Snow Leopard fails to convince CIOs to adopt more Macs

With Exchange support, Snow Leopard was supposed to attract more business users to Mac. A new survey from TechRepublic's CIO Jury dashes that theory.

The most talked about new feature in Mac OS X Snow Leopard, which debuted on August 28, is its native integration with Microsoft Exchange. The assumption was that this one feature could have the same kind of impact in opening the Mac market to corporate users as Exchange integration had on bringing the iPhone to business professionals. A new survey of TechRepublic's CIO Jury completely debunks that assumption.

On September 1, TechRepublic polled its 90-member panel of U.S. IT executives and asked, "Does the release of Snow Leopard make your IT department more likely to adopt more Mac OS X machines?" The jury, made up of the first 12 respondents, unanimously voted "no" in a 12-0 decision.

TechRepublic's CIO Jury is based on the original CIO Jury concept developed by Silicon.com, where you can find lively opinions from IT leaders based in the UK.

The CIO Jury for this verdict was:

  1. Laurie Dale, Director of IT for Ability Beyond Disabilty
  2. Randy Backus, Director of IT for Wallingford Public Schools
  3. Michael Woodford, Executive Director of IT for USANA Health Sciences
  4. Chuck Codling, Director of Infrastructure for Rocky Brands
  5. Michael Hanken, VP of IT for Multiquip
  6. Bob Hickcox, Director of IT for Girl Scouts of MN and WI
  7. Chuck Elliott, Director of IT for Emory University School of Medicine
  8. Lisa Moorehead, Director of IT for MA Dept of Public Utilities
  9. Chris Brown, VP of Technology for Big Splash Web Design
  10. Kevin Leypoldt, IS Director for Structural Integrity Associates
  11. Brian Stanek, VP of IT for NAMICO
  12. Jerry Justice, IT Director for SS&G Financial Services

Beyond just the 12 jury members, TechRepublic got votes and comments from over 50% of the 90-member jury pool and the overwhelming response was that Snow Leopard would have no impact on their IT infrastructure. Nearly every respondent wrote that Macs simply don't make sense in their corporate network. A few of the IT chiefs even responded that they personally admire and respect Mac OS X (some even use it at home), but that there were too many obstacles to using it at work.

For example, Lisa Moorehead, Director of IT for the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities, responded, "I work in government. We've invested heavily in PCs and we don't do a lot with graphic design nor are we an educational institution. Because of that, supporting Macs for us is more of a hassle. However, personally, I love my Mac and am very excited about this new release."

David Van Geest, Director of IT for The Orsini Group, said, "While I have always liked the Mac OS, the expense and the necessity to run Windows-based software precludes it from consideration."

Let's take a look at some more of the reasons that IT executives reported for why they do not plan to adopt more Macs.

Why IT leaders still reject Macs

  • "Being a multi-discipline engineering firm, we have many applications that are Windows specific, therefore we are a Windows shop. While we do have a few Macs, adopting more Macs would require virtualization software to run Windows (i.e. Parallels) or a dual boot configuration. Introducing and supporting a second OS on every computer is not something we are looking to take on." (Kevin Leypoldt, IS Director for Structural Integrity Associates)
  • "The Macintosh operating system is not yet a good fit for environments where compliance with federal regulations such as HIPAA and FERPA are important." (Chuck Elliott, Director of IT for Emory University School of Medicine)
  • "Exchange support in Snow Leopard will not make it more likely we will adopt more Mac computers. Costs for Macs are still significantly higher and majority of our users and applications still require Windows." (Donna Trivison, Director of IT for Ursuline College)
  • "We will not be considering deploying Macs. As with many of the questions I've fielded, it's a matter of our key software vendors not supporting anything other than Windows for our core applications." (John Gracyalny, Director of IT for SafeAmerica Credit Union)
  • "A lot of the applications we use here at DEKA for engineering are not supported by Mac. At this time there is no business advantage to introduce Mac's into our environment." (Chris Zalegowski, Director of IT for DEKA Research & Development)
  • "We're very much a Microsoft-oriented shop. Microsoft makes pricing very, very attractive for higher education." (Scott Lowe, CIO of Westminster College)
  • "As as general rule, 'no,' due to the nature of how we run applications and their dependency on ActiveX control and the Internet Explorer experience." (Delano Gordon, CIO of Roofing Supply Group)
  • "Snow Leopard supporting Exchange integration is fine but I don't think it's worth introducing a new platform into the mix. Apple supporting Exchange is like Microsoft supporting Open Source. Both were late doing it and are only doing it because they cannot compete otherwise." (Matthew Metcalfe, Director of IS for Northwest Exterminating)
  • "No, our main application does not run in Mac OS." (Brent Nair, CIO of Wunderlich Securities)
  • "There are still overall cost and support challenges that would prevent us from adopting Macs in a big way." (Rick Treese, CTO of TheMarkets.com)
  • "It would still take too much time and investment to retrain users and support staff." (Chris Brown, VP of Technology for Big Splash Web Design)

A few leave the door open

  • "Snow Leopard in itself is not a driving factor, however, we are taking a more accepting approach to Macs in general. As new and younger personnel enter our organization, and as an increasing number of applications are running in the browser, the OS is is becoming less relevant. Thus, we are being more open to the requests of our user community as long as there are no significant barriers and/or potential degradations to our overall infrastructure in doing so." (Tom Galbraith, Director of IT for US District Court So District of IL)
  • "From an IT perspective it makes little difference for us. Unless you're a technology department that supports an advertising agency, graphics house, or anything heavy into creative media, I would think that Snow Leopard means little more than a curiosity. The ability to allow for Intel-based Macs, a few years back, provided more interesting food for thought than this latest release of OS X. For mainstream business and manufacturing I doubt that it would do much. However, I am open to interesting solutions." (Martin Szalay, Director of IT for FWE)

Would you like to be part of TechRepublic's CIO Jury and have your say in the hottest issues for IT departments? If you are a CIO, CTO, IT director or equivalent at a large or small company in the private or public sector and you want to be part of TechRepublic's CIO Jury pool, drop us a line at ciojury@techrepublic.com.


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 book, Follow the Geeks.

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