These Macs mean business

Apple’s products my have a shot at enterprise adoption after all, according to the Enterprise Desktop Alliance. IDC says more companies are building applications for the Macintosh platform

A group of companies that build products to ease the integration of Macs in the enterprise had been separately championing a heterogeneous IT environment where both Macs and Windows can co-exist. Combining those efforts into an umbrella organization seemed like a good idea.

"We started seeing each other at tradeshows, we started talking individually and... we felt that doing it as a whole would be far more powerful than doing it individually," said co-founder Peter Frankl.

Formed just a few months ago, the consortium, Enterprise Desktop Alliance (EDA), includes LANrev, Group Logic, Centrify, Atempo, and Parallels. It seeks to combat perceptions that an enterprise-wide deployment of Mac machines would be more trouble than it's worth. "There's this great misperception out there that Macs are difficult to use and manage in Windows environments. And it's simply not true," said Frankl, who is also the founder and chief operating officer at LANrev.

The EDA members want to fill the vacuum around information on Mac deployments available to enterprise IT managers, and help them realize that both platforms, Apple and Windows, can be managed within the same infrastructure.

In fact, the key requirements of enterprise IT -- for instance, authentication, management, Active Directory integration, and backup -- are already met with tools that exist for Mac machines, and "gives what IT needs, but not everybody knows that," said Reid Lewis, EDA co-founder and CEO at Group Logic.

Driven away by ennui

It may have been the case that enterprise Mac deployments were tricky due to the lack of Windows-compatible applications and enterprise-specific tools that enable network manageability, said Richard Shim, research manager with IDC's personal computing group.

"But that's gradually changing with third-party companies building more applications for the Mac, and those [companies] that allow the Mac to be able to live in the Windows world," said Shim, referring to vendors like those comprising the EDA.

But what's changed accordingly is the market share that Macs hold in the enterprise, rising to eight per cent from approximately four, according to Vince Londini, research analyst with Info-Tech Group.

There are several drivers pushing the growth. For one, said Londini, there's "an ennui with Microsoft" given the lengthy position of dominance the software mogul has held. "Apple has been successful at capitalizing on that by pitching itself as the bright, cheery, usable alternative."

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