Apple's fast-growing enterprise market share is driving an expansion of the product support services ecosystem. Hexnode is a company that recently entered the Apple device management space. I spent time with the founder and CEO of the company, Apu Pavithran, to see this part of the world through his eyes.
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What will the workplace of the future look like?
As we go through the pandemic, we hear a lot about the new workplace. But nobody knows yet what it will be. We know that expectations have changed and employees have shown that working remotely can be productive, although many managers are struggling to make this transition.
How does Pavithran see the future of work?
Looking at it from a device management perspective, it highlights the need for cloud-native device management systems. “We can say with certainty that almost all applications will migrate to a hybrid or fully cloud-based solution in the next few years,” he says.
This shift from on-premises systems to cloud-based intelligence will likely result in increased spending on SAAS, which is certainly what Gartner, IDC, and others expect.
It will also create challenges in terms of managing multi-cloud deployments, putting customer-driven pressure on vendors to build solutions that work well with one another,” says Pavithran. “In addition to easing the burden on IT administrators, application integration offers many other benefits. Organizations can establish integrations that upgrade their infrastructures and enable agile business operations by combining and optimizing data and workflows between disparate software applications.
“New cybersecurity ideas like SASE are the result of increasing convergence between existing solutions.”
The Hexnode boss also sees the new workplace as a smart workplace. "From medicine to automotive, from cybersecurity to e-commerce, AI has had a huge impact on almost every industry," he said, predicting it will continue and accelerate.
Apple is growing in business.
Pavithran definitely sees growth in Apple and Mac market share. Windows was the de facto business operating system 10 years ago. Today, Apple's resurgence means that millions of Macs, iPhones, and iPads are used across industries. The feedback is that TCO spend goes down, productivity goes up, and employee loyalty goes up when they offer that option.
"Apple has been instrumental in transforming the MDM industry into what it is today," says Pavithran. “The device management APIs that Apple introduced with iOS 4 in 2010 introduced many new features…For example, through Apple Device Manager or Apple School Manager, MDMs can integrate any organization-owned Apple device into their fleet. The new user registration feature has even been released so that MDMs can better manage the devices in their arsenal.
“The capabilities that Apple has released to support device management features have enabled vendors like us to securely manage personal and corporate Apple devices. Hexnode has seen tremendous growth from Apple in the business.
[Also read: How Apple improved enterprise deployments at WWDC]
The digital transformation of the workplace
Along with the trend of adopting different platforms and practices, the way work works is also changing.
Accelerated by the pandemic, this digital transformation means new challenges and opportunities to keep business leaders awake.
“It is true that the digitization of various work processes, procedures and operations will bring significant benefits in the form of increased productivity, faster purchases, cost reduction, etc. Unfortunately, the advent of new technologies and solutions requires changes to traditional modes of operation. Employees, IT administrators, and managers will need to relearn new techniques to keep up. Fortunately, improvisation is one of our family's greatest assets, and as new challenges arise, so do new solutions.
These include the MDM APIs provided by Apple, including its relatively new user enrollment capability to help endpoint management solutions like Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) or Mobile Device Management (MDM) protect user privacy by Separate personal and corporate data.
“I don't see hybrid work coming to an end any time soon. However, successfully maintaining a remote environment poses many challenges in both device management and data security,” she says.
This is why the MDM market is changing so rapidly.
“UEMs are even part of next-generation architecture like zero trust. One of the principles of zero trust is that neither the user nor the device is trusted. Essentially, people need to verify that they are who they say they are, and devices need to verify that they are who they say they are. UEMs are a class of solutions that allow administrators this visibility into their remote devices while providing additional security.
How MDM works with Apple devices
Apple uses Managed Apple IDs to authenticate user enrollment. Controlled and created by business administrators in Apple School Manager or Apple Business Manager, Managed Apple IDs are different from traditional Apple IDs. They typically manage things like your email, can handle data storage and app provisioning, and will likely power endpoint security systems. It is now possible to host both a personal Apple ID and a Managed Apple ID on a single device, using containers.
Containerization means that a person's personal data existence is separate, including access to their personal iCloud storage, striking a balance between security and privacy for the company and the employee.
UEM/MDM systems provide administrators with complex visibility and management of each device, but this can affect user privacy if containerization is not used.
The difference between Apple and Android user enrollment
On the outside, Apple's user enrollment and Android work profile are intended to protect company resources while respecting employee privacy, says Pavithran.
“The implementation is similar, as both systems create separate virtual containers for applications and business data,” he explains.
On Android, however, the virtual container is visible in the UI as a separate folder or app drawer section, which means that different versions of the same app can be run with different accounts.
"Unfortunately, since Android only defines a framework for this feature, the scope and capabilities of the Android work profile vary by device manufacturer."
It works a little differently at Apple, he said, describing it as a "stealthier" approach.
The separate space (company) exists in the backend and is not as visible.
This means that instead of creating parallel apps for work and personal use, "the same app can create a personal profile with a standard Apple ID and a work profile with a Managed Apple ID."
Pavithran seems reasonably confident that Apple will continue to expand the enterprise support it builds into its system. "As Apple makes its APIs more accessible to third-party providers, the resulting synergy is sure to help ensure future businesses run smoothly," he said.
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