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Cisco and Apple jump in bed for an enterprise lovefest

Apple wants a piece of the enterprise pie, and it's scratching all the right backs to get it. "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship"

Apple and Cisco have announced a new partnership that will optimise enterprise environments for iOS devices and apps.

That’s right; the king of consumer has climbed into bed with the networking titan.

With Apple attempting to make inroads into the enterprise, this partnership is another shrewd move on the part of CEO Tim Cook. The most valuable company in the world is certainly not absent in the business world, but it’s achievements to date have been a by-product of its success in the consumer space. Terms like ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) and the ‘consumerisation of IT’ would likely not exist of it weren’t for Apple’s hugely popular iOS devices.

But the Apple executive team is obviously not content with the current paradigm; they want the Apple brand to be synonymous with the enterprise mobility. And if they can stem the bleeding iPad sales figures in the process, that’d be swell too.

Rather than start from scratch, Apple has opted to form strategic partnerships with key enterprise players. Last year, IBM and Apple announced a partnership which saw Big Blue help its long-time rival with enterprise sales and support efforts. IBM is now switching over tens of thousands of its employees to Macs and has created a programme to help other businesses do the same.

Apple’s infamous ‘1984’ advert, depicting Big Blue as Big Brother seems a distant memory. These are the days of collaboration and mutual backscratching.

Now it is the turn of Cisco to get some of Apple-lovin’. Cisco networks and iOS devices will, according to the two firms, be ‘optimised so that they work together more efficiently and reliably’. With Apple's support, Cisco will optimise their suite of collaboration tools, including Cisco Spark, Telepresence and WebEx.

“iOS is the world’s best mobile platform, and nearly every Fortune 500 and Global 500 company today has put iOS at the centre of their mobile strategy,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “iPhone and iPad have become essential tools for the modern workforce and are changing the way work gets done. Together with Cisco, we believe we can give businesses the tools to maximize the potential of iOS and help employees become even more productive using the devices they already love.”

Cisco executive chairman John Chambers chipped in: “Ninety-five percent of companies in the Fortune 500 count on Cisco Collaboration and Cisco networks to help their teams be more productive.”  

“Through this engineering and go-to-market partnership, we’re offering our joint customers the ability to seamlessly extend that awesome Cisco environment to their favourite iOS devices. Together, we’re going to help teams achieve higher levels of productivity and effectiveness,” he added.

While it looks like Apple’s hipster ‘super-super excited’ rhetoric may have rubbed off Chambers, the new partnership is unlikely to be kowabunga-level awesome. It’s more of a mild win-win scenario for the two companies. Cisco doesn’t really have any stake in mobile, so the deal is no skin of its nose. And the only real benefit for Apple is that the move may further incentivise employers to invest in iOS devices for their staff.

While it’s not a game changer, the partnership does spell out Apple’s lofty ambitions in the enterprise space. Cook is scheduled to speak at Box's BoxWorks conference on September 29th, another indication that Apple is recalibrating its microscope to focus on the enterprise.


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