Group Logic: A Mac/PC Referee for the Enterprise
Who says Apple is invisible on the enterprise level? Not Group Logic. The company has for years made applications designed to easily mix Macs into Windows IT environments. Apple's surging popularity and the rise of software used to virtualize Windows on Mac machines has only added to Group Logic's momentum.
04/13/09 4:00 AM PT
More than a few eyebrows were raised in surprise last year when a survey of global IT administrators and C-level executives revealed that 80 percent of them had Apple Macintosh computers connected to their enterprise networks. Not among the surprised, however, was T. Reid Lewis.
Lewis is CEO and president of Group Logic, an Arlington, Va., firm that specializes in software to make PCs and Macs play nicely on enterprise networks.
Lewis cofounded Group Logic in 1988. A lot has changed since those days. "The Mac aspect of our business is more exciting than it ever has been, and it just keeps getting better every day," he told MacNewsWorld.
Mixing In Virtualization
Group Logic was originally drawn to the Mac because of its graphical user interface. At the time, many other mass market PCs ran the command-line based MSDOS. "With IT support," he noted, "it can be a great enterprise tool."
That enterprise need not be restricted to a particular "creative" industry like publishing, advertising or design, he added.
"We see people that have the most complicated requirements, particularly system administrators flocking to the Mac because it's a great piece of hardware and the Mac OS can do a lot of great things," he said. "And with virtualization , you can run Windows or Linux or anything else you want on that platform.
"No longer can it be said you have to have Windows because I have to run this Windows application," Lewis explained. "You can virtualize it on a Mac."
No More Excuses
Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research in Hampton, N.H., maintained that Apple's move to Intel processors in 2006 undermined a major objection IT managers had to plugging the boxes into their fiefdoms.
"They've had to accept that users within in their organizations who have some freedom of choice can choose the Mac," he told MacNewsWorld. "They no longer can say it can't run Windows, it can't run Windows-based software, because it can."
Another factor contributing to Mac acceptance on the enterprise is the proliferation of platform agnostic data, according to Carl Howe, director of consumer research at the Yankee Group in Boston.
"Over the last five to 10 years, more and more corporate information is being delivered on the Web, rather through dedicated applications," he told MacNewsWorld. "The platform doesn't matter as much as it used to."
'Long List of Challenges Administrators Face'
Nevertheless, moving and managing data over a mixed platform network can still be a chore, which is why Group Logic's offerings are attractive to users and system administrators.
When users send files to colleagues, for instance, senders need to worry about platform compatibility, compression, in-transit corruption, local storage of copies, receipts and transfer of structured information about a file. Group Logic's MassTransit software is designed to remove those worries.
"With MassTransit, they just drop their file on their Web browser or in a folder and everything is taken care of," CEO Lewis explained. "From the user's perspective, it's easier than dropping it in a FedEx package."
A number of nettles for system adminstrators are also addressed by the application -- tracking who's sending what to whom, are their passwords correct, are they using encryption, are file paths being audited, and how access to the system is being assigned or denied.
"There's a long list of challenges that administrators face that MassTransit takes out of the way and lets them worry about more important business," Lewis observed.
Group Logic's other product, ExtremeZ-IP, takes network management a step further by making Windows servers look like Apple servers to the Macs on the network. That enables the net to take full advantage of the Mac's rich networking features, features that would be hobbled if forced to work with a Windows server.
In addition, the application allows the Macs to take advantage of innovations introduced by Microsoft for its server platform.
"We bridge innovation from Microsoft and Apple," Lewis said.
Will the Mac continue its penetration into the corporate network? Lewis says yes. "It's going to keep growing," he predicted, "if for no other reason than no enterprise should allow itself to be dependent on a single platform.
"You're going to see a whole lot of different computing platforms," he added, "and the Mac will be one of the leaders."