Today Apple sent out a promotional email titled "Mac in the Enterprise," marking the company's official return to the enterprise marketplace. This should come as no surprise to those that read our article on Apple poaching enterprise sales people from RIM. However, Apple's enterprise strategy has been a mystery for the past couple years. As InfoWorld reports, Apple's VP of enterprise sales left the company in 2008 and was never replaced. Apple also recently announced it will shut down Xserve at the end of this month.

Last summer, Steve Jobs expressed his distaste for the enterprise market:

What I love about the consumer market that I always hated about the enterprise market is that we come up with a product, we try to tell everybody about it, and every person votes for themselves. They go yes or no. And if enough of them say yes, we get to come to work tomorrow. You know? That's how it works. It's really simple. That's why in the enterprise market it's not so simple. The people that use the products don't decide for themselves. And the people that make those decisions sometimes are confused. We love just trying to make the best product in the world for people, and having them tell us by how they vote with their wallets whether we're on track or not.

However, the iPhone and iPad have been gaining traction in the enterprise, as have Macintosh desktops. Meanwhile, Apple has taken steps to improve enterprise support for iOS. So it's been clear for some time that Apple hasn't abandoned the enterprise market altogether.

I haven't seen a copy of Apple's email yet, so I don't know the details. InfoWorld reports that it is "chockfull of information for large businesses on how to integrate Macs, iPhones, and iPads into their IT ecosystems." This, combined with its enterprise sales force, is clear evidence that Apple is back in the enterprise game.

With interest in iPads and iPhones, and ever-present concerns about the security of Microsoft Windows, 2011 could be the year that Apple starts making serious gains in the business market.