Apple

What Apple needs to do to make serious progress in the enterprise

Jack Wallen highlights two very crucial areas that Apple could focus on to improve its presence in the larger companies across the globe.

apple_enterprise.jpg

Apple is, without a doubt, one of the single most powerful driving forces in the world of technology. That being the case, why is its inroad to the enterprise such a long, uphill climb? How could it be that such a well-oiled machine like the Mac would have problems gaining acceptance into the larger world of business? Macs are reliable, have the security and stability of a UNIX-based core, and the integration between software and hardware cannot be bested.

And yet...

Macs tend to be relegated to the graphically-inclined departments and multi-media tasks. You won't walk into an enterprise-level company to see a farm of iMacs and Macbooks on desks. There are reasons for that. In fact, I would hypothesize that there are two very crucial areas that Apple could focus on to improve its presence in the larger companies across the globe. Let's examine those areas.

Cost

There's no way around the fact that Apple hardware has a significantly higher cost than the standard fare. That cost ensures that you are getting not only impeccable design, but outstanding integration and long-lasting hardware. However, no matter how beautiful or long-lasting that hardware is, big businesses aren't buying it. Why? Simple... the cost. If your business has a budget of X, and X would buy you 100 PC-based machines vs. 60 Macs, which route are you going to take? Of course you'd take the route that gets you the most for less. That's how businesses work. Apple, on the other hand, wants everyone to pay that price because, in the end, you get what you pay for.

Organizations that pay less for the PC know that they're getting the Windows platform, which will suffer the slings and arrows of malware, viruses, and the like. What those businesses don't quite seem to understand is that, in the end, the cost associated with deploying Windows-based PCs evens out with the Mac. Add to that the difference in shelf-life between Macs and PCs, and you can see that, not only does the difference balance out, the scales seem to tip to Macs at being the more cost-effective solution.

But big business doesn't always think "in the long run." Companies want immediate returns to empower their bottom line in the now -- not in an unknown future. What's fascinating about this issue is that most big businesses will opt for the pricier iPad over the Android tablet -- but when it comes to the PC or laptop, the PC still dominates.

Apple does have a Volume Purchase Program for Business. Unfortunately, that program is for iOS apps and books, not hardware. In order for Apple to make serious progress in the enterprise, this has to change. Apple needs to swallow its pride and ego and understand that, in order for big businesses to open their minds (and wallets), it's going to have to develop a volume pricing model for iMacs and Macbooks.

Think like Windows

I'm not talking about the Windows platform per say. What I mean is simple: The Windows platform is built for business. This is especially true on the server level. With Active Directory, you can create an ideal structure with which to manage your staff's login, security levels, and much more. The Apple platform includes LDAP, which does a great job with handling the sign-in duties for a heterogenous network. What it does not have is the ability to manage group policies. There are third-party solutions that can handle this task, but Apple needs it built in. In fact, I would go so far as to say what Apple really needs is to develop the equivalent of group policy and roll it into LDAP.  This would go a very long way to help business adoption of Mac in the enterprise. 

Apple could even go a few steps further and roll together an Enterprise Server Edition of OS X that would include things like:

  • Web server
  • Exchange-equivalent mail server
  • Group Policy
  • Certificate server
  • Terminal server

If you coupled the above list with the new Mac Pro, Apple would have a major powerhouse of a business server, and larger companies would be remiss to not give Apple a try.

Apple isn't really all that far from slipping into the enterprise. By taking on the above two issues, the hippest tech company on the planet could do some major damage to Microsoft's marketshare within the enterprise world. But until they make such changes, Apple desktops and laptops will have to be happy being relegated to small companies and individuals.


About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

26 comments
RegilioM80
RegilioM80

I was going to comment about how I, as an IT manager at a public university, feel you've missed the mark almost entirely, but then I found saxdaddy's comment which really sums it up nicely.  The ever growing environment of technology support is "doing more with less" and in educations poorly funded manor sometimes nothing at all.  My department has 8 people supporting a few dozen VMs on 3 physical servers, nearly 1000 clients, and countless projects from web applications, research initiatives, all the way down to training typical desktop computing.  If we deployed Macs more than we already do (about 20%) we would have a request waiting time of weeks!  With our windows deployments we can push settings, updates, and software to 1000s of computers with just a few minutes of work.  Something that, even with products like deploy studio or Jamf, would take tremendously longer to do.  Finally, it's never in an enterprise's best interest to require end users to be responsible for their own environment.  Enterprise simply needs something that works, can be controlled (not just managed), and can be SECURED!  That is why Windows still wins that war.  By the way; I have all apple products at home and as my mobile solutions at work, and I love them all.  I love everything about Mac for me but to meet the needs of my "business" Windows makes much more sense in MOST scenarios.   


