Jamf interview: What iOS 11.3 brings to the enterprise

Macs will become as secure as iOS, major enterprises are deploying Apple TV in conference rooms, and iOS has become “the mobile platform for the enterprise,” claims Jamf.

Apple, iOS, macOS, iPhone, iOS 11.3, Apple TV, Mac, Jamf
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Macs will become as secure as iOS, major enterprises are deploying Apple TV in conference rooms, and iOS has become “the mobile platform for the enterprise,” claims Jamf, announcing day-zero support for iOS 11.3 when it ships later today.

Apple’s fit for business

I caught up with Jamf Product Marketing Manager Nick Thompson to grab a quick reality check around Apple’s progress in the enterprise space.

Jamf provides device management tools for over 15,000 organizations (up 1,000 since January 2018 and up 40 percent in the past year) to help them deploy and maintain Apple products in their enterprise.

The company works closely with Apple and introduced day-zero compatibility, which means Jamf customers should be ready to deploy iOS 11.3 (and all the other anticipated Apple software updates) as soon as they ship from now on — that’s a bonus for business. (Though Jamf also lets administrators defer updates for up to 90 days if they prefer.) You can read more about what the company introduced for Apple-using business customers here.

Enterprise picks Apple, adoption climbing fast

So, what’s the state of Apple in the enterprise? Pretty good, if the 40 percent uptick in Jamf’s client base across the last year is any kind of guide.

Thompson said:

“Apple has clearly established iOS as the mobile platform for the enterprise. ... Android is still not seen as a secure platform for the enterprise, even though Google executives try to show they are catching up.”

He also observed Apple’s claim that its enterprise business had reached over $25 billion annually way back in 2015.

Key enterprise partnerships and big-league enterprises shifting to Mac, including SAP (13,000 Macs), Capital One (12,000 Macs), and Walmart (7,000 Macs and climbing), mean that growth has continued, driving Jamf’s own progress.

Apple TV is also seeing wider adoption across enterprise clients.

“We see Apple TVs in classrooms, boardrooms, hospitals, hotels, and much more,” Thompson told me. “Large organizations, like SAP, are deploying Apple TV and taking advantage of custom in-house apps to display real-time dashboards.”

Further, he said:

“Apple TV is poised transform large screens with software, just like iOS has transformed phones and tables. We expect to see more deployments like this as Apple continues to add MDM functionality to Apple TV in the future.”

What iOS 11.3 brings to the enterprise

Thompson has a few insights into iOS 11.3 with Jamf features he thinks will suit the needs of enterprise IT.

“Managed Software Updates will be a feature that almost every organization should and will likely use,” he said. “The ability to force smart cards for authentication will be highly utilized in governments and industries with strict security requirements. This will also help Mac adoption in those industries.”

Enterprise users may also want to explore a new feature that lets Jamf users manage User Approved Kernel Extensions over their MDM system. This feature will enable IT managers to “deploy business-critical software without worrying about security or relying on an end user to accept the extension,” Thompson said.

Apple is listening

These and other enhancements within iOS 11.3 and its support for MDM systems, such as those provided by Jamf, also illustrate how closely Apple listens to the needs of enterprise IT.

Introduction of support for deferred updates, for example, “shows how they do listen to the community and are committed to adopting their products for education and enterprise needs,” Thompson said.

Up next?

Apple doesn’t like to talk about its future plans, which is why there’s such a big business in speculating about those plans — but you can sometimes detect the direction of travel and use this information to speculate more accurately on the future. Thompson points to the T2 ARM co-processor tucked inside the iMac Pro to provide a secure enclave and real-time data encryption.

“This represents a next generation of security for macOS. We can envision more Macs adopting this secure level of security,” he said.

I think that’s the kind of rock-solid, out-of-the-box security enterprise users are looking for, particularly in a context in which grey IT means some social networks may even be scraping the confidential contact books of Facebook-using enterprise pros who choose to use some non-iOS smartphones. Security and privacy are business critical items.

Apple world today

Everything I learned from Thompson suggests Apple remains resolved in its ambition to become the gold standard for enterprise IT.

The company is maintaining its hold on the mobile sector and enhancing its PC-replacing Macs, underpinning its offering with security and privacy technologies that competitors seem philosophically disinclined to match — even while the consequences of failing to deliver secure computing solutions is only now beginning to echo across public consciousness.

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