IT Employment

Take THAT, Microsoft - IBM is switching to the Mac

IBM is switching to the Mac! IBM is switching to the Mac! Microsoft is DOOMED! Ok, maybe not so much, but IBM's Mac pilot program outlines a great way for your company to decide about how to upgrade software or switch platforms. Read on.

Yes, I know - what an overly dramatic title. But if you checked out some of the other blog entries surrounding the article in RoughlyDrafted about IBM's Mac pilot program you'd think that IBM was tossing every ThinkPad it could find into the dumpsters (or worse) and bringing in MacBook Pro's left and right.

IBM only launched a test program with 24 users. Based on a successful first test, IBM wants to expand that program to possibly another 100 users. Plus, it has an online support group that totals a little over 900 members. That's out of a total of almost 390,000 employees. That's hardly a mass migration worthy of such breathless posts.

Even so - there's something to be found for IT leaders in that article. That's a template for a migration plan that you can use in your organization for any piece of software. IBM found a small core of users that could test the platform. They identified issues such as software compatibility, usability, and end user satisfaction and created a plan to deal with those issues in subsequent tests. Finally, based on the initial outcomes, they decided to test a little further. This type of testing takes time, but gives organizations a chance to identify problems before huge investments are made.

This is a model that you can use if your company employs 390,000 people or 39 people. Don't randomly roll out new hardware or software without some testing and planning. Identify key people in your organization who are unbiased, reliable, and knowledgeable enough to help you in your testing. Identify any problems and obstacles, see if there's a way to get around them, and then keep testing. When you're done, you might be able to make big headlines for your company as well.

41 comments
PKA
PKA

Ho Humm

abc123a
abc123a

This is hilarious. Originally IBM was going to use the MAC OS for it's PC and for some strange reason (well OK Steve Jobs is hard headed) decided to go with MS. They (IBM) created MS. Now they are dumping their own product and moving back to the Mac (hopefully). If IBM had gone with Apple to begin with, we would be running Leopard on a cheap PC. Now we are stuck with crappy Vista. Thanks IBM.

mike_patburgess
mike_patburgess

I am not a MS fan by any stretch of the immagination. Nor am I a MAC fan (used some many years ago) and it was not very intuitive but then again neither is any OS. Does anyone remember PCJr., OS/2, OS2/WARP, microchannel. Oh yeah remember IBM's forray into the networking business and then dumping it just a few years later. The "B" in IBM does not stand for Business but it can however stand for "Blunder". This is something else that they will blunder away at and then shut the project down if something is not quite right. And the grand experiment at IBM continues...

hailbob
hailbob

Have fun with those interoperability issues! I work at a university where we have all three flavors, and it is never a dull moment around here trying to get them all to talk and play well together.

Sysadmin/Babysitter
Sysadmin/Babysitter

The REAL question remains. When will Apple make the OSX OpSys available for "NON-Apple" (read as 'standard' PC's) computers??

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

...they are considering all other options.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

I've seen the same freak out before when HP and Compaq (befroe the merger) were both working with Linux. Everyone thought that they would ditch Win for Linux. As it worked out, it was just to offer an option with new boxes, which were available with Linux OR the Win OS. Without digging into numerous press releases, I can't say that's what IBM is dpoing, but I wouldn't think its anything more than just a way to offer IBM in PC as well as MAC formats.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"IBM only launched a test program with 24 users. ... IBM wants to expand that program to possibly another 100 users. Plus, it has an online support group that totals a little over 900 members." Talk about overkill.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

IBM has been pushing various forms of Linux for a few years. The terminals on their z9's for service are thinkpads running *nix. Their (large scale) storage solutions run *nix with Samba. IBM has had a severe beef with Microsoft for a long time. If they don't leave Microsoft as an option they'll lose many, many customers. Dispatch centers running CAD software (Computer Aided Dispatch) require windows. What about people that have solutions that require AutoCAD or any other MAp3d prducts? What about people (most of the world's GIS) that run ESRI software or even the less popular but nex best choice in MapInfo? All these people have money invested in systems that work reliably with next to no downtime. We can't switch to a new, non proven platform (the software apps, not windows). IBM can do what they want, but if they forego Windows entirely it won't be a smart business move at all. The GIS field and e911 field spend millions each year, not a customer you want to lose!

