PCs

Sanity check: Are Macs ready for the enterprise?

Despite the fact that Apple has done little to court the corporate market, Macs are quietly making inroads into the enterprise. But have Macs reached the point where they can be offered as a choice to average users? Here are some answers from an IT perspective.

The better question might be, "Are enterprises ready for Macs?"

Steve Jobs and his team at Apple have purposefully ignored the corporate computer market for the past decade. They don't develop corporate versions of their desktop and laptop systems. The don't have software or deployment tools to ease business roll outs. They don't have high-powered sales professions regularly pitching large corporate IT departments. They don't have a specialized tech support options aimed at businesses.

Despite all of that, Macs are making significant inroads into the enterprise. According to a Yankee Group survey of 250 companies, 87% of them have Macs on their networks. Two years ago, the number was 48%.

Michelle Goins, chief information officer at Juniper, told Business Week, "If we opened it up today, I think 25% of our employees would choose Macs." Juniper is one of several enterprises running trials and experiments with Macs to evaluate user satisfaction and impact on the business. Other prominent companies currently testing Macs include Cisco and IBM.

Why use a Mac in business?

There are several factors driving the adoption and experimentation of Macs in the enterprise:

  • The switch to Intel processors has given Macs more mainstream flair
  • Solid performance, powered by Apple hardware and Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard)
  • The tepid response to Windows Vista is driving some users to consider a Mac
  • Users who buy Macs at home and like the ease-of-us are asking for them at work
  • There are some multimedia programs -- GarageBand and Final Cut Pro -- on the Mac that are superior to their PC counterparts
  • Apple is trendy, cool, and cutting-edge right now -- assisted by iPod and iPhone

There's also one other major trend that is working in Apple's favor and it was pointed out by BusinessWeek in its recent article, The Mac in the Gray Flannel Suit:

"Demographic trends may be on Apple's side. All those college kids wielding iPods have created a deep pool of potential Mac users. According to a survey of 1,200 undergrads by researcher Student Monitor this year, 43% of college students who intend to buy a laptop plan to buy a Mac, up from 8% in 2003. 'Many of today's technology decision-makers will ultimately be replaced by Mac users,' says Eric Weil, managing partner of Student Monitor."

What doesn't work on Mac?

There are some big caveats to running Macs in the enterprise, especially for those who have already been working on a PC:

  • There's no full Microsoft Exchange e-mail client available
  • Line of business applications and custom apps designed for Windows aren't accessible
  • Many Excel spreadsheets, macros, and reports can't connect to back-end databases
  • Web sites optimized for Internet Explorer (especially ActiveX) don't work
  • There's no built-in screen lock functionality for when users step away

You can run Parallels or VMware Fusion to virtualize a version of Windows to run any of the Windows apps mentioned above, but that defeats the purpose of going to a Mac, plus it increases licensing and support costs.

Who can benefit from Macs?

There are several types of business users who can benefit from having a Mac:

  • Audio/podcast editors, who can use GarageBand
  • Video editors, who can use Final Cut Pro
  • Users who exclusively use Web tools (including Webmail) and are intimidated by computers
  • Uses have who have a lot of Mac experience and who simply worker faster and better on the OS X platform
  • IT professionals who manage a mix of Windows, Mac, and Linux/UNIX systems

While other business users beyond the ones on this list may like the idea of having a Mac -- usually for the cool factor -- most of them won't be able to benefit from the advantages of a Mac. And in fact, many mainstream business users will become frustrated when they realize that some of their vital applications such as Outlook e-mail and database-connected Excel reports don't work on Mac.

Bottom line for IT leaders

Macs have made a strong move into the enterprise during the past two years. There are some users who can benefit from having a Mac instead of a Windows-based PC, but IT needs to carefully examine and quantify the potential benefits and ROI. There are definitely some vital programs that don't work on Mac, and virtualizing Windows to run those apps is not a valid solution on a large scale because it leads to additional licensing and support costs.

UPDATE: 10:20 AM, May 19, 2008 -- In the discussion forums, some helpful users have pointed me to several screen lock workarounds that have satisfied me enough to remove that item from the list of Mac caveats in a corporate environment. However, keep in mind that these are workarounds and none of them are part of default installation of Mac OS X and are something that IT would have to specifically configure when deploying Macs.

About

Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the upcoming book, Follow the Geeks (bit.ly/ftgeeks).

