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Apple's Business Boom: 5 Takeaways From JNUC 2019

Jamf's annual conference highlighted business-friendly innovations in the Apple ecosystem and key growth opportunities for channel partners.

Jamf has grown into a heavy hitter in mobile device management with an exclusive focus on Apple products—something the company doesn't plan to change anytime soon.

And with Apple pushing hard to capture more business customers, Jamf and its growing community of channel partners are seeing a huge expansion of opportunities, company executives and partners said this week during Jamf's JNUC 2019 conference.

[Related: Apple Enterprise Specialist Jamf Growing 'Immensely' Amid Channel Push]

"We are partnered with you in a singular mission. And that mission is very unusual for a company of our size—to help organizations succeed with Apple," Jamf CEO Dean Hager said during his keynote at JNUC, held this week in the company's home city of Minneapolis.

"We never found that limiting. We found that liberating—to be able to embrace everything that Apple builds to create a differentiated product for you and a differentiated experience for all of your users," Hager said. "And I still get frequently asked—are we going to go broader, are we going to go beyond Apple devices? My answer is always the same: No. We choose to go deeper. We haven't finished the mission yet. We think we can even do more to automate deployments, to secure devices, and to create a greater experience for your users."

JNUC 2019 provided a deeper look into Apple’s growth in the enterprise, particularly with the rise of Mac as an alternative to Windows PCs. Meanwhile, the conference offered insights into how Apple, Microsoft and Jamf have all come together around deployment of Office 365 on Apple devices--and on the massive opportunities ahead for MSPs and other channel partners with Apple and Jamf solutions.

What follows are five key takeaways from JNUC 2019.

Apple's Surge In Enterprise

Recent years have seen a huge increase in the adoption of Apple products within businesses, said Apple product marketing executive Jeremy Butcher during a keynote talk at JNUC 2019. Helping the cause are capabilities released by Apple—including the Apple Business Manager for management of devices, apps and accounts—along with Jamf's powerful device management solutions.

"Here we are today and virtually all of the Fortune 500 are using Apple products," Butcher said. "We have hundreds of customers that are deploying tens of thousands of devices, so the scale is as impressive as the breadth. Our programs are in really great shape—we have over 150,000 organizations that are enrolled in Apple School Manager and Apple Business Manager across 69 countries."

Recent enhancements have included User Enrollment for iOS devices, "an entirely new management model that really is designed to support employee- or student-owned devices," he said. User Enrollment "has the goal of giving you the capabilities that you need to get the devices set up at scale, all while putting the privacy of the user at the front and center of everything."

Jamf reports having more than 35,000 customers and managing 15 million Apple devices, including for prominent customers such as IBM, SAP and even Apple itself.

Thanks to Jamf's "very close partnership" with Apple, "we get the support that we need, and we feel like we can provide a better solution in working with Apple," Hager said in an interview with CRN this week. "I do believe that Jamf is an appealing partner, because no matter who we go to, we are actually positioning and selling—as are our channel partners—the Apple experience. And by that I mean, it's always an Apple device, and it is the Apple experience that Apple originally intended."

The Growth (And Benefits) Of Mac

IBM has frequently been held up as the premier example of an enterprise Mac deployment, since the launch of the Mac@IBM program in 2015. IBM now has more than 290,000 Apple devices within the company, and has gained some crucial insights from the program, said IBM CIO Fletcher Previn during JNUC.

IBM has 504,000 laptops currently under management, and 30 percent are Mac. Double that amount--60 percent-- are Windows PCs, with the remaining 10 percent on Linux.

Research into the results of the program have found a correlation with improved employee productivity, satisfaction and retention, Previn said.

When it has come to performance reviews, 22 percent more Mac users have exceeded expectations than Windows users. Mac users have also been found to be 17 percent less likely to leave the company.

Additionally, macOS devices have a significantly higher Net Promoter Score among employees than Windows devices, and require far fewer engineers to support within IBM, Previn said.

“The Net Promoter Score is higher for the Mac. It's easier to keep the Mac up to date. Migrating to a new device is less difficult. It's less overhead to manage these devices at scale. They require less help desk support," Previn said during his keynote at JNUC. "Salespeople have higher-value sales deals. Employees perform better, and they're less likely to leave."

Previn cautioned that he can’t be certain "if better employees want Macs, or giving Macs to employees makes them better. You've got to be careful about cause and effect. But there sure is a lot of corroborating evidence that says you want to have a choice program."

In his interview with CRN, Hager said he estimates that the growth trajectory of Mac could bring it to much closer parity with Windows in the enterprise within the decade.

"Could [Mac adoption] go from 9 or 10 percent, to 25 percent or 30 percent, within five years? It's possible," Hager said. "As more and more organizations say that their employees can choose a Mac, I think you'll see a day where there is a more even distribution between Mac and Windows within the enterprise ... Without a doubt within 10 years."

Mac Endpoint Security

One key to enabling the Mac to reach its potential within the enterprise is improving macOS endpoint security capabilities, so that IT departments feel as comfortable with deploying the devices as Windows PCs, Jamf executives said during JNUC.

