Speak to most IT people about supporting Macs and you’ll hear the conventional wisdom that Apple doesn’t care about selling to large businesses or supporting enterprise customers. It’s an argument that has been made for years and it isn’t without some truth. But, like the conventional wisdom about Apple products always being more expensive than their competition, it’s starting to get a little stale.
MacWindows reiterated the story this morning while covering Forrester’s prediction that enterprise customers will spend $47 billion dollars on Macs and iOS devices within the next two years.
I’ll be one of the first to admit that Apple rarely behaves like other enterprise hardware vendors. The idea of offering up an 18 month or longer product roadmap, for example, runs completely counter to Apple’s DNA. But that doesn’t mean that Apple completely ignores its business and enterprise customers to the extent that is often portrayed.
Following last year’s cancelation of the Xserve and the small-business-ifying of Lion Server, it’s easy to say Apple pulled the rug out from under any enterprise products. The problem is, a lot of large companies weren’t buying those products. Apple has made efforts in each iOS and OS X release to make them work in enterprises without needing additional hardware or support from Apple – that ultimately illustrates that Apple is looking at enterprise sales and focusing on a more streamline product mix for the workplace. By refocusing its efforts, Apple trims expenses and opens the field to a wider range of third-party providers.
The bigger point, however, is that Apple does offer varying enterprise training and support options. Some of them are actually rather good, even though the company rarely does a good job promoting them. Here are links to some of Apple’s support programs that current or potential business and enterprise customers should check out.
Apple Business Experts – Business and enterprise sales teams (special teams exist for government and education)
AppleCare Professional Support – Range of support programs for business and enterprise including support for OS X Server, Xsan, and Apple Pro apps deployments as well as backup help desk, per-incident needs (varies by product), and whole IT department support covering integration issues with non-Apple systems.
Apple Consultants Network – Apple’s directory of independent IT consultants that have passed Apple’s various certification exams.
Apple Certified Professionals Registry – Searchable index of IT professionals that have passed one or more of Apple’s certification exams (can used to verify job candidates possess current certifications).
Apple’s Training and Certification site - Includes programs for basic hardware troubleshooting and repair, OS X support, mobile technology configuration and support, Xsan deployments, and advanced server/network integration specialties (Windows IT folks can compare some of the higher level certifications to the MCSA and MCSE certifications). Of note is the new (and free) Mac integration basics guide and exam.
Apple Training Series – This series of books, published by Peachpit, includes the text of Apple’s various certification classes although not all in-class exercises are included.
Apple Service Programs – Programs for hardware repair and replacement including iOS Direct Service program for supporting large iOS device deployments and Self-Servicing Account program, which allows IT staff that are Apple certified technicians to perform warranty repairs at a business worksite.