I have questions about Apple Business Essentials

Apple’s recently announced Business Essentials program looks like it could be a versatile and useful tool for SMEs. It’s easy to see that the interface is derived from Apple Business Manager, the cloud service for larger companies’ IT stores. (The latter is often used with one of the providers of enterprise mobility management (EMM) or unified endpoint management (UEM), which uses Apple’s mobile device management platform (MDM).)

Apple Business Essentials is now available in beta and provides tools including iCloud + for Work, AppleCare, round-the-clock Apple support, device and application management, and automated setup using collections and smart groups. The service will initially be available in the United States with rates ranging from $ 2.99 per month per month. uses for $ 12.99 per month per. user depending on the number of devices and storage requirements.

While Apple has hailed the service as practically a panacea for small businesses, the company’s announcement leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Here’s what companies need to answer before jumping on board with the service when it arrives in early 2022.

What is real-world scalability? I do not see this scaling far beyond 50 or so people, and certainly not up to 500 at all. Perhaps the number of 500 users, as Apple says, is the typical dividing line between SMEs and larger companies. Maybe there will be automation technologies that make scaling easier. But how the service is designed to scale, upscaling in the real world can be quite different, as is often the case with new technology.

Assuming it is scalable to 500 users, what happens when you reach employee 501? Are you forced to migrate to something else? Can the user simply not log in? Are you allowed a temporary or permanent passport? Is that limit purely theoretical and not a hard and fast limit?

If it’s a tough rule and IT has to migrate to another service, how difficult will it be? While this is a soft rule, some companies will grow out of the tool if they need more options than Business Essentials offers. What are the migration / transition processes when a company decides it needs something more? If everything is stored in iCloud, how do you migrate this data to OneDrive, Workspace or Dropbox?

New iCloud collaboration features are coming? If iCloud is to be the default storage system, this can cause its own issues, especially if the default is dependent on Apple’s iWork apps. Just using iCloud and iWork is not scalable beyond a dozen or so people. It’s not even in the same universe that Microsoft and Google offer.

What happens to multi-platform organizations? Windows PCs and Chromebooks are not approved against managed Apple IDs – can this be added to Azure AD or Workspace or Okta or another identity provider? Apple Business Manager can, but it is not an easy process to set up. On-premise AD may be a realistic option, but even that may be beyond the reach of the simplicity that Apple claims.

What level or support is included? Is it standard AppleCare, or is there IT support for businesses? Are there any SLAs to support? Do you have access to Apple’s business engineers when needed?

What education is available? If it’s like the latest iterations of Apple’s certifications for technicians or helpdesk staff, there are likely to be network and sysadmin issues that will not be covered as they tend to be more focused on troubleshooting and repairs. Business Essentials, based on what we know so far, may not solve some of the challenges of a network environment.

What’s the point of 1 device / user tier? Most knowledge workers at least need an iPhone and a Mac, so it just seems like a way of saying, “Yes, we have a cheaper option than other MDM providers.” Or it could mean that Apple expects some companies to be multi-platform and that users will want a PC or Chromebook as their main computer instead of a Mac. If so, then we’re back to the questions above about multi-platform concerns.

Is there a reason an organization with multi-platform MDM is already configured to consider Apple’s offerings at all? Apple has said that MDM and Business Essentials can coexist, but is it worth the price if you’ve already configured? Is there anything special, or is it intended for companies without MDM to use Business Essentials as a springboard to an MDM environment?

How does this relate to other players, both Apple players like Jamf and Kandji and broader options like Microsoft and VMware? How does an organization rate the value of what Apple offers, and is it worth it compared to the competition?

Without answers to at least some, if not most, of these questions, it is difficult to define both the target customers and the value proposition that Business Essentials will offer.

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