John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro
John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro

As I mentioned in the Decision Central blog entry: http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/decisioncentral/?p=102 IBM recently started a pilot program to investigate using OS X rather than Windows. From the sounds of some of the Mac fanboy sites, you'd think that Microsoft should just give up and switch to selling pencils. The real nugget of information there is the methodology that IBM used - identify a small group, test, learn, retest. It's a solid plan and one that everyone should use. What kind of plans do you use to test software, and would it be the end of humanity if IBM did decide to switch to OS X?

Regulator1956
Regulator1956

IBM started working with Microsoft on the PC in 1980 and released their first PC mid 1981. The Apple Lisa came out in 1983 and the Mac in early 1984. You're view on history is a bit suspect. Also, Microsoft was a small, but profitable, company in 1980. IBM did not "create" MS - MS was 5 years old by then.

ben@channells
ben@channells

British Telecom have also start to pilot Mac Book's mainly on the design and engineering side. Our testing show they are better when switching between 100Mbit and 1Gb networks the wireless is faster than any XP laptops and VPN more stable or as stable as XP. Vista cannot shift files around the networks. The lower support cost are expected because it just works and keeps on working. it still amazes me that it did it and so quick. On the cost side, all the software is included and far cheaper than Vista and Vista compliant software. PS I'm not a MAC fan, my job still request XP but 2 team members are eagerly awaiting there MacBook pro's

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

That was actually a solid OS. Most ATM's still ran on that about 5 years ago when I worked with financial networks. If IBM does come up with good products, they can't market them for poo.

John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro
John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro

Apple has no interest in making Mac OS X available on non-Apple equipment. Jobs' main goal is to maintain as high of a profit margin on hardware as possible and does so by locking people in with software. When Apple licensed the MacOS in the 90's, hardware sales took a hit, revenue dived, and worse so did the profit margins. Jobs doesn't want that to happen again.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

that this causes MAC to release OSX restrictions and let it run on a pc again. That would be great for me, I'd definetly give it a whirl since I have a spare nVidia 8800 waiting to be auctioned off. I'd build a box around it to run a non-hack version of OSx. Alas, it was the much ballyhooed Mr Jobs that killed that once he retook the reigns at Apple so I doubt he'll let that happen...it's about as likely as Microsoft revealing the source code.

JamesRL
JamesRL

Sadly MapInfo and AutoCAD used to be available on the Mac, back in the System 4.5/6 days(they declined to redo their code for the PowerMac). I understand there are ESRI viewers for the Mac. There are programs every bit as good as AutoCAD - Intergraph Microstation as an example. I worked for a Mac Dealer in the 80s who specialized in the CAD market. Of course there are people running AutoCAD and the full ESRI suite in a VM windows machine on a Mac. James

Sensor Guy
Sensor Guy

A journalist will take the leaked news and run with it. That's what a good journalist should do. Good press for IBM on allegation of extensive knowledge of testing, running pilots, etc. On the other hand, a good management consultant would pause and ask: 1. Is this the first time they've ever run a pilot with Apple? If not, what happened the other times? 2. What prompted this pilot and why this pilot at this time? 3. Was this story intentionally leaked? If so, why leaked at this time? The answers, whatever they may be, could alter the context of this story dramatically.

cab
cab

Love TechRepublic, hate the bias of the ABM bigots. Report REAL results, actual problems and actual successes. Eliminate the sensational (but untrue or exaggerated) headlines. Lets see facts, not personal biased shots.

Timbo Zimbabwe
Timbo Zimbabwe

... considering the network traffic that Macs create, I would never suggest or recommend it to a larger business as the defacto desktop of choice.

