Guest blog post this week by our CTO Derick Naef and his thoughts on last week’s Apple WWDC – Anders. Thanks, Derick!

Apple’s Vision and What it Means for iPads in the Enterprise

I attended my first Apple Worldwide Developer Conference 20 years ago, and even though Steve Jobs would not return for another 7 years, the keynote presentation was always a highly anticipated, electric event.  This year was no different – where else do you see people campout overnight on a San Francisco street to get a good view?  Where do you have people lining up four deep so that the line doesn’t wrap around a city block before the big event? 

For enterprise customers, I think this year’s keynote was more significant than the last few years’ speeches – up there with the unveiling of iOS or the AppStore in 2008.  In his presentation of Lion, iOS 5, and the new iCloud service, Steve Jobs presented Apple’s clear vision for how users will work with documents in the future – and it has important implications for the enterprise.

Jobs said their studies show new users do great amounts of learning to operate Macs until a key point – they start interacting with the file system.  Then all bets are off and the learning curve goes straight up.  Apple’s vision is to completely hide the file system from the user and the iPad is the ultimate example of this – there is no file system from the user’s point of view. Apps are like tiny walled gardens that deal with documents and content only, and the functionality of iCloud mimics this – it focuses on sharing content between apps on different devices, not a cloud file system. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion is moving in this direction as well, and it is a bold vision.

Our corporate, education and government customers have thousands of file servers, with tens of millions of files.  They have complicated, creative workflows that involve interaction with many users and applications.  They deal with document management systems.  They have strict security, regulatory and governance requirements regarding how information is accessed and protected.  They will not be able to embrace this vision of a file system-less future unless it integrated into this infrastructure.

Does this mean Apple doesn’t care about iPads and Macs in the Enterprise?  No – far from it.  In discussions with Apple field reps, our partners and resellers, it is clear that the enterprise adoption of Macs, and iPads in particular, is a key focus of Apple.  Companies in every industry imaginable are piloting iPads – and it is clear that when those pilots conclude, the demand generation for iPads in the enterprise will skyrocket.  I have repeatedly heard talk about pilots of 10-50 iPads increasing to 4,000+ in deployment within 12 months.

Apple has created a game changing new platform that is on the cusp of revolutionizing corporate and education IT.  Apple’s vision for a file system-less future is compelling, but it needs to have tools to fill in the gap between the vision and the reality.  There is a vibrant green field opportunity to help fill this gap, and this is the opportunity that GroupLogic’s products, such as mobilEcho and ExtremeZ-IP, fulfill.

Derick Naef, CTO