206 comments
jonybader
jonybader

o The switch to Intel processors has given Macs more mainstream flair. You mean they can now run Windows. o Solid performance, powered by Apple hardware and Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) Apple "hardware"? Like Dell "hardware"? Its just a PC with a different operating system now. The only hardware by Apple is the casing and peripherals. o The tepid response to Windows Vista is driving some users to consider a Mac. Vista is not as bad as its made out to be. Even then, XP still works for everything except DX10. o Users who buy Macs at home and like the ease-of-us are asking for them at work Do they know most "work" software is written for Windows? o There are some multimedia programs ??? GarageBand and Final Cut Pro ??? on the Mac that are superior to their PC counterparts What did you compare them to? Windows Movie Maker (free)? o Apple is trendy, cool, and cutting-edge right now ??? assisted by iPod and iPhone Sanity check: Why did you even think of listing that as a valid reason? * Audio/podcast editors, who can use GarageBand * Video editors, who can use Final Cut Pro Seeing as the vast majority of computer users are, in fact, not any kind of audio or video editors, the number of people who benefit from this is extremely low. (You don't need a program like Garageband to make a simple podcast. Plus, "podcasting" is nothing but uploading audio.) * Users who exclusively use Web tools (including Webmail) and are intimidated by computers I can't double click on the Firefox icon, it might eat my pointer! * Uses have who have a lot of Mac experience and who simply worker faster and better on the OS X platform It would be easier for them, but what does it say about them if they can't bother to learn to use an OS for their jobs. With which they make a living. * IT professionals who manage a mix of Windows, Mac, and Linux/UNIX systems I fail to see how having yet another OS to manage can benefit them.

mscarton
mscarton

It's interesting following the train of thought provided by this article and the comments made thus far. Even after 30 years in this business, it strikes me that we overlook the most fundamental question/issue, "Why are we here?" The Mac is making serious inroads into the business environment for a very simple reason -- many of our business users are simply more productive on a Mac than they are on a Windows system delivered at a comparable level of investment. And the biggest part of that investment is user training. IT organizations exist to facilitate the effectiveness and productivity of their constituency. Period. So it's not really a question of whether the Mac's are ready for the business environment. It's a question of what we need to do to help our users exploit them in a secure, reliable fashion and to secure the assets that are the fruits of their labors. I remember when business wouldn't support cell phones. They "distracted from the business venue". And when managers wouldn't use a keyboard because they thought that it was demeaning. Welcome to the new millennium. Maybe a better article might be "Making Macs ready for the enterprise."

tomtermini
tomtermini

There???s no full Microsoft Exchange e-mail client available -- are we talking servers here? how about, Windoze is not fully LDAP compliant? if we're talking Exchange e-mail client only, well, you are clearly thinking a shop dedicated to Redmond already. Line of business applications and custom apps designed for Windows aren???t accessible -- again, see above. Why not run Java or other line-of-business apps like SugarCRM instead? Many Excel spreadsheets, macros, and reports can???t connect to back-end databases -- why not? Databases that use JDBC and ODBC connections abound on Macs. And, unlike MSSQL, they are actually SQL92 compliant. Web sites optimized for Internet Explorer (especially ActiveX) don???t work -- So Micro$oft doesn't adhere to browser standards... that is a problem for Firefox or Safari users? Come on, Macs are enterprise ready. !2 million iTunes users accessing WebObjects on OS X can't be wrong. Or UPS, Toyota Canada, BBC, the U.S. federal government at the FTC, EPA, NIH, VA, or DOD.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

...Smack After the effects where off you are left with an empty feeling and need another Hit, roll on the next revolution for the office PC...and

senju
senju

I have over 30 Macintoshes running alond side with windows. Entourage works fine with Exchange2003. The problem is that setting up AD for Macintosh is not quite there. Yes you can log on to AD on the Macintosh with single log-on. But the Mac seems to want to display AD servers in its browsers. A user could log on to a server (if they knew the passwords). This has not been addressed! Also, Keychain can get messy when you enforce password changes from AD. You can save your password using keychain. The Entourage first looks in the keychain which could have saved expired passwords. If you changed your password using via windows and then go back to Entourage, you will not be able to log on with the new password. So does Macintosh work with AD, windows and Exchange? Yes but not the way we would want it to. Note: you can solve some of these security issues by having the Macintosh Users authenticate with an X-SERVER which can solve these issues. Maybe that is how Apple plan is. You need to purchase an XServe for best AD and Macintosh solutions.

Elementalism
Elementalism

Apparently even OSX10.5 has a bug\lazy programming issue. With a native Windows 2003 active directory AD will encrypt traffic between server and client. OSX10.4 or lower doesnt work and either requires a 3rd party utility or for your to turn this feature off on your AD which opens you up to man in the middle attacks. I honestly couldnt believe that crap when we were trying to figure out why our Macs stopped being able to work with file shares when we demoted our last win2k ad controller and moved to a native 2003 AD.

