The MacIT Conference: An AWT interview with Paul Kent

While the defining conference and expo for fans of Apple technology -- Macworld/iWorld -- is no longer being held, those who deploy Apple devices, software and services in the enterprise still have a major three-day event they can look forward to: the MacIT Conference. This year’s event is scheduled for July 14-16 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California, featuring a slate of over 70 speakers and more than 40 sessions. I recently chatted with Paul Kent, the Conference Chair of MacIT to hear more about this year’s event. Read on for details, then take advantage of Apple World Today’s marketing sponsorship of the event to get $200 off of the regular $695 registration fee.

Steve Sande (SS):

Hi, Paul. Tell us a little about this year’s MacIT Conference. 

Paul Kent (PK):

Sure, so MacIT is the world’s largest gathering of enterprise professionals focused on the Apple market, so we have about 650 people coming from around the world. This is an interesting event, because a lot of the enterprise computing events — by necessity — now have to touch on Apple. This whole “Bring Your Own Device” consumerization of IT trend is really about Apple, and the influx of iPhones and then iPads really created that trend. Enterprises around the world are now having to deal with Apple technology in different ways.

We have the advantage of this long history and people who understand the Apple ecosystem, understand how Apple thinks and what that means in terms of rolling the technology out. We have the advantage of people who have been around for a long time, but also the people who are outside the core ecosystem where they’re just evaluating the Apple technologies in a very agnostic manner. It’s a great balance, and the show has an interesting juxtaposition of deep-dive engineering sessions and strategic executive perspectives.

We have a panel of CIOs, CSOs (Chief Security Officers); we have Ben Bajarin giving an analyst’s perspective, and then, like I said, we have these deep-dive engineering technical talks. You put it all together and you have a very well-rounded and tactical experience for people who have to worry about supporting and managing Apple in the enterprise.

SS: So, when is the conference scheduled this year?

PK: July 14-16 at the Santa Clara Convention Center.

SS: How many years has the conference been in existence?

PK: Well, that’s a great question! If you remember in my previous life, I started a conference called Mactivity, which ran between 1991 and 1997. Then Mactivity became part of Macworld Expo, it became what was called the Mac Professionals Conference and ran for a couple years. Then it became a couple of tracks that were part of the Macworld Expo and Conference agenda, and then five years ago, we took the tracks — there was so much demand for them — and turned them into a separate event called MacIT that has been running as its own conference for the past five years.

SS: From the standpoint of someone who used to be a Mac IT person, I recall going to some of the MacIT sessions in the days leading up to Macworld/iWorld and it was a phenomenal way to get a lot of technical information in a short amount of time. What are some of the hot topics that are on the agenda for this year?

PK: Certainly the core topic is the continuing story and evolution of Apple’s deployment model. Apple looks at the enterprise a lot differently that it’s traditionally been looked at. That’s kind of been the push in the market, how Apple’s concept of how updates get sent to devices is very different from the controlled “walled garden” approach that enterprises have typically used regarding controlling their user base’s machines.

So, I would say device management and deployment are two of the really, really big things, and then the topic of security is of utmost importance. I added this Chief Security Officer panel to really give the attendees executive perspectives on how enterprises are attacking security in this day and age.

SS: What a perfect time for this event - Macs are reaching an all-time high market share, and you couldn’t really pick a better time to bring this information forward.

PK: Absolutely! There are a lot of things about the timing that really work and the swell of Apple influence in the enterprise has never been higher. There’s a definitely lot of work and a lot of questions that these people are trying to get through, and our event will try to help them make their work life easier.

In terms of physical timing, it’s also very convenient that the July timing of the event follows WWDC, which is practical because whatever gets announced at WWDC will form a lot of the informal conversations and commentary that happens at the event. So we help attendees to decipher and interpret whatever happens at WWDC.

SS: Who are some of the speakers on the slate at the MacIT Conference?

PK: First, let’s look at the conference advisory board, the people who select and vet the content and also participate as speakers. They’re really some of the best minds in the industry. We’ll start with well-known Apple Consultant Arek Dreyer; Arek is a noted author, having written many of the third-party texts on Apple deployment. He’s just a star in our industry!

Charles Edge) used to be a consultant and is now a product manager for JAMF Software. Charles is another amazing base of knowledge. We have Nadyne Richmond from Genentech, who has been on our board for several years, as has John Welch who is well-known to the Apple community (@bynkii). Dan O’Donnell has been the content advisor and has amazing experience from his time at RAND, supporting the American Film Institute, a really brilliant guy. This is our advisory board, so we’re particularly happy to have such great people speaking there.

As I mentioned before, Ben Bajarin is there to give the analyst perspective. We have a keynote by Chip Pearson from JAMF Software. Another really interesting session is with the chief client platform engineer from Facebook, Mike Dodge, who is talking about how Facebook manages their 12,000 Macs. Andrew Laurence from UC Irvine will talk about virtualization.

Here’s an interesting session: Josh Schripsema from Expedia has a session called “What does tequila have to do with managing Macs?”

SS: That sounds like a great session! Will they have free samples?

PK: No comment. One other strategic direction of the event is the rise in enterprise application development. We have a great partnership with the Application Developers Alliance, and they’re doing a session called “The Enterprise Opportunity: How developers can capitalize on the $28 billion business of enterprise apps”. So enterprise app development is another theme of the event that is very important.

SS: You said that you’ll have about 650 attendees this year - is there a possibility that the numbers may rise this year both with the focus on Apple technology in the enterprise and the fact that many consultants might be able to attend MacIT since Macworld/iWorld won’t be competing for budget dollars?

PK: Oh, I agree. We’re expecting about a 20% increase in attendance this year and we certainly could go above that. The content and value of the event is certainly there. You also have this really cool mini-exhibit that many of our sponsors participate in, with not only JAMF Software, but Code42 with their security tools, companies like Cetrify, Lantronix, Parallels, MacStadium, Filewave, Zoom, Endpoint. So we have a great little exhibit where people can discover the latest innovations in Apple-related enterprise management solutions.

SS: Are there any special discounts that Apple World Today readers can take advantage of when registering for the event?

PK: As a media partner, Apple World Today readers can get a $200 discount off the regular $695 registration fee by using this link. The discount will be applied after you enter your email address and you’ll see it on the second screen. I wish you guys the best, we definitely need good quality media presence in our market and TUAW was among the best, so I want you guys to succeed!

SS: Thank you, Paul.