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Apple, meanwhile, didn't respond to a request for comment on its goals with MTC. Several sources told CRN that Apple's employee policy prohibits Daumard from being interviewed or quoted in the media.
However, Microsoft partners told CRN they believe MTC could represent a crucial turning point in Apple's approach to the channel.
"The fact that Apple is now open for business to the Microsoft channel is significant," said Dave Sobel, CEO of Evolve Technologies, a Fairfax, Va.-based Microsoft solution provider. "We never had a way of doing business with Apple, and now we do."
MTC is the result of iPad and iPhone sales proceeding at a rate that even Apple couldn't have anticipated. In its recently concluded fiscal fourth quarter, Apple sold 11.1 million iPads, up 166 percent year-over-year. While iPhone sales fell 3 million short of Wall Street's expectations, Apple still sold 17 million of the devices, or 21 percent more than it did in last year's quarter. As Apple heads into the typically strong holiday quarter, a continued boom in iOS device sales is a near-certainty.
While Apple has maintained a closed ecosystem with iOS devices, deploying iPads and iPhones in corporate environments requires knowledge of heterogeneous network infrastructure. Apple doesn't have this expertise, and neither do most of its ACN partners. With MTC, Apple is filling this gap by leveraging broad ecosystem knowledge that is one of the Microsoft's channel's greatest strengths.
"Everyone understands that it's a heterogeneous world, and the back end piece consists of a bunch of different infrastructure components," said Sobel. "Apple is talking about environments where Exchange is the back end, and how to handle device management and deployment in those heterogeneous environments."
Andrew Snyder, senior systems engineer at The Linde Group, a Berkeley, Calif.-based solution provider that works with Apple and Microsoft, sees MTC as a way for Apple to capture more corporate business.
"In the past, Apple would either win or lose in the enterprise trying to sell Macs. Now enterprises have other options with the iPad and iPhone, and Apple is building out a services and support model with the MTC," said Snyder. "They are essentially saying, 'Don't be afraid to buy Apple, as our channel can design, implement and support our products.'"
Apple, in a characteristic reflection of its hawk-like attention to detail, has set rigorous MTC technical requirements. To be eligible for MTC training, a company must have a both a Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) with Enterprise Administrator on Windows Server 2008 and a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) for Exchange Server 2010. Also eligible are companies with Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) in both security and wireless, or a single staff member with CompTIA Network+ certification.
Next: Details On Apple's MTC Classes