Apple Retail offers enterprise-class MDM for the rest of us

SMBs using Apple technologies can deploy the same system and device management tools as any major enterprise, using a solution that’s available for sale at Apple Retail stores.

Apple, Jamf, Mac, iOS, enterprise, Apple retail, SMB, MDM
Jamf Now

Small- and medium-size businesses (SMB) using Apple technologies can now deploy the same system and device management tools as a major enterprise, using a solution that’s available for sale at Apple Retail stores.

Cloud provisioning

Apple's retail stores in the U.S. now sell a cloud-based mobile device management (MDM) solution aimed at SMBs. The solution is called Jamf Now and can be used to help deploy, manage, and secure iPad, iPhone, and Mac devices quickly, securely, and effectively.

I spoke with Nick Amundsen, vice president of Jamf Now, to get a little insight into why the company thinks SMBs should take a look at the kit.

“The benefits of MDM are still largely unknown to buyers that aren’t IT professionals,” he explained.

This is because small enterprises frequently handle all the technology implementation in-house and don’t have the budget or time to secure the services of a full-time IT person or to learn the rudiments of MDM.

“Jamf Now lets users set up, manage and protect their investment and devices in minutes,” Amundsen said, describing the solution as "intuitive, but powerful.” 

Entering the iEnterprise

Does this Jamf solution meet an actual need?

I think it does. I’ve read ample reports from business analysts claiming that businesses that don’t digitize their existing systems will be at a major disadvantage in future.

“Managing devices is not just for large enterprise organizations with dedicated IT staff anymore,” Amundsen said. “SMBs use Jamf Now to ensure sensitive company information that employee access on their devices remains secure. Users can remotely enforce passcodes, encryption, and lock or wipe devices.”

The solution may also be of use to organizations migrating from Windows to Apple as they dump legacy operating systems and creaking antique computer kits.

Things have changed

Apple users who can still recall the opening of Apple’s first retail store at Tyson’s Corner may remember how the company focused around four quadrants: Home/Pro, Solutions, the famed Genius Bar, Theater and third-party accessories. Education-related solutions were very much up front in the store in those days. Enterprise? Not so much.

That the new Jamf solution is available at retail stores shows how things have changed now that Apple truly is an enterprise company.

In case there’s any doubt concerning Apple’s enterprise status, Jamf told me it has expanded its customer base by 57 percent with over 7,000 new organizations and 3 million Apple devices in the last year.

Jamf now manages 12 million Apple devices for 20,000 customers worldwide. Nearly all of its clients are from the enterprise markets.

Think back to when those retail stores opened up, and Apple was selling around 800,000 Macs each quarter and was making around $60 million every three months. It sold over 5 million Macs for around $7 billion in revenue in Q4 FY 2018 – and lots of these were sold into the enterprise.

Apple’s vice president of retail, Angela Ahrendts, confirmed that Macs are the biggest-selling products in the company’s retail stores, and Jamf sees this opportunity:

“A large number of small businesses buy their Apple products from Apple Retail. By partnering with Apple on this project, we’re enabling their teams to promote the benefits of device management in a straightforward way at a time that best serves the customer,” explained Amundsen.

What’s in the box?

The $79.95 Jamf Getting Started Kit is available at Apple stores in the U.S. It contains an activation code for three months of managing an unlimited number of devices in Jamf Now and a guide to using the solution.

SMBs can use the solution to manage their Apple deployments, and if they like it, they can subsequently maintain their fleet for a cost of $2/device/month (or for free if they use only three devices).

The kit includes tools to enrol devices, set device controls, remotely install apps, settings and restrictions, and remotely lock or wipe devices.

You can update operating systems across all your devices from a few commands using your management console. And you can deploy proprietary iOS and macOS applications across your organization.

While I’m completely certain this product won’t set the world on fire for many Apple users, to me this is a significant introduction that truly illustrates change. Some of the world’s largest companies (including Apple) started as small businesses, and now digital technologies underpin everything we do that it makes sense to provide SMBs with intuitive management tools so they can focus on what their business is actually about.

This is also a classic example of how the artificial divisions between business and consumer computing are eroding – and, in some cases, have completely disappeared.

Consumer demand provoked business to adopt iPads and iPhones, and now we see business solutions becoming something anyone can buy, off the shelf, in an Apple store. There is absolutely no excuse for unnecessary complexity in any enterprise deployment any more. This is not so much a sea change as a sign that the oceans have already parted, and Apple is now part of enterprise IT.

Now it needs to dig into the infrastructure.

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Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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