To that end, Jamf this week unveiled its first macOS endpoint security offering, Jamf Protect.

Jamf Pro does have the ability to issue security-related policies—such as a policy that users must have a complex password or that all Macs need to be encrypted, Hager previously told CRN.

But what Jamf Pro doesn't do is look for behaviors of the system or user that could indicate that there may be a security threat, he said.

To fill that gap, Jamf Protect uses native Apple security tools—paired with on-device analysis of macOS device activity—to develop telemetry that is customized for each organization's security team, the company said.

The offering provides in-depth visibility into a fleet of macOS devices, enabling improved responses and enhanced blocking of threats, according to Jamf.

Meanwhile, the company this week also announced Jamf Connect for Mobile, which lets customers use their iPhone to get password-free access to their Mac or Windows PC.

"From a channel perspective, the addition of Jamf Connect and Jamf Protect--along with Jamf Pro--allows our channel partners to put together a whole solution," Hager said. "They can actually say, here's your Apple device, and here's everything you need for the enterprise in order to deploy that."

Christopher Hurd, Apple alliances manager at Insight, No. 14 on CRN's 2019 Solution Provider 500, said Jamf Protect should especially help with bringing Mac into heavily regulated industries.

"Being able to offer Jamf Protect will open Mac up to segments that have a higher level of security requirements," Hurd told CRN. "For those that have a higher security requirement, I think this will absolutely make an impact. You should see some growth for Mac into that space."

Jamf Is A Bridge Between Microsoft And Apple

Even though Jamf is a major partner of Apple and is working to displace Windows in the enterprise, Jamf is also a close partner of Microsoft, particularly around the deployment of Office 365 on Apple devices.

As evidence, one of the keynote speakers at JNUC 2019 was Brad Anderson, corporate vice president for commercial management experiences at Microsoft--who demonstrated new features in Office applications and discussed identity security improvements enabled in part through working with Jamf.

Anderson also spoke with reporters during JNUC about how Microsoft and Jamf have partnered to make Office 365 a better experience on Apple devices.

"We have a very strong and unique view on Windows devices, because we build Windows. Jamf has the strongest view in the industry on the configuration of a Mac device and its posture," Anderson said. "And so they take that unique view that they have, they bring that into our management and security control plane, and that makes our management and security control plane stronger, which then allows us to offer a greater security solution to our customers."

Anderson added that "when you think about Microsoft and Apple, historically people have had this view that these are two competitors. There's actually more cooperation than there is competition."

"Apple doesn't look at Office as a competitive thing to them—Office makes their devices better," Anderson said. "Apple doesn't have a management solution. They look to Jamf and partners like Microsoft to provide that. And so all these things that we have done inside of Microsoft 365—it makes all the devices that come into the Microsoft 365 ecosystem better. And that's a different world than it was two years ago. And I think part of that is time, I think part of that's leadership. I think part of that is just that Microsoft's a different company than we were six years ago."

Hager said in the interview with CRN that while "Apple is largely focused on the individual," Microsoft "has largely been focused on the organization."

"And as a result, I would say that they've delivered different levels of simplicity," Hager said. "And along comes Jamf right in between them, and says, we—like Microsoft—are focused on the organization. But like Apple, we want that legendary individual experience. So we will bridge the gap. We will be the ones that deliver the Apple experience in the Microsoft organization. And we have just ended up landing in a really good spot, where we're partnered equally well with both of those organizations."

Partner Opportunity

With the momentum for Apple products within businesses and Jamf's launch of new offerings, solution providers told CRN they are bullish on the opportunities ahead with Apple and Jamf.

"From our perspective we see it as potential explosive growth," Hurd said. "The Jamf offering is expanding beyond just core MDM—when you look at something like Jamf Connect, which is really going to help with that identity management authentication for cloud-based identity. That can be used in an enterprise where Jamf Pro isn't their MDM. They could have [VMware] Workspace One as their MDM provider, but they still need that Jamf Connect piece."

Hurd said that "one of the amazing things about where Jamf is going is that they're doing their core—MDM is still critical—but they're also making offerings that will bring in the Protect and Connect piece for those clients that need higher focus on security or adding a way to leverage single sign-on.”

Marco Nielsen, vice president of managed mobility services at Stratix, a Norcross, Ga.-based MSP partner of Apple, called Jamf "a very strong player in the Apple ecosystem."

"They seem to be the one that Apple nurtures," Nielsen said. "I can see Jamf has really grown through the years by that partnership with Apple."

For its next phase of channel expansion, Jamf is now looking to work more closely with MSPs, company executives told CRN.

"We want to continue enhance our programs around MSP to make it more palatable for them," said Gianpiero Policicchio, manager for North American channel sales at Jamf. "I think we're also looking at continuing down the road of billing based on utilization, which is really the true MSP model. So we're shifting a lot of what we're doing. We've already started down this road, but I think we're really solidifying it."

Hager said that "especially when you have IT shops where all they've ever done is Windows, the notion of just outsourcing it completely to another organization can seem pretty appealing. So we do see that as an opportunity."

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