Apple products boom in the enterprise despite lack of management tools

Firms face broader BYOD challenges

Apple's success in the enterprise market is still being held back by the perception that the platform is difficult to manage, a survey of US businesses by Apple specialist JAMF Software has found.

Although the firm only used a small sample of 309 IT staff from one country, the growing popularity of Apple's platform is probably not big news. Respondents reported that the number of Apple products - overwhelmingly iPhones and iPads - had doubled in the last three years with 68 percent reckoning that they now made up more than 10 percent of end user devices.

What seems to have driven this is the rise of BYOD under which user preferences rather than those of the IT department win out, with 78 percent citing that reason for the popularity increase. With the overwhelming majority predicting an increase in the Apple-using population in their organisation, BYOD appears to have broken the Microsoft monoculture once and for all.

But BYOD won't do it all. Six out ten planned to cope with this growth by self-educating, with the remainder receiving some formal training. Only 20 percent believed they had the management tools to support the growth in Apple products.

"Our survey findings show the majority of IT professionals expect to see more Apple in the enterprise," said David Gehringer, principal at Dimensional Research which carried out the survey.

"Today, nearly 20 percent of respondents say they already support 1,000 Apple devices or more. Organisations are asking IT teams to manage this situation, making scalability and efficiency critical when selecting an Apple device management solution."

JAMF's motivation in highlighting the lack of management tools is, of course, that it is one of a select few companies that sells products in this space. But arguably there are deeper processes at work; as Microsoft's grip has weakened to some extent, IT teams have had to manage not only Apple products but Android/Samsung, BlackBerry and Linux ones too.

This is inherently difficult to do without ending up with silos of management software, something that potentially causes problems for security.

The survey is doubtless accurate that Apple management tools are in short supply but what enterprises really need is a way of managing a number of different platforms without having to buy lots of new software.

Read more: Apple, Cisco join Microsoft’s fight against US warrant for email stored overseas

This is probably now a vain hope. BYOD has happened too fast for the market to keep up and Apple itself doesn't seem to see any need to help businesses by producing its own tools. The future of device management and security means managing devices using diffferent systems whether that is easy or not, with data security policies being translated across each.

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