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Igniting the Mac-at-Work Revolution

By Dale Fuller MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Jul 15, 2011 5:00 AM PT

In so many words, Steve Jobs recently discussed the tremendous opportunity ahead for Mac in the enterprise. With the introduction of iCloud, Apple's new service for seamlessly integrating content across devices, the company appears to be headed down the right path.

Igniting the Mac-at-Work Revolution

Consider the fact that organizations offering their workers a choice of platform -- PC or Mac -- stand to gain a significant competitive advantage. After all, Macs are hugely popular among consumers, especially younger ones who are now entering the workforce. Companies that do not respect the preferences of this new generation could find themselves missing out on key talent.

Mac is also commonly in demand among executives who prefer Apple's sleek style and easy-to-use interface, even viewing Mac as a status symbol similar to driving a BMW or flashing a Rolex.

So what does Apple actually have to gain by making Mac an enterprise device? Quite a bit, it appears, when one looks at the numbers. It's estimated that about 90 million computers are purchased each year for the enterprise. Mac is in high demand, so let's say, for argument's sake, that 33 percent of enterprises ultimately elect to enable Mac in their business. That would equate to 30 million Macs entering the workforce at about US$1,500 each, representing a new $45 billion market opportunity for Apple. That's a number that gets shareholders excited and leaves little to scoff at.

What's Holding IT Back

So what's next? As more workers demand a Mac for both personal and business use, the onus is squarely on IT departments to make it happen. In fact, fully 66 percent of IT administrators at large organizations with Macs and PCs said they expected to see an increase in the number of Macs, according to a 2010 survey by the Enterprise Desktop Alliance.

It is clear that the consumerization of IT is upon us, and Apple is the driving force behind this transformation. So why doesn't IT jump at the opportunity to make employees happy by granting their Mac wishes? Here are the most common excuses:

  • Skills & Knowledge: The skills and knowledge needed to support Macs simply don't exist in today's IT organizations. Mac is viewed as too complex and too troublesome, especially given today's corporate Windows ecosystem.
  • App Support: Many enterprise applications don't work on Mac. Even when utilizing Boot Camp or a client hypervisor like Parallels or Fusion, it's just not the same seamless user experience. In addition, Windows applications -- from Word to Excel to PowerPoint -- are still highly critical in today's business world.
  • Security: The enterprise doesn't really know how to secure Mac. The security tools IT trusts are typically Windows-based, and securing Mac to standard security guidelines appears daunting from a risk/reward standpoint.

Yes, these issues do pose a serious barrier to entry, and iCloud isn't going to solve them out of the box. But I have news for enterprise IT folks faced with a revolt from their end-user community: It is possible to take a bite from the Apple.

Consumerization of IT

Thanks to desktop virtualization, Mac in the enterprise is now a hassle-free reality. How so? By providing a simple solution that makes IT support for Mac a snap. It works by placing the virtualized Windows OS on a Mac in a secure bubble that provides users with all of the business apps, data and productivity tools they need to get their work done. At the same time, IT can centrally and seamlessly manage, secure and update the corporate Windows image on multiple user machines, including Macs.

Here's what desktop virtualization enables IT to do:

  1. Virtualize the desktop to support the Mac OS and Windows OS and apps on the same device. When the work is done, employees can log out of virtualized desktop and return to using the Mac apps they love, from iTunes to Safari to "Angry Birds."
  2. Easily deploy the Windows container at the end point. No need for enterprise IT admins to have specialized Mac skills. They can control and apply updates to the Windows image without incurring incremental costs or needing any additional skill sets. By running Windows in a virtual bubble on Macs, the security and management is already in place, and IT can control delivery in full.
  3. Get out of the device management business. With desktop virtualization, employees can choose the hardware they want (Mac or PC) and IT can feel 100 percent confident in managing and securing those devices.

The consumerization of IT is inevitable. IT organizations have to do all they can to embrace this transformation or risk getting left behind. The reality is that desktop virtualization has created a world in which employees and IT both win. Workers get to use their devices and apps they love most, and IT can manage and secure those devices easily and effectively. That's like having your Apple and eating it too.

Dale Fuller is president and CEO of MokaFive, which provides a solution that harnesses the power of virtualization to transform the way enterprises control and manage desktops and laptops.

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