Apple and IBM continue their collaboration with cloud-based IT services to help enterprise clients integrate Macs

IBM has announced new cloud-based IT services to help clients "quickly, easily and securely" integrate Macs with their enterprise systems and applications. It's the latest development in the (relatively) new love fest between IBM and Apple. 

This new offering from IBM MobileFirst Managed Mobility Services is designed to help large enterprises incorporate Macs within their IT infrastructures – a rising requirement, as more clients adopt or allow the use of Macs by their employees, according to Richard Patterson, general manager, Infrastructure Services, IBM Global Technology Services. Shipments of Macs are growing faster than the industry average, and the Mac has outgrown the PC industry every year for the last decade.

These new mobility services for Mac are based on the experience IBM gained through its internal [email protected] program, with IBM deploying Macs to employees around the globe at speed and scale, in a highly secure enterprise environment, according to Patterson. With its partnership with Apple, this presented an opportunity for IBM to commercialize this offering using its own experience in enterprise deployment and the ability to scale to clients' specific needs, he says.

IBM also has been providing these services on a custom basis for a variety of clients and with the growing interest in adopting Macs into the enterprise, IBM is now offering them as a standard services offering. The integration services for Mac are delivered via the cloud as a software-as-a-service solution and also are available as an on-premise solution in the client's data center.

With these new services, clients can order Macs and have them delivered directly to their employees without any additional set-up, imaging or configuration, saving time, reducing costs and creating a great employee experience, says Patterson. Employees can then quickly, easily and securely gain network access, connect to email and download business applications, he adds. The services also can support personally owned Macs that are authorized in a bring-your-own-device environment.

The new services feature the Casper Suite from JAMF Software, a software solution for helping clients set up and deploy Macs, including the MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Mac mini, iMac, and Mac Pro. With the combination of Casper Suite and IBM's enterprise integration and support services, clients can work with IBM to directly procure, integrate and manage Macs across their IT infrastructures and employee bases. These services also can support clients who choose to deploy both Macs and iOS devices within their enterprises.

This new offering is an enhancement to IBM's MobileFirst services portfolio, specifically designed to support Macs. It complements existing IBM enterprise services supporting iOS devices, including iPad and iPhone, creating a comprehensive suite of services for enterprise deployment and management of Apple products.

In addition to simplifying deployment, the new IBM services allow enterprises to manage ongoing support for Macs, providing OS and image management, software application and update management, an enterprise app catalog, automatic compliance and configuration updates for security, and inventory and reporting for hardware and software. Users also can access a range of self-help resources, including password reset, chat, and expert knowledge forums, as well as traditional help desk services.

Starting in May IBM workers were allowed to begin choosing between a MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, or a PC when getting a new or updated workstation. Each Mac comes preloaded with all necessary software, such as VPN and security tools, according to IBM. 

A company memo said the firm has about 15,000 active Macs deployed through its bring-your-own-device program, but aims to deploy 50,000 MacBooks by the end of 2015. That number will make IBM the world’s biggest Mac-supporting company.

In July 2014 Apple and IBM announced an exclusive partnership designed to transform enterprise mobility through a new class of business apps — bringing IBM’s big data and analytics capabilities to the iPhone and iPad. IBM MobileFirst for iOS solutions will be built in an exclusive collaboration: IBM’s big data and analytics capabilities, with the power of more than 100,000 IBM industry and domain consultants and software developers behind it, fused with Apple’s consumer experience, hardware and software integration and developer platform.