updated 12:05 am EDT, Tue April 22, 2008
Macs work well in IT
Apple's growing marketshare among end-users is helping push the Mac's acceptance in corporate America. InfoWorld notes the Macs are spilling out of its traditional areas of marketing departments and media companies and into wider array of business environments, thanks to, what it calls, "the confluence of a number of computing trends, not the least among them a rising tide of end-user affinity for the Apple experience." The trends, the column says, are "making it easier for tech departments to say yes to the Mac by facilitating IT's ability to provide enterprise-grade Mac management and support." In particular, the article cites growing browser competition, a move toward universal Web-based computing, virtualization, more standard connectivity, advanced enterprise management software, and more, but concludes that Macs are "close, not equal."
As part of the reason why 'no Macs' mentality is no longer a defensible IT strategy, the columnist notes resurgence of Firefox as a compelling alternative browser to Microsoft Internet Explorer and web-based, browser-agnostic services such as SaaS, which offer a diverse array of applications -- from sales-force automation through supply-chain coordination.
The article also notes that increased compatibility -- both physical and virtual -- have helped bring the Mac to the enterprise. In particular, more industry standard connectors (USB, WiFi, etc.) have allowed enterprises to more easily integrate Macs into existing environments, while more industry-standard parts such as Intel processors have facilitated the development of VMware Fusion and Parallels Desktop to allow Macs to run non-Mac OS operating systems, including Windows and Linux.
Both management software and growing support for Mac among backup, connectivity, and other enterprise software, have also helped prevent the Mac from becoming a second-class citizen in enterprise computing environments. While Mac management tools are less expensive, the article does note that there is a cost of support two different operating systems.
However, critical for compatibility and for cross-platform workflows, Mac Office is not quite the God-send that many expect with product lifecycle issues that leave Mac users years behind and display incompatibilities -- due to differing graphics engines-- lack of Microsoft's VBscript and somewhat controversial Entourage email client, continue to haunt the the Mac OS platform.
The columnist, however, concludes that "it would be na´ve to take in the Mac under the illusion of it being an equal player.... But the Mac fits much better than it ever has, and the trend toward cloud computing is reducing the importance of the client platform to access both internal and external resources. Mac manageability is on par with Windows standards. So you can let your users choose the equipment they prefer, without undue worry."