Apple on Monday announced a partnership with Cisco that bolsters its commitment to the enterprise. Under the deal, Cisco will optimize its networks for iOS devices and apps, and the companies will integrate Apple’s iPhone with Cisco enterprise environments.
The alliance also will provide “unique collaboration” on the iPhone and iPad, the companies said.
The partnership aims “to improve the experience between mobile devices and desk and softphones, which is today fragmented,” said Cisco spokesperson Linda Horiuchi. “Collaboration should be a seamless experience for employees.”
Toward that goal, Cisco will optimize its networks for iOS across mobile, cloud and on-premises collaboration tools such as Cisco Spark, Cisco Telepresence and Cisco WebEx.
Cisco “has a 95 percent market share among Fortune 500 companies, and iOS is now in nearly every Fortune 500 and Global 500 company, creating an opportunity for us to impact businesses worldwide and, ultimately, change how millions of people work,” Horiuchi told the E-Commerce Times.
The deal represents a turning point in relations between the companies.
“This is a significant change from the contentious relationship [Cisco and Apple] have had in the past,” remarked Michael Brandenburg, an industry analyst at Frost & Sullivan.
Benefits for the Enterprise
Products resulting from the Apple-Cisco partnership will allow corporate employees to use iPhones and iPads for new workflows and to work with their preferred tools, Horiuchi said.
End users will get improved iOS application performance on Cisco networks and a better enterprise voice experience on the iPhone. Further, integrating iOS with Cisco Unified Communications will help embed collaboration and communications into apps and business processes, she noted.
IT departments will be able to lower their costs, as iOS optimization on Cisco “delivers lower mobile and WAN charges, and empowers IT with improved visibility and control for policy enforcement,” Horiuchi pointed out.
“We’ll help improve app performance and response times and offload enterprise networks,” she added.For example, iOS and app updates and other content can be locally cached, which will slash network traffic.
By leveraging Cisco Enterprise Unified Communications infrastructure, businesses will be able to eliminate some roaming and toll costs.
“At the minimum, Cisco gets to ensure that Apple devices connect seamlessly on enterprise networks, and no doubt gets to work closely with Apple engineers to ensure that their own apps — Spark, WebEx and Jabber, to name a few — work really well on iOS,” she said.
Supporting the Apple-IBM Team-Up
Apple last year partnered with IBM to go after enterprise business.
Cisco views its partnership with Apple and the resulting products as “complementary to the Apple and IBM offerings,” Horiuchi said.
“While Apple has previously supported the encroachment of their consumer devices into the enterprise, the IBM and Cisco deals show that Apple truly is committed to being an enterprise player,” Frost & Sullivan’s Brandenburg said.
“We’re already seeing compelling vertical solutions coming out of the Apple-IBM deal,” he told the E-Commerce Times. “I would expect more ready-made enterprise mobile applications, with the added bonus of an optimized network experience.”
What’s in It for Cisco?
Cisco is strong: It delivered 4 percent revenue growth for Q4 2015, beating analysts’ expectations, according to Morningstar. All product segments performed well except service provider video, which was sold to Technicolor for US$600 million in July.
Cisco’s revenue is estimated to grow on average by 3 percent year-over-year through 2019, Morningstar predicted.
Its dominance in data networking is unchallenged, and network managers view its Ethernet switches and routers, which account for nearly two-thirds of its revenue, as the gold standard.
With Cisco’s competitive position expected to remain sound for the next decade, why would it want to team up with Apple?
“We’re partnering with the leader in consumer technology with the biggest mobile platform to tackle some of the most pressing problems that businesses face today,” Horiuchi said. “That’s huge.”
Translation: Cisco is planning for the future — which increasingly will be mobile.