Macs Rebound at RAND

A cross-platform strategy is bringing Macs further into the fold at RAND. And the think tank isn't the only enterprise going in that direction, thanks to lower Macintosh prices, the wave of enthusiasm surrounding Apple's consumer products and disenchantment with Microsoft's Windows Vista operating system.

Spurred by renewed popularity of Apple products, many enterprises are taking a fresh look at the Apple Macintosh platform. The result: an unmistakable uptick in enterprise Mac deployments.

For many companies that embrace the Mac, the obstacle of strangeness looms largest. Introducing a new end-user computing system brings with it questions of application compatibility, management tools and administrator skills. At RAND, however, allowing a new generation of Macintosh users to be themselves in a corporate environment is nothing new. Indeed, it harks back to the early days of the Macintosh, when 80 percent of end-user systems at RAND were Macs.

Known as a think tank specializing in top-secret studies for the military, RAND, with headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif., also does plenty of publicly available research in the realms of health, education, labor, aging, employment and the arts.

Click here for eWEEK's look back at 25 years of Apple Macintosh.

Starting from a majority-Mac environment in the mid-1980s, PCs gradually displaced Macs at RAND until a few years ago, when the Mac share of the research firm's user base was down to 20 percent. Thanks to renewed interest in the Mac, that share has crept up to 22 percent, or about 400 of RAND's nearly 2,000 employees, according to Dan O'Donnell, information systems security officer at RAND.

The Mac rebound at RAND is aided by the organization's cross-platform end-user strategy that affords equal stature not only to Macintosh and Windows, but to Solaris and Linux. That have-it-your-way spirit is important at a company in which skilled experts make up the heart of the work force and bring in the bulk of the income, said O'Donnell.