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

Oh jeez. Probably mentioned already but here's some thoughts. GarageBand and Final Cut Pro may be usefull in the company's multimedia department but not elsewhere. There is no central administration [think Active directory]. Macs still cost way more than a PC with the same specs. so what are you paying extra for? Who cares how the Mac looks. It's not the It equivalent of a fashion show. Macs still account for under 10% of the computer usage. So you have to train 90% of your staff on how to use a Mac - let alone have IT staff that know the insides and outs of Macs. [When I was job hunting, the number of jobs that requested - not REQUIREd - Mac expertise was minimal.] A further issue is choice of software as well as hardware. A lot of hardware out there still doesn't have a proper Mac driver. Even worse, I've seen plenty of them not work.

eric.ediger
eric.ediger

For an executive Editor, I'm shocked at how misinformed you are. Had your article been written seven-or-so years ago, you would have at least some of your information correct. I work in an enterprise environment in which 90% is run on Apple hardware and software. Since it would take a full article to rebut your article, I'll just bullet point the more glaring inaccuracies, of which their are many. In order of appearance: 1. Corporate versions of their hardware are typically delineated by the "Pro" moniker - Macbook vs. Macbook Pro, iMac vs. Mac Pro, etc.. 2. Software deployment tools include OS X Server for managing builds, NetBoot, Apple Remote Desktop for deploying software and general asset management. We use those tools to manage a pool of roughly 1,200 Apple workstations. 3. Their version of "high-powered sales professions regularly pitching large corporate IT departments" is called Enterprise Named Accounts - and I meet with them quarterly. They are classic enterprise sales guys. 4. Their versions of "specialized tech support options aimed at businesses" are called Select, Preferred and Alliance Support - http://www.apple.com/support/products/macosxserver_sw_supt.html 5. The switch to Intel processors has nothing to do with "Mainstream flair" and everything to do with a long term hardware roadmap that affords the most/best options. 6. Keynote owns Powerpoint. Period. (probably the only biased point in my rebuttal) 7. "There???s no full Microsoft Exchange e-mail client available" - Entourage 2008? Syncs with global contacts, delegates, public folders and calendar... What exactly do you mean by "full"? 8. "Line of business applications and custom apps designed for Windows aren???t accessible" - Did you know that you can run Windows on a Mac? And the added VMware costs are negligible when considering the larger ROI picture. It might help if, as an "Executive Editor", you researched your facts with enterprise businesses who do business with Mac as a majority of the user base. Your article suffers form acute status quo. 9.

bartman62
bartman62

Ready or not, the Macs are coming, and soon new viruses will be too just for Macs.

rick_young_sector7
rick_young_sector7

another angle to look at is BOOT CAMP (and other similar technologies) that allow for hosting multiple OSes on the MAC (including WINDOWS, VISTA and LINUX) ... as pointed out in recent APPLE ads and 3rd party testing, the MAC actually runs VISTA faster than the PC ... one advantage of running a memory/resource hog like WINDOWS or VISTA under a much more elegant and less hardware-intensive OS like OSX (BSD/mach UNIX kernel under the hood) is that those "nasty" little vices can be managed/curbed ... justa tho't ... -rick- p.s. -- i wish that APPLE be coaxed to license and release AQUA (the GUI) or AQUA-LITE on a LINUX kernel into the marketplace (e.g., licensing straight to REDHAT and NOVELL/SuSE for bundling)... that would crucify VISTA in the corporate marketplace and allow APPLE to garner revenue from every LINUX workstation sold without having to don a GREY FLANNEL SUIT ... i work for IBM and know that strategically IBM very much wants to move its entire base of workstations AWAY from WINTEL to LINTEL as soon as it is practically workable/feasible to do so (requires much stronger software/peripherals support than at present) ...

ajudge
ajudge

While I believe that most of the article is illustrative of the movement, I think that there are some definitive advantages to running Fusion or Parallels in the enterprise. Having host-based windows virtualization adds the benefits of snapshot, file encapsulation, hardware independence, mobility on a USB drive and the ability to migrate to VDI at a later date. I agree that MacOS and Windows doubles the number of computers, but not necessarily the amount of work. If the MacOS is properly managed through directory services (AD, Open Directory or some meta-directory) and traditional management tools, then MacOS endpoints are quite stable and easy to manage. In conjunction with ARD, they would be more like a fat-client on steroids with minimal overhead. Is the cost worth the it? That's another discussion... Best regards, Andrew Judge MCSE: Security, RHCE, ACHDS, ACTC, CSSA, CCA, NCIE, A+, Security+, 3Com VoIP, DCIE, VCP, VCI CEO, Grove Networks Inc. Microsoft Gold Certified Partner Certified Apple Consultant Network Member 3Com Voice Authorized Partner Citrix Silver Solution Advisor VMware Enterprise Partner DataCore Authorized Business Partner Phone: 305.448.6126 Fax: 305.437.7685 http://www.grovenetworks.com

rrbrown
rrbrown

I don't agree that Mac (i.e. Safari) won't work properly on websites optimized for IE. I wrote an ASP.NET website with the requirement it work with IE, Firefox, and Safari. It took a small settings change in the ASP.NET web browser spec files to get Safari rendering properly. Both the Mac and Windows versions of Safari now work on our site.

