Hot on the heels of the release of Mac OS X 10.4.6 comes news that a large company in Japan plans to switch its corporate desktops to the Mac platform. The move is considered a milestone; but what exactly is the state of Mac OS X in the enterprise these days? Is this really a milestone, or just a blip?
Jason Brooks, an analyst at eWeek, has some interesting thoughts on Apple’s apparent attitude to the enterprise market: despite creating several enterprise-friendly products (such as Xserve, Xsan, and WebObjects), the company’s unwillingness to reveal product roadmaps in advance is something that must be a frustration to any corporate tech buyer trying to plan a budget.
At some level, Apple certainly recognizes these limitations, and yet the firm seems unwilling to deal with the enterprise differently than it deals with iPod buyers.
Perhaps Apple is ultimately just a consumer company, he concludes.
In Scotland, a leading Apple dealer voiced his frustration with corporate buyers in a recent Scotsman article:
There is a complete distrust of the Apple platform by IT professionals. I’m fed up with people saying they can’t have Apple in their networks. It’s not difficult, it’s just that they don’t want to understand the technology or they can’t be bothered.
In the same article, Apple UK Managing Director Mark Rogers offers up this excuse:
One of the things you see in the consumer space is the ability to be flexible and to embrace new technologies very quickly, and I think that’s constantly been a challenge in the enterprise space because of the way they lock down desktops and have lots of security.
Well, you can’t blame companies for wanting to keep things secure, can you? But OS X is pretty secure, right?
I believe that much of Apple’s enterprise future will rest with the adaptation of the appliance mindset and eradicating the cultural meme: one size fits all … If you can live with some of Apple’s arrogance (don’t expect too many niceties - Apple is an engineering company, after all), you should really take a look at the security TCO of WinTel vs. Mac. If you are honest with your answers, you may find that you can get many of your enterprise endpoints more secure than ever for a lot less than you thought.
OS X also keeps users from doing things they shouldn’t. Most enterprises do not want users installing software on their machines - they want a box to run mail client and browser, and a couple of Office applications. Effective restricted rights are the default, and make Mac/MacTel ideal for non-administrative enterprise distribution.
Judging by these comments, OS X would seem to have many of the right ingredients for success in business. Excellent software, good security, an easy way to lock down desktops and prevent users messing about with things they shouldn’t. Maybe the challenge Mr Rogers was talking about is more of an opportunity.