Business Hardware

Vendors Team to Push Corporate Use of Macs

A group of five vendors has formed an alliance to help push Macintosh desktops into managed Windows environments on corporate networks.

The efforts of the Enterprise Desktop Alliance (EDA) -- which was formed last week by Atempo, Centrify, Group Logic, LANrev and Parallels -- are not about displacing Windows but raising awareness that the Macintosh is a viable alternative because it can be managed using integration tools and existing Windows infrastructure.

Many IT issues with the Macintosh in the past had to do with networking and management.

The vendors, which are hoping to add some user members, develop tools that help companies deploy, integrate and manage Macintoshes using Windows-based infrastructure.

The evolution of the Macintosh platform over the past few years, including a shift to the Intel architecture, has brought it into closer alignment with the needs of enterprise computing even though Apple largely ignores the corporate market.

Surveys of Macintosh penetration in the enterprise typically peg market share around 4% to 8%. In October of last year, IDC reported that the Macintosh's share of the PC shipment market was up to 6.9%. Also, the rise in laptop use, the popularity of Macintosh-based notebooks, and devices like the iPhone are helping fuel both back-door raids and front-office assaults by the Macintosh.

"Sometimes it happens top down," says Peter Frankle, COO of LANrev. "We have one customer where the top four C-level executives ended up getting iPhones in an all Windows infrastructure. They liked them so much they got MacBook Pros and then suddenly IT was charged with supporting its four most important clients using MacBooks."

Technologies like virtualization and Apple's BootCamp, which both let Windows and Windows-based applications run on the Macintosh, also are blurring the lines between an either/or choice for IT. Also, migration costs and hardware overhauls associated with Microsoft's Vista are leading corporate IT to explore all its options.

Now the EDA is saying infrastructure to support the Macintosh platform should not be an issue because for Windows shops it is already there.

EDA members develop software that hits a number of integration points between Windows and Macintosh with Atempo providing data protection, Centrify identity and access management, Group Logic file and print services, LANrev systems lifecycle management and Parallels virtualization.

Frankle says IT can achieve the same level of configuration management, disaster recovery, security and policy compliance on Macintoshes that they have with Windows and the Windows infrastructure. For example, Active Directory can be used to control access privileges and create audit trails for Macintosh desktops.

EDA plans to host a series of Webcasts and seminars to prove their points, and will publish white papers, product information and other resources on its Web site.

Frankle says Phase 2 of development of EDA will include the addition of user members, and a Phase 3 could include expansion beyond the management focus.

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