RationalGuy
RationalGuy

... to get a foothold in the enterprise. I think it's best strategy would be to go after Unix admins and users first. Though people generally like OS X for the simple and clean UI, everyone sort of forgets that a Mac is a powerful Unix machine with the ability to run Windows virtually if necessary. This means that the Unix folks can do all their work from one machine (and, probably more importantly, it's not on a Windows box). If Apple can get Unix people to switch, it accomplishes several things: 1. Enterprises will begin to build up the necessary infrastructure to support Mac users (AD authentication, software licensing, support personnel, etc.). 2. Macs will get credibility within IT. In many places, Macs are currently only there because "whiny artistic types" "throw tantrums". IT Managers hate the people and the Macs because they have to pay the support costs and only a few "squeaky wheels" get the benefit. Once the Unix folks adopt Macs, the rest of IT is more likely to take the view of, "Holy cow, Macs are real computers after all." 3. IT will get comfortable with Macs in the environment and directly begin to see benefits vis-a-vis Windows. 4. Once word gets out that Macs are in the enterprise, people who currently use Macs at home will press to get them at work as well. This could have a viral effect through the user community, creating a potential bottom-up demand for more Macs, as well as new potential home users. People who use Macs at work will be more likely to buy a Mac the next time they replace their home PC.

dinotech
dinotech

...when IBM released it's hold on the PC. If Apple does become mainstream, you can bet that Microsoft will be coding in Apple. Microsoft isn't going to go away, nor would I want them to. Love or hate them, I've been using most of their products for sometime now, and as I work on my partner strategy with them, I plan on making sure that any installations that I am involved with are clean and tight. I believe that if you do something right the first time, you won't have to do it again. It really doesn't matter to me who ends up on top, but the customer has ALWAYS enjoyed having options. Choice is fundamental to our paradigm in America. I will always be employed - whether it is under a W2 or under my company doesn't matter. We can always adapt and develop new skills (how many of you are former COBOL programmers??). IBM lost control of the PC industry and they tried to gain support for mainframes. But if companies can purchase a desktop computer (help me out baby boomers...) for a lot less than a mainframe or mini-computer, wouldn't that make more sense for ROI and TCO? So, they did. And now we, as professionals and consumers, are dealing with an industry that is generating inferior parts with an operating system that is bloated. I enjoy using their software and have been using Windows Vista Home Premium for a few months now - without any issues. I have yet to install SP1 (although I may have the majority of the fixes installed already). I have been using Office 2007, Outlook with Business Contact Manager, and I am a power user on One Note. So, for now, until something changes in the future, I am going to be selling and using Microsoft products for most of the solutions. However, it would be sin for us not to take a look at IBM's study, and it would also be sin for us not to look at Linux alternatives. Just as the Bible states: "...and be ready always to give an answer.." (IPet3:15) "...be prepared in season and out of season..." (2Tim4:2). This applies to our industry just as much as it does to those who believe in God.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

VM Ware doesn't cut it if you're building multi layer maps for municipalities. You need to take full advantage of the workstation?s power when you add in sewer lines, power lines, 911 addresses, cell tower info, water, electric, sewer, fiber, streets, add in tax data, phone company data, electric co data etc... Not to mention ESRI and AutoCAD are usually part of a larger interactive system linked to endless sql databases and other mapping info from other agencies. It?s just easier, smoother operating and more dependable to run Windows platforms as opposed to running something else for no other reason than to be different. Going the Mac route isn?t going to actually save you any money or be more reliable so why bother? Going the Linux route with VMware will just make the IT staff work harder to come up with the same solution?and there will inevitably be new problems. In that case the OS on the pc may save you money, but the staff?s extra time engineering a solution will cost you in man hours. So what?s the big payout in the end other than getting rid of 1 of many vendors I?m reliant on? My point is that Linux/Apple need to get involved with civil oriented technologies as they are a huge chunk of IT money. I?ll switch solutions when I see one that works. If I experiment with a new one I?m just costing my company money as well as the people that contract us to come with no means to the same end. If you have an end solution that works, is cost efficient and keeps the customer happy who cares what software vendors you use?

RationalGuy
RationalGuy

I cannot believe that Macs generate so much network traffic as to affect LAN stability and performance. Even 100mbps Ethernet is a pretty fat pipe for client machines to fill up, and most enterprises should be on their way to Gig-E to the desktop at this point, if they're not there already. This reminds me of the old arguments that people should hold onto their Netware servers because file sharing was 50% more efficient (or whatever the actual figure was) than with Windows NT 4.0 servers. In reality, we were talking about fractions of milliseconds and the Windows servers fell well within the limits of acceptable performance.

