With the consumer popularity of iPhone, many of your staff may be passionate about bringing their Apple products to work. Does Apple play nicely at work? There is no one right answer for this question, factors include the likely current and future IT infrastructure environment at that workplace, plus the types of software, especially legacy software, that are required to be used.
- there is a case for standardisation with staff IT – try where possible to use the same software (and even hardware) because issues arising will become familiar to all users and so you achieve economies of standardisation with repairs, with training, with interoperability. Even in today’s much more hardware agnostic world, chosing either a Microsoft or Apple environment and sticking with it, seems most cost effective and least problem prone.
- iPhone has improved it’s software so that the phone’s Mail client now runs pretty well with most corporate email servers. Similarly with Android phones. If you run Exchange Server in your business then windows phones will provide the best client interface, however all platforms are usable.
- iPad – not business ready for many reasons. No remote desktop support, limited LAN file support, no multitasking etc etc. This is a consumer only device. Having said that if your mobile staff have very basic web/email requirements then an iPhone or iPad may be sufficient for some roles. (A better choice for business would be full operating system tablet eg Surface Pro, which gives all the same touch tablet benefits but which can also run full business software packages and utilise full computer keyboard, mouse, multitasking and networking capabilities..
- Macs (Macbooks through to iMac and Mac Pros). These are full operating system devices, running Apples OS X operating system and whilst none of them currently have any touch screen capability, OS X has around 10% global market share, many legacy apps eg accounting or specialist software won’t run natively, they may still have a role in your business, particularly in niche areas such as graphic design and music production.
- Increasingly OS X is becoming more and more supported by software developers and whilst currently OS X still a relatively minor player in the full operating system market, this may change with time and OS X may also eventually end up with touch capability although Apple have indicated otherwise, so far.
- Windows, for example, currently has between 70-85% of the global computer market by comparison.
- Whilst OS X is an engaging, robust and functional software environment it is not specifically aimed at business. Businesses often need to run specialist software or productivity software that may not run natively on a Mac. Common solutions to this involve running windows on Mac hardware eg dual booting Macs (to make the Mac run windows) or running windows in a virtual machine on the Mac. This can work well but windows software also needs to be purchased and maintained over and above the cost of the Mac hardware and software which means OS X IT purchase and maintenance costs can often be up to twice that of windows and because many tasks can or need to be set up on both software platforms, resulting in varying degrees of duplication.
- Hardware and can be purchased at many price and quality points, Apple hardware tends to be very well made but is typically more expensive than equivalent windows hardware
- Take a Mac user who runs windows on top of the their Mac OS X in a virtual machine. Their email and calendar may be on the Mac but they may be working in windows using the corporate accounting or design package and then find they have to send email from the the accounting package but there is no direct way to use their Mac email environment and so, depending on the IT scenario, they might also get their email set up again on windows so the accounting system can send. Once their email is configured on both windows and mac, every time a change is made or a staff member turns over, then the email setup process needs to be done twice rather than just once.
- In short, yes, Macs certainly have a valuable role in some businesses but solutions need to be designed cleverly so as to avoid unnecessary increases in capital expenditure, support costs and IT administration costs.
- Blended OS IT is more complex than standardisation and the secret to success is in the IT site planning and design that is done prior to purchase, otherwise this can be a needlessly expensive and fraught process.
Contact MLPA for more advice and information about incorporating Apple hardware and software into your business IT environment.