Based on your background (as you reported on your LinkedIn profile) you are a perfect candidate for a Mac.  You are tech savvy and creative.  What I don't see is any credentials as to why you feel you can write in the subject of Apple in the Enterprise.  I don't see any enterprise environment experience.  In fact, I read your article to get some insight and hopefully even some hope.  Instead i found yet another blog article on the topic where I feel i'm more qualified to be writing on the subject.  Please correct me if I'm wrong.  

davidthornton
davidthornton

Vulpinemac hit the nail on the head. I've even heard IT guys admit that they lean towards Windows in the enterprise for job security. Cue Mordac the Refuser. 

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

Only one real answer, and neither of the ones above is the correct one: It's IT's highly-biased anti-Apple zealotry. More than once Apple has proven that its reliability and ease of use make the Mac 200%-300% MORE productive than the "equivalent" Windows machine. Add to this the fact that Microsoft Office has become the default office software pack despite its high and repeating price for every new version which is both over-featured and difficult to use and you've got the most expensive enterprise department dictating hardware and software to the entire corporation.

saxdaddy
saxdaddy

Jack, you didn't even begin to scratch the surface.  The lack of Mac adoption for enterprise customers is due primarily to the fact that Apple could care less about how to manage their own platform.  When pressed about questions like policies, logging, removing admin rights, and 100 other systems management items, I've had more than one senior SE at Apple tell me "you're thinking about it wrong because we do it differently".  So concerns about storing passwords and enterprise encryption keys in the cloud fall on deaf ears at Apple.  Or, as I found out yesterday, the fact that Apple offered all my enterprise client a free upgrade to Mavericks rather than allow me to select if I want that published to them shows that they simply don't have a clue how to manage a platform for a company of more than 3 workstations.

But my all time favorite Apple comeback to any complaint (again from more than one person) is "yeah, we don't have a solution for that.  But have we told you how much we're making on iPhone sales?".

Apple, do your enterprise customers a favor.  Either coagulate your defication and acquire a decent product like JAMF's Casper Suite or port Xcode to another platform and give up on OSX.  That way I can deploy a real enterprise OS and still allow my developers to code for iOS. </rant>

tulaipaul
tulaipaul

When Apple had to slice down its order, it has certainly created a churning. Apple with its own marketing policy and distinctive products have been able to reach a segment belonging to a class in particular. We have to admit that MS has reached even further. Cost is another important factor that has hindered Apple. Similarly there are lot of ad companies who focus only on their respective regions. On the other appnext or admob works on the international level.

Joshua Morden
Joshua Morden

They need to develop their own thin client Mac. Virtualization is the future for the enterprise, and Microsoft and Citrix already lead the pack in this category. No company will pay for a full-blown Mac for its regular office users. Since the thin client market is already saturated and secured by various OEMs, I think the best strategy for Apple would be to greatly improve its server offerings to provide the backbone for a virtualization network.

Wales Nematollahi
Wales Nematollahi

(1) Lower the cost; (2) Collaborate with Corel to get all the latter's products on Mac; (3) Collaborate with writers of bioinformatics and other software for Linux; (4) Improve the code for developers (5) Ignore the trolls who pretend Windows OSs are better.

scotttt
scotttt

For Apple to succeed in big business it has to stop treating all users like idiots and let them have some control over the product.

Saud Hassan Kazia
Saud Hassan Kazia

just like ios has beat almost all in the game due to the early adopters and support (android is catching up fast but is let down only by defragmentation), windows has everyone beat because of all the compatible software hardware accessories and support you can get. whenever I try Linux or yuck Macs...I feel like im' boxed in a corner with few options especially free ones

Randy Myers
Randy Myers

Cost is prohibitave and LINUX is just as good as Appel's OS if not better in my opinion.

Michael Lucas
Michael Lucas

The price of an Apple product will not go down. That is a good thing. Why because I want quality not a quantity BS product. If they can maintain quality and lower price great if not I am okay with it. My MAC out performs anything work has (2 laptops within 3yrs) and it is already 3yrs old. That is how good an apple product I have. If you cannot afford an apple then get your cheap ass laptop that is as big as brick house. As for the X server part. I can dig it as for what the article states. That would be a good thing to see done.

ron
ron

Apple doesn't have a lot to say about some of this. I'll be installing Parallels & Windows 7 tomorrow for a customer who's portfolio management site only works with IE-- go figure!

Craig_B
Craig_B

I don't think Apple really wants to be a main player in the Enterprise, they are geared to the consumer and specific Enterprise applications.  Microsoft is more than just Windows, they have many servers/services and applications that play together (AD, SharePoint, Office, etc).  Why does every Mac in our office have a Windows VM on them because in order to do certain tasks you need to do it in Windows.  Because of the wide understanding and acceptance of Windows it is the de facto system in business and in the home.