wewright
wewright

It's a simple check box in the security system preference on Leopard... so i don't know what all the fuss is about

wescravn
wescravn

The person who wrote the article obviously doesn't know about Entourage, to say there's no full exchange mac client available, there has been for generations. Well I guess some people don't research there facts before they write them :(

Craig_B
Craig_B

The reality is that it's a Windows world; Mac's, Linux, etc. may be in the enterprise but it's still a Windows world. I'm not saying this is good or bad just a fact. The majority of business are running Windows with a handful of other systems in place. Mac right now is like the 2nd string Quarterback. Looks great, might be much better than the 1st string QB who just through an interception. Then you make the switch and start noticing problems with the 2nd string QB and realize that he's not really any better just different.

drew
drew

Ask a vague question, get a billion opinions - all valid BTW - because the point of reference of the question is imprecise. May I ask - does having an MS Exchange client imply 'Enterprise'?... what is the nature of MS Exchange that means that if a business does not have MS Exchange that it cannot be classed an 'Enterprise'... is there some rule book I've missed? Or is it a specific enterprise you are referring to - "Are Macs ready for Business's with a commitment to MS windows applications and services for their corporate activities and a large installed PC base? " Cu'mon ask a question that makes sense.

enfield_john
enfield_john

Macs are not wide-spread in homes and businesses for good reason. They are too expensive for most people. They are hard to work on. It's hard to find software and hardware for them. Most computer stores don't carry them on the salesfloor. I used to work at a retailer that had them online only. When customers would ask about our macs and we'd say that, they would shrug their shoulders and either leave or start lookin g at the pcs. The few stores that do carry them charge too much for them. A lot of our customers would come in looking for the lowest priced laptop. When you pulled up our list of laptops by price with cheapest first, macs laptops were at the bottom of the list. Their stupid mice don't have a right mouse button so you have fewer options on controlling programs via mouse. Your choices in hardware are few because Apple is the real monopoly, not Microsoft, in that you have to buy Apple's hardware to run Apple's OS. Whereas you can get Windows in computers from hundreds of pc-based companies. If you hate Microsoft enough to mess with another OS, you'd be better of deploying Linux in a business. At least that way you don't sacrifice cost effectiveness and hardware choice. In a lot of cases, you can simply wipe the hard drives and install linux or even dual-boot Linux and Windows if you want to try Linux out on a trial basis and still have Windows to fall back on if Linux won't do all you need it to. Plus Linux OS's are way cheaper than Apple's.

dagostinr
dagostinr

doesn't work. The authenticator begins after the user logs in. The computer itself cannot authenticate to the network. So if you have a variety of wireless users (think student laptop cart) they either have to have a generic local account to get them into the computer and then authenticate to the wireless network or they all need local accounts. This may be different if you have a Mac server on your network doing the authentication, but if its IAS it doesn't work.

Guitockey
Guitockey

Jason, Thanks for a well-written article and opinion. Many of the comments here are "nit-picky", biased to one side or the other, or flat out incorrect. I think the answer to your question is solely dependent on the enterprise. Certainly, most things that can be done on Windows can be done on Mac, albeit in somewhat different ways. Software development is possible and encouraged by Apple for the Mac, so necessary programs can be written by a competent software development person or group in an IT department. A company cutting over from Win to Mac requires some policy, practice, and personal adjustment, which I think are biggest obstacles to change. Higher hardware costs can potentially be offset by lower support costs in the long term. A company just starting up may find Macs better from the ground up, but an established company may not be willing or able to cut over. Having been through two corporate system cutovers myself (NeXTStep to Win, and Novell/Groupwise to Win) I can say from my experience that the biggest problems are not technology related, but user related, as I'm sure most every IT person who reads this can relate to (relatively speaking). I think this is where your point about trendy and cool is appropriate because it takes the users into account, especially the changing attitudes toward Mac. Also, the functionality of Macs in the enterprise depends on how the company uses its computers. We get a lot of folks who just use email and web, or use COTS software modified for our use. I know that's anecdotal, but it makes the point. Bottom line, I think Macs can do very well in small, medium, or large companies on the technical level, but cutting from Win to Mac or integrating the two requires some profound attitude changes and practice adjustments. That may be the biggest cost of all.

