Apple looks outside its channel for enterprise foothold

Apple looks outside its channel for enterprise foothold

Apple is looking outside of its traditional Mac channel to infiltrate the PC world with its new enterprise server and storage offerings.

While Apple is involving existing channel partners in its enterprise push, the vendor is also talking to PC players and systems integrators with expertise in the corporate and government sectors, Apple marketing director, Arno Lenior, said.

The UNIX-based OS X technologies behind the push – the Xserve server offering and Xraid storage device had “opened up doors” for Apple, he said.

“Most major organisations run their back end systems on UNIX,” Lenior said.

Apple has made its own investment by adding staff to tackle the enterprise market while resellers including Next Byte and Apple Centre Taylor Square are making a similar play.

“We’ve expanded our sales and engineering teams in Canberra,” Lenior said.

The vendor was also adding staff in Sydney who would focus on the mid-size market, he said.

Apple’s largest reseller, Next Byte, recently opened a specialised enterprise technology division to concentrate on Apple’s Xserve and Xraid products.

Managing director, Adam Steinhardt, said the reseller group was seeing opportunity in its school and university customer base, that were traditionally early adopters.

Next Byte had hired several IT consultants, including one Windows specialist, to tackle the opportunities afforded by Apple’s new enterprise products, Steinhardt said.

He expected to take on more staff, particularly those with Unix experience, when the new division moved into its Lane Cove service centre in a couple of weeks.

The service centre would also contain demo facilities, Steinhardt said.

Canberra’s Apple Centre, which was traditionally education-focussed, had worked with Apple on its enterprise push for about three months, managing director, Ken Hogg, said.

Hogg said his team was working “in unison” with Apple’s new team of two who were focussing on the enterprise and government opportunities in the ACT.

This approach was helping the Apple Centre to overcome the traditional challenge of speaking as a third party to federal government clients, he said.

“They’re used to dealing with the vendor directly,” Hogg said.

“Short of a couple of sites, we haven’t won any major deals yet,” he said.

The penetration of the government and enterprise would be a “long term project” of “quite some months or even years,” Hogg said. “But it’s just a matter of time. The unlimited user licences are a huge thing in our favour."

But Apple’s regional dealers would probably miss out on the vendor’s push into the corporate and government spheres, according to Apple Centre Port Macquarie owner. Chris Bryant.

“We only talk to one Council,” Bryant said.

The Sydney and Melbourne-centric nature of government departments and big business headquarters meant regional players wouldn’t have much of a role to play in Apple’s new direction, he said.

.mac price drop with new Macs

Resellers have welcomed the price drop on Apple’s .mac software package. The promotion, that runs until September 27, makes the Internet user package available for $99 with the purchase of a new Mac. It normally retails for $189 on Apple’s online store.

“It’s a great promotion which we’ve been crying out for in the channel,” Next Byte’s Adam Steinhardt said.

The virus protection program including with .mac, Virex, had been retailing on its own for $115, Steinhardt said.

“The price had been set a bit high,” said Keith Marshall of Apple Centre Broadway. “Apple’s pricing structure often reflects the US market,” he added.

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