JamesRL
JamesRL

I was working for a company that in the 90s had the largest Mac network in the world, at over 20,000 Macs (and 10,000 PCs and 10,000 Unix workstations). It is true that the network group were not big mac fans, but they managed to have a worldwide network running effectively. Funny the cost of support was the argument then against going all PC at the time - several studies suggested that on a per user basis Macs required less support. Other large organizations that used Macs in large networks at that time - Disney, NASA and Boeing. James

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

2. Macs will get credibility within IT. In many places, Macs are currently only there because "whiny artistic types" "throw tantrums". IT Managers hate the people and the Macs because they have to pay the support costs and only a few "squeaky wheels" get the benefit. I don't have a problem with the price because it's reasonably compared to a Windows workstation level pc. Well I can now after doing my homework, but I still don't feel "safe" in the user not being able to install software as she may know some secrets I don't...or the local Apple guy may help her just to defy "the typical corporate Microsoft fanboy" as he calls me when I'm not around. Funny, the little coffee house twerp won't say anything when I'm around, lol. The part I hate is the unfriendliness with ADUC and the fact I can't lock it down to the level of a windows pc. Not only that, my techs typicallly have zero knowledge of Apples and I end up working on them personally when there is an issue. I most often times find them staring and drooling over the mouse boggled by the lack of a right clicker.

RationalGuy
RationalGuy

"If Apple does become mainstream, you can bet that Microsoft will be coding in Apple." One of Apple's latest Mac vs. PC ad trumpets the arrival of the new version of Microsoft Office for the Mac. I find it very telling that one of the key "features" of the Mac is that Microsoft writes applications for it.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

is getting a foot hold in the corporate world in order to compete with Windows, something Apple is clearly not poised to do. Their business model is ridiculous from a corporate standpoint. Lots of people could run macs, but why? The price point is only comparable to high end workstations which is overkill for most shops. The mac mini isn't exactly cheap either, and corporate users would need something between the mac pro and mac mini. Personally I'd be upset if my government that I spend my tax dollars on scrapped their windows platforms for a bunch of overpriced macs that do the EXACT same job that windows does now for less total ownership cost. The engineering sector is by no means a "small percent," either. It's a multi-billion dollar per year industry. I guess if I were running a business I would deem that to be too small to get involved with. Apple/Mac is great for home use and the occasional "whiner" in the enterprise that screams for a Mac because they are too lazy or set in their ways to do things differently. Apple isn't priced comparably on the large scale and they don't want to play ball with corporate and learn their needs, so I don't see their usefullness in the business world aside from somebody in managemnt want a macbook to show off.

drfez
drfez

I would submit for consideration that the engineering world is a small percent of the whole business environment. I'm gonna guess taking admin type roles, financial services, medical documentation, etc. etc etc make a whole lot larger percent of the business market than engineering and can run MAC's starting today.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

Show me a GIS department or a reliable e911 solution that is Linux or Apple based and I'll gladly look at it. I haven't seen them. I've dealt with several 911 dispatch centers and I've seen everything from complete store bought to complete homegrown. Every homegrown application the IT staff sang about how wonderful they were, be they designed around a mainframe or running on Linux. But upon closer inspection the systems offered no integration with industry standard stuff like call/radio traffic loggers that record and time stamp everything. They also didn't offer capability of other systems like plotting a call to a map using the telco data coming in and tie that in with other systems such as GPS tracking in the ambulances. Sure, in theory you might could get all this stuff to work...but no one is doing it. I've yet to see any homegrown solutions that were worth a crap and all vendors offer windows based solutions. As far as ESRI (Mapinfo sucks, I detest it :) )goes, it's not about finding an alternative...it's about using ESRI. If I work with maps and I deal with several government agencies that look at my data then they need to be able to quickly USE my data. If I run some off the wall application that requires them to translate my data back when they get it then I am adding a totally unnecessary step and causing trouble for everyone. Why bother? In the end it's not going to save a dime because there will always be interoperability issues and wasted man hours. Right now everything flows smoothly which saves my company money. The government agencies I contract for save money, too...which ends up saving taxpayers money. I'm sorry but trying to go a different route in GIS just seems like being different for the sake of being different when it should be about doing whatever it takes to get the job done. Like I said, show me one major city's GIS department, GIS contractor/agency or a e911 call center running something other than ESRI/Mapinfo/AutoCad on a Windows platform. (Mainframe based systems don't count...they are horrible unreliable in this field don't play well with other applications). These people don't need an alternative, they need the vendor they're using now...these products only run on windsows platforms.

