Apple's prospects for gaining significant ground in the enterprise may be better then many believed, according to the latest research.
Information Technology Intelligence Corp. (ITIC) recently published the results of survey of IT executives at some 700 companies around the globe, revealing that 68 percent plan to allow workers to deploy Macs within the next 12 months. The figure is nearly twice as high as the company reported earlier this year.
But probably the most remarkable thing about this new-found interest is that it has arrived without any significant effort on Apple's part to reach out to enterprise users. It could be that, since the survey also reports that some 80 percent of enterprises already have Macs deployed on a limited basis, with 82 percent of those rating the OS X as either excellent or very good, that the platform is selling itself as a robust business tool.
Let's also not forget the fact that virtualization is making it easier to integrate Macs into Windows environments, says InfoWorld's David Marshall. More than 30 percent of respondents in the ITIC survey report running virtualized Windows XP or Vista platforms on their Macs. And with the public still skeptical of Vista, the door is open for firms such as Parallels and VMware to push more Mac technology into the enterprise.
Virtualization could also be the key in bringing Apple's hot consumer product, the iPhone, into Windows environments as well. The company is said to be working with Citrix, a close Microsoft partner, on new versions of XenApp and XenDesktop that would let users migrate a Windows desktop onto the iPhone. Apple is also looking to add support for Microsoft Exchange, which would provide crucial integration with many enterprise email systems.
A lot has been made of Apple's seeming indifference to the enterprise market, although some are reading the tea leaves and seeing a possible shift in that strategy. Joe Wilson at CIO looks at the company's intention to no longer keynote top consumer trade shows like MacWorld-in fact, won't be exhibiting at all in the future-as a sign that a new enterprise strategy is in the works.
It seems that, having taken its lumps from Microsoft and Intel when operating systems were king, the less rigid world of virtual environments, clouds and dynamic resource allocation offers a unique opportunity for Mac to gain ground in the business world. Innovation and engineering could finally emerge as drivers of enterprise technology now that users are no longer locked into dominant vendor platforms. It would be a tremendous loss, both for Apple and the enterprise community, if top executives in Cupertino pass up the opportunity.