Spiritusindomit
Spiritusindomit

They don't have: *Reliable IDEs *An accessible api *3rd party driver support *Useful SDKs *Timeliness in delivery *Service *ROI *Scalable OS architecture *Corporate grade hardware *Droves of developers and admin staff for hiring *Reasonable expectations

jack.conroy
jack.conroy

There is a built-in screen lock functionality for when users step away, and can even be setup for networks using Apples Work Group Manager. This can be setup to have all Macs lock the screen and enable the screen saver at a specific amount of inactivity on the machine. There is also a corporate version of support offered by apple to "Enterprise" customers (our company being one of them) This gives you direct access to Apple and the support has been amazing (turn around time is usually within hours by someone who really knows what they are doing... Opposed to calling overseas to Microsoft! ).

JumB0B0B
JumB0B0B

Here's where the rubber meets the road: Group Policies. In Windows I can send out computers and customize and control what goes on with those computers through Group Policies. I have 1400 different settings I could change and I could incrementally change policies based on where that user or computer is in the Active Directory. I could apply one policy to a group of users and add policies to subgroups of that group, as well, so the policies are inherited. Apple has Preferences. There are about 150 different settings and you could only set one set of preferences per group. These are the most shallow of settings, too. And if you want to do anything complicated you need to learn Unix and write complicated scripts. The Apple Enterprise Environment is like bringing your child in to run your company. He can sit in the seat but can't make any real decisions. Any IT manager who brings them into his environment is asking for headaches. We played with Apple here for about 2 years before we realized we didn't have the tools in the Apple world that we have in Windows. Simple management takes on a whole new meaning.

gormark
gormark

instead of making a joke of yourself, Jason? You're wrong on too many points to discuss, and web pages that ONLY support ActiveX are amateurish to begin with, so who cares about them? Besides, there is so much you can do on Macs that Windows can't support that we'd need a Mac user to write an accurate article instead.

sling
sling

I think many of the comments in response to the article have been flawed. So I will try to put in my two cents on the matter. The switch to Intel has given the Mac a mainstream flair just like how the Intel Inside labels have given PC's mainstream flairs. It's true that Macs can run Windows now but the average user (aka, the folks we support) do not buy Macs to run Windows on them. Performance is absolutely more solid than a PC system. The hardware is customized and streamlined for the Mac OS. This is one big reason why a Mac will run Windows with more stability than a PC system with similar specs. Apple has some growing pains with their 1st gen releases of hardware but most of these are manafacturing defects (battery, heating, casing issues, just like every other system manafacturer on the market) as the performance is always solid. The tepid response to Windows is indeed driving folks to consider or choose a Mac for two major reasons. 1) Vista has people rethinking Microsoft after it became apparent that the OS was just not a what Microsoft made it out to be. 2) People are really beginning to see how XP is old technology. Users are indeed increasing for the Macs. It's not at a wildfire pace but Mac users are steadily doubling every year. It's inevitable that support will be needed for Macs which IT departments sadly are ignoring. "Work" apps are indeed mostly for Windows and users indeed do NOT usually know the difference. Honestly, they don't want to know, the simpler, the better. It's our job to find solutions to support the user REGARDLESS of the platform they are running on. Worst comes to worst, they can Citrix in to the system but even at the most basic Citrix support for Macs I see are lacking. Garage Band and Final Cut Pro are indeed better than their Windows equivalents such as Avid. Apple is trendy and cool with their iPhones and iPods. Trendy and cool is obviously not a IT professionals concern. The users are the subject of our attention. Now, if your users want to be able to use their devices at work, are you ready to support that? If your CEO comes in one day with a Mac because he or she wishes to bring that home experience to work, are you ready to support that? Podcasts can be extremely usefull collaboration formats. How can you dismiss the best tool for the job (often the easier tool for the average user) to create podcasts and videos when even Microsoft is jumping on the bandwagon for Web 2.0 and collaboration via podcasts, wikis, blogs, etc.? Users who use web tools are indeed intimidated by the more complicated and feature rich apps for Windows (how many users actually use the Office Suie to it's fullest or even a good fraction of the features? I've had to help out another colleague with using Excel and this is a person who was way ahead of me in system technologies). The ever populare Web 2.0 and Cloud based computing are based on the webapp concept. You can't so easily dismiss the fact that users only want features that they need and do not want to bother with anything more than that. What does it say about a user that does not bother with learning to use the OS at their jobs? It says something that reoccurs with the majority of users, they don't want to be bothered. What are you going to tell your execs when one day, goodness forbid, they come in with Macs and asks for support? "Sorry Mr. Smith, we don't support that, you'll have to use the Windows workstation." I doubt that they will be very happy when hanging up the phone or walking out of your office. IT professionals do benefit from having a Mac and learning it. It prepares for what is to come, an increased user base for Macs. I find it odd how the technology professionals are supposed to be preparing for the future yet they only one to support systems and vendors that they know and disregard what should be planned for our users. We're not talking about the current generation , it's the future work force that will joing your environments in droves. The fresh out of college workforce. How are you planning for them if you are dismissing Macs so readily?