JamesRL
JamesRL

Created designs for wiring and piping for nuclear reactors on a Mac using Intergraph Microstation. I'm not arguing that the Mac would be better, just able to compete, all things being equal. In other words, if you had Macs, don't buy PCs just to do high end CAD, you don't need to. Like I said I was around when MapInfo launched and the Mac product was actually better than the PC one was in every way. But market share on the PC meant that the situation changed, and they abandoned the Mac market(like autodesk did). I didn't buy the argument when another previous employer wanted to switch from Macs to PCs, and I don't really buy the reverse argument either. Apple has a role called Software evangelist and they are the ones that try to get third parties to write for the Mac platform. Its a tough job. James

nwoodson
nwoodson

"Other large organizations that used Macs in large networks at that time - Disney, NASA and Boeing." Those aren't important companies...are they? :)

fuego96
fuego96

>"I'm trading one software dictatorship (microsoft) for a hardware/software dictatorship (Apple/Mac)." >"If you're going to restructure your IT solutions front to back, it makes better sense to spend your intellectual resources switching to Linux." Absolutely spot on. You took the words right out of my mouth!

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

At this point even if I could switch my entire network over to Macs with no issues and convince agaencies I work with to do the same...even taking $$$ out of the picture...just doesn't make any sense. I'm trading one software dictatorship (microsoft) for a hardware/software dictatorship (Apple/Mac). One isn't any better or worse than the other IMO so long as the task at hand is getting accomplished. If you're going to restructure your IT solutions front to back, it makes better sense to spend your intellectual resources switching to Linux. That makes more sense as you would at least save money in licensing and still leave hardware choices open. Either way I don't see a need to restructure just to accomplish what I've already accomplished.

grande.christopher
grande.christopher

Macs are built on the Unix kernel... they can be locked down as tight if not tighter than any Windows box. If my CNC programmers had even the slightest urge to use a Mac, I would buy them in a heartbeat. That having been said, specialized training is required, and until Macs hit the mainstream (if ever) that training will come at a premium. Talk all you want about "doing research"... the average end user goes home to kids, bills, pets, a spouse, etc; they don't have time to do research on a machine they may not even want to use. Then of course there is the issue of software compatability and the costs of migration, the hardware costs, etc. In my eyes, unless there is a strong need for an application for which the Mac readily lends itself spread across the entire company, a conversion to Macs would be foolhardy on the part of an IT dept.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

MAc Pro = $2799 on the web and can be had for cheaper. Dell Precision with same specs on the web = $2759...again can be sourced cheaper Comparing "as equipped" the price is on par with most store bought high end workstations. I can build one that outperforms either for less money, but I don't have the time or the techs to build my own pc's in my shop.

RationalGuy
RationalGuy

... in which OEM's machine you're going to buy. Macs are generally more expensive than comparable PCs, so I have to agree with you on this one.

Timbo Zimbabwe
Timbo Zimbabwe

"I don't have a problem with the price because it's reasonably compared to a Windows workstation level pc." I don't buy that one bit.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

But that's just the least of my concerns. Learning how to work on amac is free and doesn't cost me jack. If I have good techs they won't need training...I didn't. A little research never hurt anyone. I'm a big fan of uniformity across the board, and one apple is just that...one happle that I view as uneccessary and a potential risk.

RationalGuy
RationalGuy

There are ways to lock Macs down. There are tools that allow you to manage Unix boxes through the MMC (like Centrify). And if you know Unix shell, you can do a heck of a lot more voodoo to the users than they can do to you. That being said, it's a complete paradigm shift. Just learning Unix file permissions can take a solid afternoon for an experienced Windows admin. The biggest fear for Windows admins, as the first response points out, is that they don't know what they don't know. In general Unix folks are self-sufficient anyway. This is why I think if they are the ones to adopt the Macs first, an enterprise can really introduce them to the environment in an easier way, without the full-on support headache you might encounter with the regular Windows user community.

jbodar
jbodar

Doesn't that just help prove his point about support costs? To deploy Macs you also have to train your "drooling techs" to support them, in addition to any costs incurred by changing over software, right?