IBM's year-long partnership with Apple took a new turn on Wednesday with the PC giant's announcement of new cloud services designed to help large companies incorporate Macs into their IT infrastructures.
With the new offering, which is part of IBM's MobileFirst services portfolio, clients can order Macs and have them delivered directly to their employees without the need for any additional setup, imaging or configuration. Employees can then quickly and securely gain network access, connect to email and download business applications, IBM said.
The services can also accommodate employees' own, personal Macs in corporate "bring-your-own-device" settings. They are delivered via the cloud as a software-as-a-service (SaaS) product but are also available on-premises in clients' data centers.
The announcement of the new services comes hard on the heels of recent reports that IBM will be purchasing as many as 200,000 Macs annually for use internally, and in fact, the new offering is based on experience IBM gained through its Mac@IBM program.
The ability to incorporate Macs within enterprise IT is "a rising requirement," IBM said, as more clients adopt or allow the use of Macs by their employees.
Figuring prominently in the new offering is the Casper Suite from JAMF Software that's designed to help users quickly set up and deploy Macs, including MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Mac Mini, iMac, and Mac Pro.
Also included are ongoing support services 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, IBM said.
IBM offers enterprise services that deliver support for iOS devices as well, including iPad and iPhone.