Hey_Joe
Hey_Joe

As an IT engineer in a financial multinational (7500 w/s, 4500 Wintel servers, 2 Macs), this article is seriously flawed. The #1 reason was "mainstream flair"? Please tell me you snuck this past your editor without his/her review. The arguments for Macs are stupid, ethereal and trendy. There aren't many "enterprises" that rely on Garage Band and Final Cut for the bottom line; those are niche products. The groups called out as Mac beneficiaries are pocket departments in any mid-sized "enterprise. This article should have been printed in People or US magazine directly across from "Who's hotter, Nicole or Paris?" Macs aren't cutting in the enterprise because there isn't enterprise level support for them. Witness how many responses there are just to clarify a lousy screensaver timeout. And the last time I looked, Apple doesn't provide tools like WSUS, Windows Deployment (aka BBD), SMS/SCCM/SCOM and other enterprise tools for managing workstations. Oh, has anyone compared the price of a Mac to a comparable Dell system? I know that saving the enterprise $$ is a key goal in my annual review, what about yours? And how many s/w titles are available for Windows that aren't available for Mac? Bottom line is we are employed to serve the needs of our users as mscarton stated. But we have a fiduciary responsibility to the company/shareholders to reduce costs. Nothing in this article point to monetary efficiency; If anything, another platform (h/w, OS and apps) introduces SIGNIFICANT additional support costs. That folks is the bottom line.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

You say: "many of our business users are simply more productive on a Mac" The Say: "what we need to do to help our users exploit them" And Finally Say: "Making Macs ready for the enterprise" Which is it then? Ready? (Then use them!) Help? (why? they are more productive as you say) OR Change? (again why? you say they are more productive)

Wayne T
Wayne T

might be "Making Currently ignorant, biased Corp/Govt IT Support groups ready for the inevitable growth in Mac usage within their enterprises."

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

Next time check what the term 'native' means when running a 2003 AD structure & server setup. Nothing but your own fault on that one. Hope your Boss knows....

Mac_IT_Guy
Mac_IT_Guy

I recognize your name as the guy who worked at my company before I took over your job. I agree with the points about the mac enterprise options - right on!

peterfv
peterfv

Eric, how many Macs do your tech support people have to manage - and how many tech support people do you have?

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

Yes.... But now I need to buy a copy of windows to do so. What am I saving here by going Mac then?

Murphy's_Brother
Murphy's_Brother

It is not cost effective on software licensing or support. You end up with Mac, Parallels, and Windows problems all on the same machine. Don't get me wrong. Our graphics department is almost entirely Mac, for good reasons. But our estimating and management system must run on Windows and doesn't play nice with Parallels. Our Prez and sales force insisted on Imacs against my advice and now are constantly complaining that "it doesn't act like my Mac at home" or "my old computer didn't do that." No kidding. You have three operating systems instead of one. Deal with it.

mlleeder
mlleeder

Who didn't bother to read any of Jason's replies to earlier posts just like yours....

caelwyn001
caelwyn001

Indeed I have read a lot of the commentary on this subject. It would appear that the 'cool' factor still rears its ugly head. Whilst it may be fine for smaller businesses, computing is not for 'cool' it's for business and functionality. I am old enough to recall when Apple was heading belly up in the 1990'ies. I am also old enough to recall punching by hand tapes to load programs on the hardware. I also dislike MS with a passion but I will not strike off my nose to spite my face. I have operated in an environment with Linux and MS running ....it works!. Before you try getting 'cool' try getting Linux and do your business a favour. Postscript - does anybody really think that hackers will leave Mac alone if it becomes a sigificant player in that marketplace?. regards an older pragmatic IM specialist.

