How hard is it managing Macs in the enterprise? Harder than you might think. Expect lackluster enterprise support from Apple and its horde of Mac developers, for starters. Enterprise savvy Windows developers rushing poor Mac components to market bring frustration, too.
In the corporate world, a shortfall in Mac management can have real impact on worker productivity. Swapping a 20-terabyte file sharing system with one that isn't native to the Mac, for instance, can spell disaster for Mac folks who suddenly are locked out of critical files.
Such tech nightmares surely will become more common as the Mac makes its way to the enterprise. Earlier this week, Apple unleashed a hardware refresh, including a rare update to its powerhouse desktop, Mac Pro. New iMacs also came to market, and its popular MacBook Pro received a small speed boost.
In a recent survey of some 700 companies by Information Technology Intelligence, a whopping 68 percent of respondents said they will allow Macs in their environment within the next 12 months. The survey also found that nearly one out of four companies had at least 30 Macs in their businesses.
"Although Mac's market share in business is still extremely small, it's been growing," says Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa. Now Macs are at a tipping point: Many companies are having to hire a Mac engineer for the first time to manage the swelling ranks of Macs. Last year, Gartner began formally evaluating Macs for enterprises.
So what is Gartner's Mac analysis? "We don't really recommend Apple," says Kitagawa, adding, "Apple doesn't provide standard enterprise support like image service and lifecycle support nor has a global account-management umbrella."
Nightmare No. 1: Apple's eye not on businesses
Apple has traditionally turned a blind eye when it comes to supporting Macs in the enterprise-and that's bad news for Mac engineers trying to keep up with the PC counterparts.
When Dell, for instance, plans to release a new PC to the market, the computer maker will give the machine to its enterprise customers a month earlier. Systems management engineers can test and certify their standard Windows build, VPN and third-party applications. When the new PC hits the market-and business users want it-the engineers are ready to support it. Mac engineers, on the other hand, get their hands on a new MacBook Pro along with everyone else.
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