Apple Business Essentials
Image: Apple

Why Apple wants to be an IT company

Protocol | Enterprise

Good morning, and welcome to Protocol | Enterprise, your comprehensive roundup of everything you need to know about cloud and enterprise software. This Monday: Apple's small-business bet, the hybrid-storage landscape, and why serverless momentum seems stalled.

It just works

It's almost impossible to run a business in 2021 without technology. And a generation of employees unable to recall the time when Apple was a computing afterthought currently dominates the workforce, which means businesses of all sizes need to understand how to manage Apple devices at work.

Small businesses face this challenge more acutely than the enterprise conglomerates that dominate the pages of newsletters such as this one, and they also have very different needs than your average Fortune 500 company. Apple has long recognized the importance of the enterprise market to its business in the post-iPhone era, and this past week it rolled out a new device-management service for companies with less than 500 employees.

Apple Business Essentials is the latest step in Apple's evolving strategy to reach people buying and managing devices for their employees. That is a very different market than the people in an Apple store struggling to find someone who can actually take their money for an overpriced charger.

  • When it arrives in "spring 2022," Apple Business Essentials will offer three monthly subscription tiers for businesses that need help managing Apple devices used by their employees, including Macs, iPhones and iPads.
  • Administrators will be able to create custom installations of apps that employees need to do their jobs, which is a very old concept in corporate IT but is still important and harder than it sounds to manage at small businesses without a dedicated IT team.
  • Employees will also be able to create work versions of iCloud. (Which sounds like something Apple might want to consider for its own employees.)
  • And the service will provide access to a higher level of support than provided by a consumer AppleCare account, including a four-hour response time for onsite repairs.

Apple is relatively late to this idea, which should all sound somewhat familiar to small business owners who already use iPads as point-of-sale terminals or Macs for accounting.

  • Jamf, Kandji and several other companies have specialized in Apple mobile device management services for several years. Apple has offered business management tools in the past, but a market arose for companies like Jamf because Apple's tools were still too complex.
  • Are those companies worried? "We believe this expected announcement is good news and presents Jamf with a terrific opportunity," said Jamf CEO Dean Hager in an all-time classic PR response to a trillion-dollar company entering your market.

But the timing is excellent on Apple's part. The lines separating personal computers and work computers melted during the last 18 months, probably forever. Enterprise companies have teams of people to manage the much more complicated landscape that accompanies a workforce using computers outside the four walls they control, but small businesses do not.

  • Apple still has a single-digit percentage of worldwide PC sales, but its new M1 laptops are generating a ton of interest. At this point, the iPhone and iPad need no introduction.
  • If businesses start to compete for employees on the smallest of margins — such as which tools they force their employees to use at work — they'll need a plan for accommodating Apple devices without a ton of overhead.

Small-business data can be just as valuable in the age of ransomware as Big Company Data, and most people who start a small business don't do it to become CIOs. There's an enormous opportunity for enterprise tech companies and entrepreneurs to figure out how to bring the security and stability that large companies demand for their workforces to smaller companies.

After all, we're talking about nearly half of all the people working in the U.S.

A MESSAGE FROM POLY

Achieving work equity in a hybrid world means equipping employees with the tech tools that enable them to feel fully seen, heard and valued no matter where they are. Work equity is the outcome of a business that champions work-from-anywhere, deploying technology to give workers autonomy and increase collaboration across underrepresented groups.

Learn more

This week on Protocol

HashIPO: HashiCorp's pending IPO will be one of the most anticipated public listings for infrastructure tech companies in several years. Here's everything you need to know about the company, which helps businesses execute multicloud infrastructure strategies.

Storage bin: Companies that don't necessarily want to dump all of their data into a Big Cloud data center have several options to manage cloud storage and their own systems: How do they stack up? Our researchers published the latest Protocol Power Index, which dives into the world of hybrid storage.

AI transparency? Meredith Whittaker recently joined the FTC to help shape the Biden administration's AI policy, after founding AI Now in the wake of her departure from Google. In her first story for Protocol, Kate Kaye looked at how Whittaker's appointment could result in a new push for transparency for companies using AI in their products.

Financial corner

RPA startup Workato is now worth $5.7 billion after it raised $200 million in new funding.

Backblaze raised $100 million in its IPO, valuing the small-business cloud storage provider at around $650 million.

Weave Communications had a rougher IPO experience after the fellow small-business tech provider's stock fell sharply from its opening price.

Around the enterprise

A hacker targeted an FBI server and took advantage of a security flaw in order to send several emails that looked like official correspondence over the weekend.

U.S. companies are investing heavily in Chinese chips, according to The Wall Street Journal. And that support of China's homegrown chip-making industry is a source of concern for some security officials.

But the Biden administration did push back on Intel's plan to invest in a wafer-manufacturing plant in China, citing security concerns, according to Bloomberg.

AWS will open a new cloud region in Calgary, Alberta, which will be the third region it operates in the Great White North.

Saudi Telecom will invest $400 million in its own cloud-computing capacity, with the goal of operating 16 data centers in the country within the next several years.

Kyndryl signed a partnership deal with Microsoft, which will see the former managed-services arm of IBM steer customers toward Azure and other Microsoft cloud services.

Wells Fargo will start a 10-year hybrid cloud migration project next year, with Microsoft and Google poised to provide public cloud services.

What happened to serverless computing? With just weeks to go before the first in-person AWS re:Invent since the start of the pandemic, Corey Quinn took a look at the state of serverless computing, which was a huge part of AWS' plan for the future a few years ago but has not been adopted as quickly as many people thought it might.

Thanks for reading — see you Thursday!

Recent Issues