Guitockey
Guitockey

I think the point of the article was forward-looking: "Is Mac (or can Mac be) ready for enterprise?", not "did Mac used to be good for the business customer?" The fact that your store did not carry them in inventory is irrelevant to whether they are "good" or "bad". That's just a business practice. Markets work: if more and more consumers wanted more Macs, that store would probably sell them on the floor. Case in point: Best Buy and Circuit City have recently increased their Mac support. Cheapest does not always mean best value. Many articles have been written and cost studies done about the ROI on Macs vs. PCs, and have consistently shown Macs to be a better value than PCs over the long-term, although not necessarily least expensive at the outset. Economically speaking, neither Mac nor Microsoft are monopolies, evidenced by that fact that we're debating Mac, Microsoft, and Linux. Plurality, majority of market share, or the use of proprietary equipment do not define a monopoly. Mac mice do have a "right-click", although it's not a button. Also, many third-party hardware vendors for Mac (yes, they exist) supply multi-button mice. In fact, I use Microsoft brand USB mouse on my Mac.

david
david

*Reliable IDEs Same as unix has. *An accessible api Not really sure. I don't develop Mac specific software, but people I know that do seem to think it is easy. MFC and the like is too bulky for lean code, but I don't know if Macs API is any better. *3rd party driver support Same as unix has *Useful SDKs Same as unix. If you are writing applications via a Wizard, then you can't really say you're a software developer. *Timeliness in delivery I am not aware of any service policy with Windows, other than some less than useful phone support via India. Apple has Apple Care, which is a no questions asked repair policy (about $300/licence/3 yr). *Service With AppleCare, if anything is wrong, they pick up same day and return within 7. *ROI Too hard to really measure. Better productivity on Macs, but they are more expensive. *Scalable OS architecture Clearly you don't know what you're talking about here. No one in high performance computing (HPC) would ever use windows. I am not saying they all use Macs, but some do because of its unix core. Unix varieties dominate. *Corporate grade hardware You mean crap. If you mean crap, just say crap, no need to fancy it up. The truth of the matter is, PCs are trash, but they are fine for email, powerpoint, and business applications. They are cheap, which is why they are good for some business applications, unless you need real computing power. Imagine Google deployed on Windows. Pretty absurd. But they could Google could easily redeploy on Mac Servers, though it would cost a fortune. *Droves of developers and admin staff for hiring This is perhaps the only point of yours I really agree with. It is also true, however, that there are droves of really stupid people, but that doesn't mean I would hire them or use products they can manage. *Reasonable expectations This doesn't make any sense.

seggsyuk
seggsyuk

I cannot comment on the quality of Mac support and respect your, I am sure deserved, high opinion of the support received, but I do think it a bit much to put down MS support because it comes from "overseas". I have had to use that MS support from overseas and have found the support engineers to be extremely knowledgeable and have never put the phone down until I was satisfied the issue was fixed. I don't think that argument can really be used in this most interesting discussion.

nappy_d
nappy_d

You need to look into www.centrify.com This product ties in to AD quite nicely for Macintosh Management. Sure I may be touting this product but we have big issues with Leopard and AD(rite up to 10.5.2). I have tested this product and we are in the midst of implementing it.

drbayer
drbayer

Web apps that rely on features (like ActiveX) in IE6 are out there and actively used as LoB apps. Before the advent of IE7, many developers were encouraged by their superiors to make it work with IE and forget about the rest. Now many of those apps are broken even in IE7, but until they are fixed those users will still be tied to WinXP. As a non-denominational computer user, I haven't found anything that I could do on a Mac that I couldn't do in Windows or Linux. Some things are easier on Macs, but some are easier on other platforms. I like my Mac and think it's quite fun to work on, but have seen no reason to become fanatical about it.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

I asked myself. I have a MacBook Pro as my primary laptop. :-) I use Macs every day and so do a lot of my colleagues here at CNET Networks. We're continually talking about this topic. We've been talking about it for years.

emphron
emphron

I run a small to medium statistics and data management cosultnacy inn the Biotech sector. Attracting bright, technically competent young graduates is an absolute requirement for me. And I find that they *all* want to use macs not windows. Those who haven't used macs before have a mean time to conversion ("I'm never using a PC again") of about 30 minutes. For me, having the company work on macs is simpy good business. It keeps my elite and difficult to replace young staff happy.

jma
jma

I would argue that users should have a free choice when it comes to choosing their tools. They work with them 8-hours a day!! If they make the choice themselves, they will make it work, and they will be more enthusiastic about it than when an administrator limits their choice to two types of Dell computers with XP installed. If a carpenter was forced to work with Black&Decker tools when he preferred Makita, these tools would be blamed for every slip in the schedule... You are not correct when re-stating that most "work software" is done on Windows. I could argue that the best "work software" is done on the mac, because it depends on what you do for a living. Let us make a list of "work software" and see if we can find a windows and a mac version of those.

jack.conroy
jack.conroy

Thanks for your reply. If you have had to deal with local support versus overseas support you will definitely notice a difference between the two, it's not even close. This is not a bash, just an obvious truth...

