Last year, Apple and IBM inked an "unprecedented" partnership that would see Big Blue helping Apple with its enterprise sales and support efforts. That partnership has thus far resulted in dozens of iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch apps (with more to come), and IBM is switching over tens of thousands of its own employees to Macs.
And thanks to the experience gained during the early rollout of that program, IBM is now launching a new service to help its own clients deploy Macs across their organizations more efficiently. IBM clients will be able to order Macs through IBM and have them delivered to employees preconfigured, with no need for additional setup, imaging, or configuration. BYOD Macs can be set up the same way.
IBM is using a software-as-a-service solution primarily, though an on-site option is also available. It allows users to get on their corporate network, set up email, and download licensed applications. The offering comes out of a partnership between IBM and JAMF, maker of the Casper Suite—a popular software solution for managing Macs in corporate environments. IBM clients can fully manage and support both iOS and Mac devices in existing IT infrastructure.
IBM had been offering these services to select clients on a one-off basis but has now expanded it as a standard offering.
"Ease of adoption and use are at the foundation of every Apple product, and as these devices are used more in the workplace, people expect the same experience they enjoy with Apple technology in their personal lives," said Richard Patterson, general manager, Infrastructure Services, IBM Global Technology Services, in a press release. "IBM's new enterprise services ensure a great user experience for clients using Macs, providing world-class support from installation through the life of the product."
IBM's goal is to offer full support and device management services to clients running any of a wide variety of platforms, from Apple's various operating systems to Android, Windows, Linux, and more.
With the Mac continuing to outgrow the overall PC market, it's no surprise that it continues to make inroads to the enterprise. IBM's corporation-wide adoption of the Mac could prove a solid test subject for other companies considering the move—even if the idea of IBM adopting Apple products seemed utterly unthinkable just a decade or two ago.
Apple CEO Tim Cook said earlier this year that the partnership with IBM came about because Apple recognized one of its biggest limitations was its penetration and expertise in the enterprise.
IBM has field resources, sales teams, and client lists that Apple doesn't have, and that would take years and significant investment to recreate. By leveraging IBM's expertise with Apple's products, both companies hope to come out ahead of the competition.
IBM has promised to release dozens more vertical-specific apps for the iPhone and iPad before the end of the year, but it seems possible that the Mac could be the recipient of some of those apps too.
The Apple and IBM partnership continues to progress. What are your thoughts on it a year into the deal? Let us know in the comments below.
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Jordan Golson is an Apple Columnist for TechRepublic. He also writes about technology and automobiles for WIRED and MacRumors. He has worked for Apple Retail twice and has been writing about technology since 2007.