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March 16, 2006

Comments

Colin

That's a cute article. I've had nothing but success with Apple's Enterprise support. Maybe you need to actually be an "enterprise", not "a business with 4 Xserves in the back room and an IT department of one" for Apple to pay attention.

FYI, "koolaide" is spelt "Kool-Aid". Nice product placement with webmail.us though!

Sapridyne

After thinking about this article for a couple hours, I have to say I agree, for the most part, with the author. Even as a former Apple Professional Services Provider, it's often frustrating to find good reliable support inside Apple. Most Apple SE's knew very little about the product they were supporting. When I would find one, I would be sure to keep in contact with them, in case I needed them.

I was once asked by a corporate Apple rep (when I was a Macintosh Administrator) what I did when I faced a problem I didn't have an answer to. I replied that I figured it out. I took pride in being able to find the solution myself and not having to rely on the vendor everytime something went south.

Apple will never have Microsoft-like enterprise support. It doesn't matter how many people complain about it; it's not going to happen. Those who are administrators of Apple-based solutions have to take it upon themselves to learn about their systems... to read, to study, to find resources themselves.

One of the trends that I've seen in the past several years is administrators wanting answers NOW. They want to pick up the phone or send an email and get a response back in just a few minutes. I understand that, but I think it's relying too much on outside vendors. I think it's important for admins to take responsibility for their environment. That means not letting the vendors come in and work on their servers and give a half-a$$ed explanation on the work they did. Rarely did I have an admin who wanted to know exactly what I did.

Sorry for rambling. Bottom line -- I understand the frustration of not being able to get "reliable" support from Apple. That is not the reason to throw Apple solutions out the window. Take responsibility for your environment. Learn the OS, learn the hardware, have a parts kit, make connections, read AFP548 and Mac OS X Hints and the Apple Discussion boards. Apple will not be pulling out of the enterprise market -- not with Mac OS X Server, Xserves, and especially Xserve RAIDs selling as well as they are.

aleister

Feel free to elaborate on your assessment of small minded, Dave. Contentment toiling as cog to fund nothing better than life as nut-gathering link in your genetic meat-chain hardly qualifies as a broad outlook. As for elitist, I wear that mantle with pride. What would you like to hear, echoes of egalitarian delusion? Not really my point though.

Apple primarily builds tools for INDIVIDUALS. (Does my dropping "creative" soothe your feelings, Dave?) Why would anybody who can aspire to better want to redirect their energy to merely serving corporations? That's commodity business, like selling mop handles. That's a race to the bottom.

What utter nonsense to cry that Apple needs to increase it's SHARE of the computer market. That as primary objective would be a deeply idiotic business plan for any company that can own the top of the market while mostly leaving the dregs to others. Let Dell and HP sell the cheapest commodity garbage at grocery store margins to purchasing agents who will buy toilet paper an hour later. Do you think BMW dreams of being Chevy? Eh, think different Dave.

me

I can speak from first hand knowledge. Apple Enterprise stinks. We bought into it in 2003 and are now looking to pull it all out along with the Mac desktops. Nice move Apple.

The Unknown Admin

Colin,

Your remark about being a real enterprise is rather insulting to those who are experiencing this in their respective large enterprise shops. If you compare the level and tiers of support services, maintenance contracts, SLA's, etc which Apple Enterprise offers compared to others like IBM, Sun, HP, Microsoft offer, Apple looks absolutely pathetic.

Your comment about having "nothing but success with Apple's Enterprise support" holds no weight because anyone can pull that kind of statement out of their rear. Maybe if you detail the type and severity of the incident and what tier level your trouble ticket was flagged at, then maybe your statement will hold a bit more credibility.

aleister, some of us are Mac users outside of IT but when it comes to the enterprise, Apple fanboyism and ignorance of the sort of expectations which come with that market is really foolish. If as you say, Apple primarily makes tools for INDIVIDUALS, that doesn't excuse their Apple Enterprise division (rebranded to IT Pro) to act like the rest of the companies consumer divisions. They are distinct markets (look up the meaning of distinct to get a clue). If fanboys (who probably have little experience in a mission critical enterprise environment) feel that Apple elitism has a place in that arena, you are extremely ignorant to the reality as this is not about "BMW dreaming of being Chevy" (pretty stupid logic). Furthermore, it is the service/maintenance contracts that are the lucrative part of the enterprise. Take a look at how much IBM Global Services pulls in each year to get an idea.

