‘Windows is a declining ecosystem,' Jamf CEO says

Dean Hager argues that Windows is on its way out: “Organizations must realize that in 10 years’ time, Windows will not be the dominant ecosystem."

Windows, Mac, Apple, Jamf, MDM, enterprise, iPhone, iPod

Apple's forays into the enterprise are succeeding and likely to push aside Windows over the next decade, according to outgoing Jamf CEO Dean Hager. “...In 10 years’ time, Windows will not be the dominant ecosystem; ...Apple is coming up because it already dominates the mobile enterprise."

Hager's comments came in an interview with Computerworld.

Windows has no mobile device in a mobile age

The implications are significant, because it means IT has to accept that to some extent the infrastructure they have in place now has been assembled for a declining ecosystem. “No matter which way you look at it, Windows is a declining ecosystem and has been for 20 years,” said Hager. “That’s not a knock at Windows, it’s a statement of fact.”

As he sees it, the evidence is compelling. In an era of computing mobility, Windows has no mobile device, which means the platform can't be an “endpoint leader."

Apple, meanwhile, has the leading smartphone used in the enterprise, the leading enterprise tablet, and the fastest-growing PC used in the enterprise. These represent major changes to enterprise tech.

“When I joined Jamf in 2015, I thought some pretty special things were going to happen with Apple in the enterprise,” Hager told me. “But I think even my predictions would have fallen far short of what has actually happened in the last eight years.”

In 2015, Jamf had 4,000 customers running just over 3 million devices. Today it has over 72,000 customers running more than 30 million Apple devices. “Apple has a clear path, in my view, for winning the enterprise,” he said.

How Apple is winning the enterprise

Employee choice plays its part in this. After all, not only is it critical, but the nature of what employees expect has also changed.

“We live in an environment where people using the technology have a stronger voice than they've ever had in the history of the corporate world," Hager said. "And ultimately that voice will prevail. They will choose the technology that they want, and this just wasn’t true 20 or even 10 years ago. But the world has changed, employees have a choice, and those organizations that don’t allow that choice are falling behind today.”

Jamf was founded a few months after the introduction of the Apple iPod in October 2001. The music player defined an era — and redefined Apple. Then in 2010, CEO Steve Jobs appeared onstage to announce that Apple was now a mobile company, which it remains today.

But the iPod nation wasn’t just a consumer choice at a moment in time, it also inspired generational shifts. It means children born in the late 1990s grew up with Apple products, from the iMac to the iPod. That makes them culturally accustomed to the company’s platforms, and now they're entering the workplace and expect to use this tech at work, as well as at home.

This pattern is not confined to the US. It is also seen in developing countries, where Apple is growing market share in rising economies such as India, Taiwan, and Mexico.

Changing times and changing needs

Beyond those factors, the nature of the challenges enterprises face is also changing. Think back to how Apple devices were managed in 2015. Device management was one thing, endpoint protection another, and access control yet another third-party service enterprises had to work with.

Over time, the industry for each section evolved separately, meaning a company would use three services where today one will do the same job more effectively. This was inefficient and made for needless feature overlap and some confusion.

Jamf's argument is simple: “The reason you're buying all this stuff is to make sure that you have trusted access. And none of the patchwork of solutions that existed at that time could do this alone," Hager said.

That’s why the company now offers an integrated solution for all three activities for Apple products, and with the recent acquisition of DataJar it's building solutions for managed services.

Jamf was early to recognize that it needed to introduce security services as well as device management tools. At that time, security protection was one of the things getting in the way of the kind of enterprise-powerful/ consumer-simple solutions Jamf provides. The combined solution means the company can “lead the next wave of how true trusted access is delivered within organizations," Hager said.

Meanwhile, many of the incumbent services that existed in 2015 are being replaced by companies offering Jamf-like MDM, while others are being taken over and acquired.

What next for Hager?

Hager retires as CEO in September and will be replaced by current COO John Strosahl. Hager will remain on the company board, but plans to spend his time creating educational opportunities for disadvantaged children worldwide. It’s a personal mission, he explained.

“I grew up in a town of 150 people,” he told me. “My dad was a truck driver, which is what I was planning on doing. Then, when I was 16 years old, my teacher introduced me to an Apple 2e, I began using it in class, learned to code, and this changed my life.

“We had a school with three classrooms in it and not all the students in each class [were] the same age, so that meant they were all at different age levels.”

That’s really challenging for teachers to teach. For Hager, the best approach to such challenges is found in mass deployment of personalized learning plans that can be governed and led with technology in the classroom on every subject, he said. But a lot of people around the world have no access and no hope of access to these technologies.

“So, during my time here at Jamf, I’ve decided that in the rest of my life I’m going to try and get technology to young people that otherwise would not have the opportunity.”

His quest includes investments in classrooms and will soon also include the creation of post-secondary schools to help school-leavers acquire work related skills and find internships at European and US companies. The first such school opens in November, and as a result of the work so far, the first three children have entered into internships.

Hager is passionate about this. He sees education as transformative, not just for the children learning but also for their communities. “Sometimes it only takes one person that you impacted that ends up doing really well and they come back and invest in their community,” he said. “I can’t wait to scale the program even more and provide expertise and jobs to kids that otherwise would never have had the chance.”

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