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"Beautiful Infrastructure" with Apple?

Of late, I’ve started to notice that this whole Apple as your work desktop machine is, well, working out. I am, of course, an Apple fanboy, so of course I want to see it succeed. The context here is largely for technical audiences, but I keep my eye firmly on non-technical workers. Indeed, several my friends who are the family “IT admin” — the guy the whole family, including extended, call to help them with their computer problems — tell me that when they give their family members Macs, the support calls stop.

Anyhow, here are 3 points on the topic, two of which are from the Coté-verse:

  • Ron says:

    I have to say, I am at least 5x more productive at home on my Mac than I am waiting 15 minutes for my Windows machine to boot and log into the network in the office. I tend to do my most important work off hours now, just to be able to work on a more intuitive and easier to use machine. I feel like I can concentrate more on the problem I am working on than how to do it, which again, tied into the whole Rails conversation for me.

  • Ron also summarizes Dave Fayram‘s discussion of working in an OS X shop in our podcast this week:

    It was interesting to hear Dave talk about how “beautiful” their infrastructure is, because they have been able to focus on things aside from security, VPN, notification frameworks and the like because a lot of the things that infrastructure folks spend most of their time on are taken care of already on a Mac network.

    One interesting aspect of this setup was how reliant it was on using peer-to-peer think vs. centralized server think.

  • As I understand it, Apple has been shipping more computers (not just iPods) of late: “Apple shipped 1.517 million Macs during the quarter, representing 36 percent yearly growth.” Sure, Dell, Acer, and Lenovo still ship a ton. But, hey, it’s growth on Apple’s part which is still, well, weird. See also the Vista angle.

I often wonder what the “business” and “enterprise” stories are with Apple, specifically as desktops. I rarely hear people saying their stuff doesn’t work — price and simply noticing their presence seem more the barriers. The biggest question I always have is: is Apple interested in business and enterprise desktop sales? That’s a silly question, who wouldn’t answer yes?

But, I feel like there’s a bug stack of marketing firewood yet to be lit ablaze to accelerate and encourage that growth. No problem for Apple’s bottom-line, really, they seem to be doing all right at the moment. There’s also that cynic in the back of my head that says, “could Apple really handle the demands of being a business desktop supplier? Are they too cool for that?”

It’s more a desire on my part to see more positive experiences like the above: getting beautiful, IT infrastructure out of the box so that the IT department can focus on creating strategic value with IT rather than just keeping it running and the user complaints to a manageable hum.

Update: check out this piece for some cold water on the above. In sum: the business software support isn’t there.

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6 Responses

  1. apple's not really interested in Enterprise right now although they do have AD binding, a great cross-platform SAN and also a great migration path (or two) from Exchange to the Apple platform. (And don't forget Oracle on OS X / Xserves and Xserve RAIDs).
    The article you link to is waaaay off, sorry to say. I routinely support Macs in AD environs and have very little problems except maybe a few calendar features that Entourage 2004 does not have — but probably will in a few months with Office 2007 Mac.
    If anything, the main issues that I have seen is that PC admins tend to like job security — but any other BSD guy or Lin guy could have told you that 😉


  2. Thanks for the info, Ken 😉

  3. Apple's focus should be on the making superior products in order to provide Mac users with the best possible end-user experience for now. Of course they should invest in the marketing that distinguishes them from other box makers like Dell.

    For Apple to get into the market share numbers game or cut throat entripise business at this point would be a mistake- busenesses want a lot for a little. Meaning lots of overhead support with minimal margins.

    And Apple should continue to make consumer products like the iPhone if not for the very reason that it diversifies it's product profile allowing for down turns in certain products as well as offsetting seasonal demand dips.

    In addtion, since the beginning Apple has been dependent on two companies, namley, Microsoft and Adobe and the further they slowly divorce themselves from this dependency or take the upper the hand, the more successful they will be. The iPOD, the iPhone and iTunes are slowly but surely causing this much needed shift of power.

  4. I hope Apple stays focused on being the tool of choice for "creative professionals people" and not worry about this whole enterprise thing. It would undoubtedly suck the life out of their products making them in to just another collection of beige boxes. I like that they are a small company (when compared to Microsoft and IBM). I think that it lets them flex their creative muscle more effectively.

  5. Nice one Cote

    Me thinks Apple going forward will have more compelling solutions for business customers in general. but don't expect a Dell/M$ like combination here, If Apple do something they will (are?) thinking different.

    They may well also need some new channel/partners/networks to help deliver however, and that fascinates me, I still can't quite grep how they will do this but maybe they are already building the channel into their products, look carefully at this offering :

  6. To clear it up: I don't want Apple to get all "enterprisey" either. Rather, I'd be interested in seeing what it could do to make the "9-5 experience" as nice as they do the "after hours" life of information workers. Apple is skilled at taking "boring" categories and products and making people excited and rewarded by them: like MP3 players and iPods, Unix desktops and OS X (sorry!), wireless routers and Airports (people glow about the music and print/USB hard drive burganprell).

    So, the point is more: can Apple do some subtle, probably mostly non-technological things to get buisnesses looking more into using Apples? I think the answer is yes. More importantly, it seems like the Leopard release cycle (which, as a side note, tragically appears to be going Vista) has several business minded aspects.