sling
sling

It's a question of supporting our users. Nobody has been worried about Google in the enterprise yet with just less than a year they have gained the interest for their enterprise solutions. Macs, most IT folks have never even bothered testing a Mac but they are also first to knock the Mac for poor support or security in the enterprise. IT has also never bothered themselves with worrying about iTunes installation on company systems (which, let's be honest with ourselves, iTunes is probably one of the only pieces of "unnecessary" software that our users absolutely love since it is in fact so much a part of the computer that they know and use outside of the office). Now with iPhone 3G making the very obvious push into the enterprise, we are forced to reconsider. We've already had users asking for iPhone support here at my firm (mid size, approximately 1,000 users) after the new iPhone 3G announcement. Let's face the facts, there is no longer a system where IT understands the needs and dictates what to implement. The workforce is now much more self-service as increasingly more people understands technology. They request for technology that they are familiar with while our current stagnant IT mentality is to stick with only what WE understand. This is a battle against the current.

julianag
julianag

Many comments were posted about the various support issues and what a long way Mac has come from a niche market to the mainstream. The problem is: I don't buy it. I don't care for Macs in the business sense. 1.They are expensive, 2. there is only one hardware supplier and there does not seem to be the same amount of dedication to serving the business from Apple as from other businesses. 3. Familiarity from both IT and user perspective Let's not forget the other environments in the large enterprise, such as mainframes that were not replaced by PCs and I doubt they will be able to be replaced by Macs. Mac has a long way to go if it has a way to go at all. There will always be businesses and departments that will be served by Macs excellently, but so far, Macs are not ready for every enterprise out there and to enforce it primarily because some applications work better is not a good enough business reason to justify to management why a cheap PC cannot be used for the receptionist who only needs an email client to pas messages to others instead of a cheaper PC (disregarding which OS). I reckon, the more traditional businesses will always lag behind the 'cooler' technology due to various reasons. This should not be the motivation for trying to stuff it down everyone's throat and cry foul at the gag reflex.

sling
sling

I guess you haven't either worked at enough firms or you are not at all in touch with your peers. IT is a non-revenue generating department. It is support. It is a EASILY replaceable department with MANY replacement candidates readily available. The only reason a IT staff stays the same for long periods of time throughout a firms lifespan is mostly due to their managers and directors. The managers and directors also answer DIRECTLY to the executives of the firm and in turn the executives of the firm WILL give priority over the revenue generators and NOT the support departments. Sorry to burst your ego, the importance of your job is only fully realized by you and your department, for the firm as a whole, you're just another expense.

sling
sling

You understand what is to come sooner than most because as you have stated, you firm has hired these out of college employees, the next generation of revenue makers. Let's think about this, Blackberry is the standard for mobile e-mail and contacts but when the next iPhone ships at that $199 price point with advertised Exchange support, guess what a consumer (aka, OUR USERS) is going to heavily consider, obviously the iPhone. With the iPhone comes iTunes and with iTunes and increase of Mac users, this domino effect will hit IT and it's not a question of when, it will become a question of how hard because it's relatively safe to say, judging from the majority of the pro-Windows and tough-luck-Mac-users comments, IT as a whole is really doing all that much to prepare for the future.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

I am not changing my policy based on each young candiaite I decide to hire. Your vision is all wrong, the company generates income, the IT department IS part off the company. The IT department by default has a hand in any income generation that goes on.

jma
jma

When choosing an IT strategy it is easy to make it extremely restrictive, as long as there is a current "administration hell" where expenses can be cut by creating a rigorous system for adding new hardware and software. To my knowledge many strategies have evolved from that. When ever a change in strategy is suggested an IT Department can always make a reference to the old days when everything was chaotic, and by repeating "the mantra" that introducing a new hardware platform or new software platform will create chaos as seen in the olden days, it is easy for executives to accept such a strategy. But there is a cost of such a strategy. When you weigh a heterogeneous system, security, ease of management over user's opinions and productivity, you never consider the cost of maintaining a strict policy contra the possible added productivity amongst users and the users acceptance of the system as theirs, and not the IT departments. After all, the IT department is there to support the users and their systems, not the other way around. When young bright candidates come to a company and they are met with a too restrictive IT policy, you write of possible candidates, and thereby possible income. An IT department does not normally generate income, so when choosing between between income + added expenses and no income, I think most executives were willing to add the expenses.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

I'm sure every year there are 'elite and young staff' ready for hire. What makes them so difficult to replace? Sounds like you are letting your young staff dictate your system policy and hardware.

jma
jma

I'm a developer so I need an office suite and a compiler, a nice application for doing UML diagrams, E-Mail and Internet Browser. So this is what I use on mac and windows Mac: Windows: Xcode Visual Studio Office 2004 Office 2003 Mail/Entourage Outlook OmniGraffle Visio I am still interested in a comment on the right to pick own tools point...

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