Posted by: peterhact | March 16, 2010

Apple and the Enterprise – Are you ready?

Many years ago, I started my journey in the ICT industry in Canberra. 18 Years, to be exact. I sold many different brands, saw many different changes, and was introduced to a type of computer that I immediately was in awe of. It was an Apple. Back in the early days, of my involvement with Apple, the Technology was cutting edge. Who else used Phone Net to link a network together? Who had their own language that talked to other networks, and was a part of most of the windows installations, even if the users didn’t know? Appletalk was on every PC running windows, most of the time not even installed to be used on their networks, but it was a protocol, and it was there.

I wasn’t an Apple user. I was a PC user, and I joined the chorus of Apple bashers, it didn’t run works, it didn’t have antivirus software, it had this cobbled together works lookalike called Claris works, and Filemaker. Then, it was system version 7.5, windows had got it right only by version 3.0 – why did the mac have a version 7.5? It was all too easy to think that the PC was far superior. And then I was there to witness the rebirth of Apple, away from the graphic designers and print houses, its mainstay in the market, Apple released a revolutionary computer that was different – there had been all in one computers before, the performas, the directors edition macs, but this one was blue, all in one, and it was really interesting, looked fun and I fell in love with the iMac from the first day I saw it. Those were the days. people wanted the iMac, they didn’t want black or beige, and it was no surprise to see them all through offices all over the place, some businesses, some govt departments, and some in homes.

Apple was reborn, and it came into the market with a vengeance, scaring the big players and making some of them decide to try and fill their systems with as much “free stuff” as possible. Bloatware is never the answer, it takes far too long to delete it all… Coupled with the iMac, Apple released sexy new screens, and computers that were designed to be put on desks, not under them. The G3 was blue, just like the iMac. it had some features that PC towers didn’t have – a lever on the side that folded down the case side and made access a snap.  wow. Innovation at its best.

Then the iMac started to accelerate. there were clear cases of different colours, there was the directors edition – the clear grey case, and then along came dalmatian blue… and it accelerated. Keynotes were popular, we all stayed up late to see what jobs was releasing this time. we were stunned by the ibook – how cool were the blue and the orange cases, designed for kids with rubberised edges, sturdy cases and really cool displays. and then it got even more amazing – along came the ipod, the iphone, and now, the ipad. the powerbooks were replaced by the macbooks, and then, when i thought I had seen it all, out came the macbook air – thin, light and stylish… what executive didn’t want that in the airport lounge?

And now we are here. For the enterprise to utilise apple now, they would have to change the servers, the file systems, the usb devices, the ethernet cables, the printers, the internet connections…. wait. none of these things need changing. USB came to light on the iMac. Macs read and write to windows servers, file systems are recognised and talk happily to apple, most printer brands have a printer driver available for mac – on their websites, macs have ethernet, and can talk to ISPs.

There is nothing that would need an immediate change. run a citrix environment? apple runs the client happily – in fact, faster than pcs. use office 2007? well, the latest office 2008 for mac runs and supports the new file extensions. running out of excuses, enterprise? absolutely. what holds the enterprise back is the FUD factor – FUD stands for Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt, the Three Horsemen of the IT Industry, who, if they can’t beat you with technology, resort to name calling. Put fear in the hearts of the sysadmins. make the CIO doubt that the TCO or ROI is worth it, and make uncertainty as to whether Apple will be around tomorrow the final blow.  we have seen these horsemen in action with the recent illness that Steve Jobs had. Tell the world that he was dead, and stocks plummeted. People believed that without Jobs at the helm, Apple would be lost. He is a dynamo, but as for the other visionaries in Apple, they would get along fine – sorry steve, but Apple isn’t one man and a vision, it is many people with passion.

So what is holding the Enterprise back from using Apple in their environment? ask yourself this:

If you had a computer system, which had an operating system based on unix, which had maybe one two hundredth of the viruses that exist in the world’s computers in the wild, that ran your office apps, ran your networking apps, talked to your servers and a heap of peripheral devices, synced with phones, pdas and ipods, and was robust, extremely cheap to upgrade from one version of the operating system to the next, had professional software for video editing, photo editing, music and internet already on it, had a camera built in for video conferencing on a high quality network, etc, etc…. would you have it in your network?

the answer, without knowing the brand, is yes. you would.

what if you learned that this was an apple? would that change your perception? These days, not as much as the past.

Apple isn’t ready for the enterprise. Apple has been ready for years. Now, the Enterprise is ready for Apple.


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