Macs Get Enterprise Management Help

Over the past few years, more of Apple Macs computers (desktops and notebooks) have been making their way into the enterprise through the back door, i.e. not necessarily with IT’s approval.

Increasingly, users familiar with the iPod andiPhone (including company executives and managers) have either purchased Macs for their departments or have pushed IT to include Macs in their desktop orders.

That has left IT in a quandary because it cannot fight the groundswell but, at the same time, lacks the tools to enforce systems management disciplines on what has, up to now, been essentially a rogue platform in the enterprise.

The need for better management tools was great enough that five vendors have formed the Enterprise Desktop Alliance which they said is designed to help IT better manage Macs in the enterprise.

The five are Atempo, Centrify, Group Logic, LANrev and Parallels.

Their executives essentially told InternetNews.com the same story: Over the past two years or so, users have increasingly brought the Mac into the enterprise and the five decided to band together to leverage the opportunity in this growing market.

One reason the Mac has become a bit more IT-friendly on its own dates back to 2006 when Apple moved to a more standard x86 architecture. Virtualization technology, allowing Windows software to run on Macs, has also helped. Macs still only have about a mid single share of the overall PC market, but that’s almost double from only a few years ago.

An increasing interest in more Mac support

“When we five compared notes, we saw the same groundswell movement among our customers — their end users were going into their IT shops and pushing really hard to get support for the Mac environment, and were buying Macs,” Atempo vice president of product management and marketing Karim Toubba told InternetNews.com.

“So there was a movement from enterprises who’d deployed our solutions to extend them to the Mac.”

Atempo offers enterprise data protection solutions for the Windows environment, and about a year ago, it extended them to the Mac after hearing reports from its customers.

“Macs are coming in through the back door into the enterprise because more people are using iTunes, iPods and iPhones at home and want to use them at work, and these work better with the Mac,” Centrify CEO Tom Kemp told InternetNews.com.

Centrify, which extends the Microsoft Active Directory to non-Microsoft platforms, lets Mac users sign on to their desktops using Active Directory usernames and passwords so “there’s just one digital identity that lets them log on to both Windows and Mac platforms,” Kemp said.

It also lets IT administrators apply Active Directory’s Group Policy technology to their Macs.

Next page: Consumer-driven tech hits the enterprise

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Consumer-driven tech hits the enterprise

Like Kemp, Peter Frankl, COO of automated system and client management tool vendor LANrev, sees consumer technology driving the entry of Macs into the enterprise.

“At one of our midsize business customers which runs, an old Windows environment; the CEO and three other C-level executives got iPhones; then they switched to MacBook Pros because these work better with the iPhones; and now they’re an all-Mac shop,” he told InternetNews.com.

There’s another reason Macs are catching on in the enterprise: running the Mac in enterprises with AppleTalk “was a nightmare,” and things are a lot easier with Ethernet and the new communication technologies, Frankl said.

LANrev’s automated system and client management products are for both the Windows and Mac platforms.

Group Logic will offer file and print services for the Mac, and virtualization vendor Parallels will offer virtualization capabilities — its Parallels Desktop for the Mac has more than one million users and lets users run other operating systems including Windows and Linux beside OS X in their Macs.

IDC analyst Richard Shim told InternetNews.com that the Mac’s infiltration into the enterprise market has been “under the radar” because Apple has not been pursuing the corporate market actively and because traditionally users haven’t really been demanding the Mac.

However, the cool factor has played a big part in the adoption of the Mac in the enterprise.

It’s cool to use an iPod or iPhone; the Mac is sexier; and users “see the Mac as a little more technologically advanced or easier to use than Windows” helped boost the Mac’s profile in the enterprise.

Technological factors also played a part. For one, there’s a widespread belief that the Mac is more secure than Windows; and second, Vista has not done well and users are seeking alternatives, Shim said.

“The enterprise market’s client-driven to a large degree, and the growing influence of the Mac platform is resonating with IT managers now as they look at security and other issues,” Shim added.

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