Anyone who puts aside their Mac preference and does their research carefully and asks the right questions to get past the marketing drones without bias will find out that deploying a largescale Apple IT Pro based solution is a risky proposition when it comes to what an enterprise customer expects.

Michael Vallance

re: I always blamed short-sighted IT staffers who figured the best way to keep their jobs was to install Windows machines wherever possible.
--
My feelings too after years working as an academic in Higher Education and being an ICT Coodinator. I have set up (with colleagues) Apple labs, trained techs to be Apple-aware, etc. BUT when it comes to a university/college wide support the IT guys simply don't want to know. Students bring iBooks these days but still the tech guys dig their heels in and say, "We do not support Apple." It sucks! BUT also Apple must integrate into an enterprise or it will eventually lose its educational base. People like myslef who are not paid to support Apple products (yet we do ) have limited time and resources. Younger tech guys (and women) see the benefits of Apple OSX , etc... Apple needs to support them beyond offering training, etc. I know of one design university (a new one) that wants to go 100% Mac (e-mail, login for staff and students , etc) but are frustrated by the poor enterprsie support . Yikes - they are even considering MS Exchange server for e-mail so MS hardware sneaks in despite desire for an all Apple campus.

swisswuff

If you normally assess technology - hardware, software, and future development, and if you attach evaluation points to the important options, add your points all up and then see which result is the best - and if you thus systematically reach a conclusion about what brand of computer to buy - then I can't see how this blog entry has any role whatsoever.

I mean, what do we learn by reading this? That Apple is a company with a human as boss? Is that what we learn? Wouldn't 1 sentence have been enough?

Otherwise, I want to know precisely what Apple is going to release in terms of high end desktop workstation and exactly when and at what price; when they will sell MacBook Pro with 2000 x 1400 pixel screens, 2 harddisks, up to 4 GB of RAM, 2 batteries and when they will have OS X truly 64-bit ready. Other than that, I'm interested in similar developments for other PC manufacturers.

ocracokewaves

Well perhaps you haven't spent much time with CIOs or been someone who has had to make an important decision which will impact your enterprise and its many users.

All companies have marketing pitches and products which they support more or less depending on where the companies are heading long term.

If you decide to go with a company who eventually might not provide the kind of support you need for your enterprise, then you've got a big problem if you've built that company into your five year plan.

If you're a consumer buying one product at a $1,000 and the company decides not to support you, you have a problem but not to the extent that an enterprise might have if you have bet your technical architecture on a company who doesn't come through.

I'm not sure Steve is very human, but that's another story. It you want to read about the value of blogs like mine, you might check out the post that I just did at my main blog.

http://viewfromthemountain.typepad.com/david_sobotta_weblog/2006/03/the_value_of_bl.html

I have to warn you it is more than one sentence, it's even lengthy for me. :)

If you want it in one sentence.

Blogs are just another data point, trust the ones that make judgments like you make, ignore the rest.

Love Anon

Here's a little anecdotal story from the bowels of a large financial organisation which is quite relevant. A few years ago, the CIO and several directors in IT of an investment bank started a low-profile investigation into whether Apple or Linux could be introduced to reduce the dependence on Windows. This was around the time of the SqlServer worm that wrecked havoc at large corporates world-wide and was the first time our organisation's integrity had been breached. Part of the problem of that particular worm was sheer number of workstations all running the same version of SqlServer. The case for a hetrogenous environment had never been stronger.

Apples were given to most of the key directors who spent the next few months trying to use the Apples as much as possible without falling back on their Windows desktops. There were plenty of problems, but over time most of the users had managed to integrate fairly well into the corporate ecosystem. As far as I can remember there where two issues that eventually became showstoppers. The first was inadequate exchange integration and the second was the abysmal performance of Java GUI applications (dual core G5's were being kicked by 2 year old Wintel laptops).

Dialog began with Apple to see if anything could be done to remedy these issues (i.e. whether the promise of 1000 G5's could garner some prioritisation). Directors even flew to Cupertino to meet with Apple VPs over this. But in the end, they discovered that Apple really wasn't all that interested. Sure 1000 G5's is a drop in the ocean, but that would have been a sizeable percentage of an Investment Bank using Apple.

