In May 2011, research firm IDC decided that iPads and other portable devices with ARM-based mobile chips would be categorised alongside Intel PC processors. This puts Apple in serious contention to become the leading portable computer vendor in 2012.
According to Taiwan’s DigiTimes, market research firms are predicting that sales will increase in 2012 to 80 million tablets (from 60 million in 2011), with Apple devices accounting for 60 million of them. Apple is also expected to ship 15 million MacBooks in 2012, giving it a combined 75 million units or between 25 to 30 percent share of the global notebook market.
So is Apple an enterprise-class vendor? In his November 2009 blog, John Pescatore, vice president and research fellow at Gartner, notes that Apple can never become an enterprise-class vendor until it addresses the security requirements of enterprises.
However, two events in 2011 may change this perception. The first is the unrelenting consumerisation of IT, which sees consumers forcing IT to finally allow personal devices to become part of the enterprise infrastructure. The second is Apple's declaration that it does understand the importance of security and has worked on securing its platform.
According to Netmarketshare, Apple is making headway as the preferred mobile platform, with the iOS operating system steadily gaining market share in the past year. Apple's positioning of iOS as a "cool" client computing operating system has attracted a group of loyal customers on its devices and platforms coupled with its continued innovation process.
What can business organisations do to roll out new technologies effectively and efficiently? Most organisations have long-entrenched deployment processes for operating systems, applications and software updates that are network-based, thus making it easier to deploy only one type of device across the entire enterprise, leaving no room for a variety of technologies. Nearly all business applications today are written for and developed specifically for the Windows operating environment, making it difficult traditionally for IT departments to provide Apple support in the enterprise.
However, according to Forrester Research’s senior analyst David K Johnson, one of the main reasons why employees are increasingly inclined to choose Macs over PCs is speed. Johnson says: “Many of today's corporate PCs are saddled with management, backup, and security agents that can bog down a PC. Employees want their PCs to boot in 10 seconds, not 10 minutes, and they don't want to have to get a cup of coffee while opening a 20 MB spreadsheet in Excel. They're drawn to uncluttered Macs -- especially those with solid-state drives, which are more responsive and boot in seconds."
At the same time, with the consumerisation of IT, enterprises today are slowly accepting Apple machines in the enterprise with the caveat that these Mac OS-based computers must comply with existing enterprise policies around security, manageability and software licensing policies.
Apple, itself, provides a way to run Windows on a Mac through Apple Boot Camp. However the process requires rebooting the computer every time the user wants to switch between Mac applications and Windows programs – a highly inefficient process. The rapid growth of work from home culture, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) to work, smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices and the adoption of cloud-based technologies is increasingly pressuring employers to introduce more flexible measures within corporations.
To keep up with the BYOD trend, IT departments need to either explicitly include Apple devices in their standard operating environments or implement desktop virtualisation to make core applications device agnostic.
Ovum principal analyst Roy Illsley says desktop virtualisation can go a long way towards alleviating the pressure of PC maintenance costs, end-user flexibility and the proliferation of mobile devices for CIOs.
With desktop virtualization, business users can experience as much or as little Windows as they want. Multiple view modes make it possible for users to customise the level of integration between Mac and Windows without compromising performance.
Apple itself is still a long way away from meeting the stringent enterprise policies around software licensing and management. With no certainty as to when this becomes a reality, companies like Parallels recognise the users’ need to define what tools, including computers, they want to use at work, and are building solutions to bridge the computing divide that exists between what users want and what IT, as caretaker of enterprise IT, must enforce.
Apple surfs into workplace on BYO wave, Sydney Morning Herald
Jan-Jaap Jager is vice president / general manager of Parallels Asia Pacific
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