SalSte
SalSte

Apple's biggest issue towards enterprise adoption is their attitude towards changing standards. Today it's mini display port, tomorrow it's Thunderbolt. Today it's standard Unix Samba, tomorrow it's Apple's own version that doesn't work with MFPs. Enterprise technology is built on a standard, with every iteration Apple changes without any concern for businesses or power users. Until that attitude changes they will lag behind Windows in the business world.

operation2088
operation2088

Personally I don't think there will ever be a day when there will never be an article like this regarding MAC vs PC.

adornoe
adornoe

What??? Another Mac vs PC in the enterprise article???

Haven't we had enough of those lately, and hasn't the Apple side lost the argument in each discussion?  Must we have to put up with this Mac vs PC nonsense continuously?  Macs can't win the argument.

Macs start out being more expensive.  That can't be argued.

Macs come with higher initial costs, including the higher costs of integrating with environments which already had Windows devices installed.

Macs, for certain, don't last any longer than comparable PCs.  Macs may come with better looking shells, but, the internal components are basically the same as for PCs.  


For the price of a Mac, one could purchase 2 PCs, and each one of those PCs can perform the same functions as one Mac, so, the enterprise player could have double the value with 2 PCs. 

 And Macs come with an OS which doesn't get much more than just a few years of support, unlike Windows OSes which will be supported for 10 years or more.  


So, are we to expect another Mac vs PC argument next week?  Can we please be spared the fanatical and blind love that these authors keep subjecting us to in these forums?

 

 

 


Jaypmorgan
Jaypmorgan

Whaaahhhh!?? Noooooooo! I like a lot of what you write, but here you are way off-base. Have you ever managed a large number of Macs in an enterprise environment? After reading the above, I suspect not.

It is NOT, in any way, shape, or form easier or cheaper to deploy Macs in volume than Windows machines. There are a lot more and higher-quality options for imaging, remotely installing software, and configuring settings, both free and paid. Add in the relentless upgrade cycle and lack of enterprise software support (forcing many to run Windows alongside OS X) and the ridiculously-unmanageable App store... Both in terms of money and time (which in business IS money), Windows wins hands-down. No contest.

And on hardware quality/integration Mac only wins on aesthetics. They produce breathtakingly-beautiful hardware, but breathtakingly-buggy software. And since most of the internals are commodity hardware now, produced in the same factories as the PC counterparts, quality and reliability are no better. In fact, I have observed a much higher percentage of DOA and other failures on the Mac side, then from the cheap, and slow, but reliable Dells we get.

That said you absolutely CAN control settings via policy, both user and machine, with Macs using open directory. It isn't nearly comprehensive as what Microsoft has slowly evolved over a couple of decades, but you can control a lot of the basics.

davidthornton
davidthornton

@scotttt Control? When is the last time you used a Mac? 1999? 

The modern Mac is built on Unix, and as such there are ways to control most anything the computer does. 

davidthornton
davidthornton

@Craig_B The presence of VMs on your Macs isn't proof that Apple isn't capable of doing those tasks, just that Windows and Windows-based solutions are entrenched in your organization. 

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

@Craig_B 

AD -- Added Cost

SharePoint -- Added Cost

Office -- Added Cost

etc... -- Added cost.

You're paying more for every single add-on--including the OS itself--than needed when you use Windows. The ONLY savings is in the up-front cost of the hardware which is itself more expensive than necessary due to the frequent change outs typically demanded by the corporation due to increasing replacements as they age. The typical hardware change-out of Windows machines is three years, though one international bank had to change out its entire inventory of one brand of laptop after only a single year due to excessive breakdowns. Buying cheaper in that case ended up costing more than double and even the replacement is showing some 'buggy' tendencies.

Mac -- Not that much more expensive up front, averages more than twice the productive lifespan

Networking -- lower cost due to almost completely automated connections

Office suite -- Less than 1/3rd the price and MUCH easier to use.

And yes, there are system policy capabilities available that are just as effective at lower cost. They're just different because they don't require Windows to operate.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

@Jaypmorgan : You're calling Dells "reliable"?

Now I KNOW you're blowing smoke! I have never, EVER, seen a "reliable" Dell PC. Even when babied they need factory service within one year.

spinebarry
spinebarry

@Vulpinemac @Jaypmorgan 

I'm not a Dell fanboy, but I have an 8 1/2 year old Dell Dimension 4700 running Win XP and the only thing I ever had to do to it was replace a cooling fan.  I just got an Apple with a 256 GB SSD.  It's a beautiful machine, but it is filled with idiotsyncrasies (sic).  It won't run Java on Chrome, Office for Mac 2011 is buggy, awkward to use and sends out emails that are an embarrassment.  The native Mac software is Mickey Mouse kid stuff.  I'm going back to Windows where I can run reliable grownup software.  I'm going to sell the iMac, and go back to my old Dell until a manufacturer of windows machines makes one with a 256 GB SSD.  I haven't been able to find one yet.  What the heck are they waiting for?  It's a tough choice between PC's and Mac's because just like with political parties, the only difference is one sucks and the other one blows.  But personally, I can't imagine using an iMac for business.

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