The story Steve ISN’T telling at MacWorld
Buddhists believe that desire is the cause of suffering. I can’t speak to Steve Job’s religion, but it is clear he refuses to suffer for the enterprise. As one ex-Applet (what does one call them?) stated

Steve doesn’t [pull] any punches about what kind of company Apple is. He continually tells employees, even his enterprise sales force, that Apple isn’t an enterprise company. Yet Apple products meet the needs of some enterprises, and those customers continue to purchase the products in spite of Steve being very clear about Apple not being an enterprise company. While Steve is busy saying Apple isn’t an enterprise company, there are plenty of enterprise people at Apple, they just live in this nether world of not being part of Apple’s focus.

This is a very smart strategy, even if it is hard on the employees involved. Enterprise IT is never going to like Apple, so why bother trying to win them over? Let your customers fight that battle, which is, BTW, already half over.

Consumerization of enterprise IT
Enterprise IT is already mostly consumer-based anyway. Compared to the Bad Old Days – expensive, slow and proprietary – enterprise IT runs pretty much the same stuff that consumers do: Intel and AMD chips; Windows, Unix/Linux; ethernet; USB; SATA and SCSI drives; and PCI-X. Sure, packaging differs, scales larger, more databases, backup gets done and the apps are way-y-y boring, but really, the components aren’t all that different.

What is different is that enterprise IT folks have a horror of supporting new platforms. So they Mac has been computer non grata in most companies. At the same time users are discovering the ease of use, reliability and support that are top-rated by Consumer Reports and columnists such as the Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg.

As most desktops and notebooks exceed user requirements, differentiation shifts towards things that Apple does well and that most PC vendors do poorly. But enterprise IT still hates Macs. What to do?

VMware saves the day
VMware builds virtual machine software, and EMC bought them so they could get into the server business without going into direct competition with the servers of IBM, HP, Dell and Sun. VMware gives EMC the advantage of an EMC-branded server installed base without actually having to build more hardware. Most external storage is sold by the server vendor and EMC would clearly like a piece of that. Are you listening, big server vendors? (I’m not kidding: search VMware’s help wanted listings with the keyword “storage”.)

VMware has its Intel Mac virtual machine in beta now, and it addresses many of enterprise IT’s issues. VMware turns the Mac into a standard platform that IT already supports – VMware claims 5,000 corporate customers – capable of running IT’s, and other’s, pre-packaged Virtual Appliances. A newer technology, Assured Computing Environment (ACE), allows IT to create totally locked-down appliances that, for example, won’t access the physical machine’s USB ports or DVD burners.

ACE doesn’t run, yet, on the Mac VMware beta. A simple matter of programming and testing, I’m sure.

You won’t even have to buy a Mac
Buy an iPhone instead.

Techies – me included – at the beginning of a meeting love the “coolest toy” ritual: everyone pulls out their notebooks, phones, phasers, whatever and does the latest tricks. It is the tech equivalent of New York cocktail party status token (St. Bart’s, Gstaad, hedge-fund, Blahnik’s) swapping, only more fun.

Apple just introduced the iPhone, a converged device that runs Mac OS X. It won’t ship until June, but I suspect it will quickly become a must-have device for “less-is-more” road warriors.

Running Mac OS, IT will be able to put totally secure virtual PCs on this mobile device. Coupled with the fact that it does all that other stuff, IT will have a hard time persuading execs that they really want Windows Mobile and its broken versions of Office apps. And where is VMware for Windows Mobile?

Surround and penetrate the data center
Apple has even dropped the “Computer” from its name. No doubt Apple’s server and storage businesses will grow market share in the enterprise over time, but not because of a coordinated assault on the glass house. Customer pull and the incorporation of very cool technologies, such as ZFS, will continue to chip away at IT resistance. We live in a consumer-driven infosphere. IT will just have to get used to it.

Comments welcome, as always. Moderation turned on to defeat spamsters. Sorry, readers, you’ll just have to find online Viagra somewhere else.

Update: For those interested in learning more about iPhone, Roughly Drafted has a series that encapsulates nicely what is known (not much) and not known (a lot) about the product. It sounds like a lot of fevered tea-leaf reading for the most part. We’ll just have to wait for Apple to let out more info.

Update II: There was an article in the Washington Post that said Intel is not supplying the processor for the iPhone. Now, other companies provide ARM processors. The ARM company is a technology licensing company, not a manufacturer.

Update III: Could Transmeta have a new customer?