Apple’s Mac systems, especially the MacBook Air, are no longer being used by enterprise employees for design, architectural layouts, software development … alone. Corporate workers, especially, senior executives are demanding Macs to get their work done and enjoy the glory of owning a device that classifies as a status symbol. While the trend bodes well for Macs, Windows PCS have a challenging time ahead as they are already threatened by the rising popularity of smartphones and tablets.
According to Gartner, Macs will be accepted as Windows PCs by 2015 in enterprises. As of now, the installed base for Macs in the enterprise is just 4% with 90% of the share taken up by Windows PCs. What’s important to note here is that even this small share shows that enterprise IT is opening up to the idea of Macs in the enterprise, an idea that was strongly discouraged in past years.
This change has come about because of the BYOD push. As enterprise IT is compelled to manage multiple types of devices such as iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, and more, the ground for heterogeneous enterprise IT has been laid. Macs are just another kind of device that IT needs to manage and secure. Fortunately, Apple has made the path easier in recent times.
Managing Macs in the Enterprise – Cheaper & Easier
Compared to a few years back, procuring and managing Macs in the enterprise has become less challenging. In terms of cost, Macs beat Windows by roughly $100 (as per Gartner’s survey); the average IT labor cost is $100 more for Windows versus Mac (experiences differ widely across companies); and administration costs are equal. Macs fall only slightly costlier than Windows PCs.
iOS devices iPhone and iPad have already been accepted by enterprise IT. Apple is making efforts to align OS X with its iOS counterparts in looks and features, to expanding the outreach, usability and familiarity of the Mac OS. The Cupertino giant has also started renaming apps on Mac to match those on iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. The application folder in OS X Mountain Lion is very similar to the home page on these devices.
The Biggest Challenge
The biggest challenge for Macs in the enterprise lies in the applications available on the platform. Though Apple has an impressive list of over 500 business oriented applications, it still offers limited support to popular Microsoft Office applications, with insufficient support for Visual Basic and complex Excel macros.
Microsoft Office is deeply entrenched in enterprise workplaces with every department relying heavily on certain applications. For example, Finance personnel use Excel heavily, with its efficient collection of macros, functions and features.
Secondly, Windows has been in enterprises so long, it’s become an indispensable part of workspace culture. Macs on the other hand have always been exclusive – desirable but unaffordable. This may change in the next few years but Windows will continue to have a stronghold, especially now that the enterprise-friendly Windows 8 is out. Enterprise IT is watching it closely despite its lukewarm reception.
However, there’s no doubt that Macs are invading business spaces. IT must prepare to manage them along with other enterprise devices.
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