MINNEAPOLIS – “This reminds me of one of the old Apple events,” Apple’s one-time product manager of automation technologies, Sal Soghoian said as we entered the opening Jamf keynote speech at JNUC 2019 earlier this week.
I couldn’t help but agree with him by the time the event was winding down.
Enterprise and Apple evangelism
All of the old Apple event ingredients were there: Enthusiasm, knowledge, curiosity, interest, excitement and for nearly all of the 2,500 Mac professionals at this year's show, the added attraction about JNUC is that they get to talk how they make their living.
These are professional Mac admins, enterprise IT support staff, enterprise-focused software developers, managers, purchasers, CIOs, CTOs and others who now realize that Apple's foot print is seriously growing in the enterprise.
Jamf’s commitment to this community and a great selection of partners and speakers (including IBM, SAP, Apple and others) mean that everyone I spoke to across the event was learning, doing business and having a good time. It had a real community “vibe."
There were also several big announcements at the show:
- IBM CIO Fletcher Previn unveiled a wealth of compelling statistics that suggest Mac users are happier and more productive in the office.
- SAP Martin Talbot appeared several times during the event, confirming the success of his company’s huge migration of tens of thousands of Apple devices and promising to use Catalyst to port some of its iPad apps to Mac.
- Microsoft ran through some of the many recent improvements made in Office 365 (Hint: Use the Ideas button next time you make a PowerPoint), and confirmed that with Jamf Pro it’s easy to use Microsoft Azure to deliver authorization on Apple’s platforms.
- Jamf talked up Jamf Protect, a unique product that puts the company at the cutting-edge of situational awareness for Macs.
- And Apple Product Marketing’s Jeremy Butcher discussed some of the security and other enhancements across the company’s platforms, noting that all of the top Fortune 500 companies now use Apple products.
All of these announcements reflect the significant change in Apple’s enterprise credentials in recent years. They also completely justify the vision Jamf founder Zach Halmstad showed when he decided to launch the company back in 2002, when the iPod was still young and then-Apple CEO Steve Jobs had yet to freeze Hell over with iTunes for Windows.
This is a strong community
I was impressed at the vibrancy of this event. I’ve attended literally hundreds of technology trade shows, and (as Soghoian observed) this one has had energy. This energy reflects the focus of the event, but also the growing size of the Apple enterprise market and the fast-growing opportunities show attendees are already seeing in that market.
This energy extends to include the many partners and enterprise/education-focused software vendors who exhibited here. There were quite literally dozens of vendors, which absolutely reflects the difference a few years has made to the Apple-in-the-enterprise story.
Apple has an enterprise business. That business is growing. And supporting that business relies heavily on strategic partnerships between Apple, Jamf, Microsoft, SAP, IBM and other names (big and small) in enterprise computing.
These vendors aren’t in the business of consumer computing; instead, they offer sophisticated solutions designed to appeal to the needs of Fortune 500 firms, SMBs, school districts and more. This is reflected by the kind of problems the vendors try to solve.
To illustrate this, here is a short (incomplete and randomly chosen) selection of the many exhibitors attending the show:
Code42 is most widely known for its CrashPlan online backup product, but it has pivoted on that solution to also offer powerful protection for corporate data assets. The basic premise: after an employee leaves a company, it becomes possible to monitor file activity in order to detect and investigate suspicious use of external media, USB sticks, browsers or cloud services in scenarios in which that employee might try to take intellectual property or other confidential company data when they depart. This matters because 60% of the 40 million people who changed jobs last year say they took data with them.
Diamond Assets offers a service that tracks the resale prices of an enterprise or an institution’s tech assets, which means companies looking to upgrade their infrastructure enjoy granular insight into the second user price of any equipment they need to replace – and can sell at that price. This kind of insight helps manage budgets more effectively.
SetApp, curates compelling collections of apps from multiple developers, making all these apps available for a monthly fee. This model helps business users take control of what apps are installed across their fleet, making budgets easier to manage while also giving employees flexibility to choose tools that meet personalized needs.
As SaaS enterprise app provision expands, larger firms find themselves handling relationships with multiple service providers while having very little insight into what services employees actually use. Torii aims to meet this need by providing its own way to manage all those SaaS solutions, enabling better insights and budget control.
The future of tech support isn’t going to be completely automated, but it will be AI augmented. This is why vendors such as Electric provide Slack chat-based support for networks, applications and devices. The idea here is that by outsourcing mundane tech support problems, IT departments can focus on the bigger challenges.
Services to help leverage existing tech investments were also on display at the show, including the extremely user-friendly Kitcast digital signage solution that works with Apple TV. With a clear user interface and a variety of useful templates, it makes it easy to turn any screen in your company into a presentation or marketing tool.
JumpCloud is a powerful directory-as-a-service offering that acts as an authoritative identity provider for Mac, Windows, Linux, networks, apps, infrastructure, file servers and more.
Up next: Seize the opportunity
There are so many ways to see what’s happened here.
Apple is now indisputably an enterprise company, and (in the U.S., at least) if you combine iOS with macOS to account for Internet traffic share, you’ll find that Apple is now more widely used online than Windows.
In part, this is driven by the demographic of users.
New employees coming into the jobs market today are more likely to have used an Apple product than they are to have used a Windows machine. This is driving firms to provide BYOD schemes and user choice so they can better recruit new employees — Apple provision has become an HR challenge.
Feeding this enterprise need is a strong and growing business for all parties able to play a part; I certainly overheard an array of business arrangements being made during the show.
Across at least the past decade, Apple has painstakingly built partnerships, developer tools, and complementary platforms – all with this outcome in mind. And Microsoft has remained a strong partner during much of this time.
The result? At JNUC, Jamf demonstrated a solution that lets you use Touch ID on your iPhone with Azure to unlock your Windows PC.
This new Apple enterprise reality is built into the DNA at JNUC. To my eyes, the show has become a unique event that pairs some of the best parts of Apple events of yore with the kind of enthusiasm you get when everyone is in a growth market.
Planning ahead? JNUC 2020 takes place in San Diego.