RB

The thrust of what you are saying (and many other people as well) without realizing it is that Apple has outgrown Steve. Yes, he did a fine job of reserecting Apple (though much of what Amelio started is to be credited for this as well), but Apple would be better off with someone else to take it to the next level.

Apple has the opportunity to "change the (computing) world", not just sell sugar water to borrow an expression, but just can't seem to come up with the courage of their convictions to take the leap.

There are many in the corporate world who would welcome the opportunity to leave Windows behind, but on their hardware. Apple does make some hardware that is useful, but the corporate world will not likely ever adopt a completely proprietary hardware/OS system such as the outmoded model to which Apple clings.

The shareholders of Apple would be better off if Steve were to be moved aside to some sort of director (perhaps dictator) of creative development or some other nebulous title where he could play around and let someone else get on with the business of business. It is supposed to be about making money for the shareholders, not soothing an employee's ego.

Barry Scott Wilson

I think that the real issue is just a support issue. The products are good and are made by people who understand what the customer needs, even at the enterprise level. But support is a problem. I've had good and bad experiences with Apple support. Even iTunes which the author suggests is part of Apple's bread and butter has given me support headaches. There is one messed up album on iTunes that I cannot purchase which Apple support people have been promising to get fixed "within two weeks" for the last 6 months.

On the other hand I've had quick responses to questions about OS X Server issues. In general, Apple tends to do several things with its employees. For one, support people who know their stuff often get moved away from support leaving novices in that position. As a developer I've finished a technical support call thinking that that guy should have called me for answers, instead.

For another thing, Apple burns out many good people and clearly survives on a constant influx of young graduates who often have their own agenda and are filled with passions which may or may not conflict with Steve's own passions. When they fit with Steve's vision they become rising stars, otherwise they often become stars somewhere else.


the article was interesting but this discussion is great!

I love my mac but all I see are either hardcore anti-mac or hardcore pro-mac articles... propaganda essentially.

I hope the apple bigwigs read this kind of stuff because some really good points are being made.

Anon e Mous

I really hope that management of all levels inside of Apple reads all of this posting. Great article and opinions. I have experienced most of the bad qualities of the Apple experience. Really hurts in the HPC community.

Former Apple IS&T

Good discussion. It's definitely about the consumer. If anything works for the enterprise it's because the iTunes music store or Apple Store uses it. It's because the smart people in the internal IT group there makes it work despite engineers that have rarely seen the inside of a data center or have ever built an enterprise application. Apple will remain one of the few Fortune 500 companies that is truly a Mac shop from data center to desktop. It could do much more in the enterprise but why divert focus away from what's making them a success - their consumer, entertainment, and pro-graphic businesses?

keash

hi, great discussion indeed. I'm a IT manager who is a switcher (MBP 15") and I love Tiger, if I could get that for my company... but a couple of apps we use are not ported to os X. too bad. But I persuaded the CEO to buy a iMac (macTel 20") so it's the first step lol as he is happy with it.
Anyway, I have a question. Apple is a company (and a big one, isn't it ?). Do they use their own product and get a crappy support ? or do they use *evil* MS or Linux OS ?

ocracokewaves

Apple actually eats their own dog food as the expression goes. Apple is a substantial enterprise and runs almost exclusively on OSX. There are boat loads of Xserves running Apple. When I left Apple they were using a Java SAP client to run a lot of the company. They also use Oracle and a number of other enterprise apps. As you might imagine, Apple's support ratio which I once knew is exceptionally good. Internally the support is very reliable. The problem is that the kind of expertise that you need to run an enterprise the size of Apple on Apple hardware-software is in limited supply so most of it goes to Apple first. I don't know of an enterprise that is satisfied with Apple's support save perhaps one that has a seat on the Board of Directors, but things might have changed since I left two years ago.

Seanie Boy

I've read through all this here,
And I've been thinking about these issues for a while ( for the academic purpose of distracting myself.) I have the benefit of a few months of time and looking at other things.
I firmly believe that Apple doesn't want to directly build for the Enterprise market. I think they want the market but not the headache. to this end I'd say the plan is to maximise their current market , Consumer and when they hit that magic market share release MacOSX to other OEM's and let them
handle the enterprise market, along with the headaches involved. after all the Big OEM's already do a great job in enterprise, despite having to support a difficult OS , give em a good OS and your laughing

That's my analysis anyway.

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