886045)
    Apple's philosophy is that they control the devices they sell. Enterprise customers insist that the enterprise control all of the devices on their network. Apple refuses to design/sell devices that they do not have control over. This is an irresolvable conflict.
  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @10:53AM (#38891193)

    I don't get it. Most IT shops won't touch Apple, and those shops are doing fine. I have worked in IT for over 30 years. I have never seen Apple having much clout in enterprize level IT, and I still don't.

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