With Apple's new Leopard operating system coming out to mostly rave reviews and Vista drawing a lukewarm response at best, many enterprises are seriously considering bringing Macs into their environments.
And now that virtualization is breaking the bond between hardware and software, it's easier than ever to replace aging PCs with new Macs and still enjoy all of the Windows- and Linux-based software that users rely on.
As this article on MacWorld points out, the cost of virtualization is dropping rapidly, with some entry-level open source solutions, such as VirtualBox, actually available for free. And with Leopard shipping with the BootCamp virtualization system, users can power up a 32-bit version of XP or Vista at the drop of a hat.
UNIX users also might want to take a new look at Leopard now that The Open Group has certified the client and server versions of the system under the UNIX 03 framework. Of course, Apple doesn't provide nearly the hardware options that UNIX users are accustomed to, and it doesn't seem to be as administration-friendly as long-time UNIX systems, such as HP-UX, AIX and Solaris, but it's a start, and future versions will probably correct these deficiencies.
There's also growing third-party software support to consider. Microsoft itself is leading the charge with the upcoming Office 2008, due for release next month. Updated Word, Excel and PowerPoint will be included, as well as a system called Entourage for Exchange server integration.
Some critics argue, however, that Apple may be new and fresh on the enterprise scene, but the company is largely a one-trick pony: No matter what your specific needs may be, Apple has a Mac for you. Complex problems often require complex solutions, and vendors like IBM and HP that offer multiple solutions may be able to zero in on certain thorny issues better than Apple.
So is Leopard ready for the enterprise or not? Probably the best advice we can give you is to see for yourself. Check it out on the tradeshow floor, run the numbers any which way you can, and if you like what you see, give it a try. In short, let Apple make its case to you just like any other vendor.