This year’s WWDC track listing has a focus that seems evenly split between between OS X and iOS development. There’s also a fairly even amount of material for both experienced Mac and iOS developers as well as those new to developing for Apple’s platforms. One track that Apple appears to have axed from WWDC 2012, however, is the IT or enterprise technologies track.
An IT or enterprise technology track has not been a guaranteed WWDC staple, but Apple has offered several times over the past decade. The track, which typically comprises the only non-developer events at WWDC, has always offered large enterprises and IT professionals things that they rarely get from Apple – a roadmap or sense of where Apple is heading technologically as well as insights from Apple engineers and other Apple-focsed IT professionals.
For major IT leaders and decision makers, the sense of a roadmap from Apple is an important feature. Guidance like that is something that virtually every company that provides devices or software to businesses offers to some extent. Apple, of course, keeps future products and features under wraps – but it does offer developers and other WWDC attendees a lot of insight into the upcoming versions of OS X and iOS (and sometimes even future hardware). Apple has even actually occasionally pushed WWDC as its version of an enterprise roadmap over the years.
WWDC is the only place where Apple offers that level of disclosure about its plans – all under NDA, of course.
It isn’t entirely surprising to see Apple cut some of the enterprise and IT offerings from WWDC. After all, the company no longer produces data center hardware like the Xserve. Even its server OS seems to be going through an identity crisis with Lion Server seemingly like a transitionary release moving from enterprise to small business needs. That means the company has less enterprise knowledge that it needs to impart to IT leaders and systems/network admins.
Perhaps, more importantly, Apple-centric IT organizations began taking up some of the slack a couple of years ago when Apple focused WWDC on iOS alone. That has led to regional and national events across the country. MacTech is the undisputed champion of such evens with its own national conference in the fall and several smaller and more focused events year-round in a number of major metropolitan areas. Another great offering is the Penn State MacAdmins Conference that kicks off next week (and posts session materials online for those who can’t attend). These events don’t offer as much insight into Apple’s plans as WWDC, but they arguably provide Mac and iOS IT professionals with more targeted learning and networking opportunities.