My Mac Windows Switch

 
 
By Cameron Sturdevant  |  Posted 2010-04-13 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

eWEEK Labs Technical Director Cameron Sturdevant's year of using and covering Apple products in the enterprise has come to an end with a newfound respect for Mac hardware and the resistance of Mac OS X 10.6.3, code-named Snow Leopard, to hacks and viruses. For executives and high-value creative content users he sees Apple's appeal. But as we enter the cloud computing age, Sturdevant is less enamored of fat clients of any variety for routine office workers.

For just over a year I've used a variety of Apple devices-from the Xserve and Mac Pro to the iPhone and MacBook Pro-and even a Mac Mini-as my primary work systems in a Windows-oriented IT shop.

I made the switch because Apple PCs and iPhones-and now iPads-are coming into the enterprise. I wanted to travel with IT managers who were acquiring skills and products to effectively manage these alluring, adept client devices that captivate the hearts and minds of high-value, and therefore important to please, employees.

With the help of desktop virtualization tools that enabled me to easily access my e-mail via the Microsoft Outlook client running on a Windows 7 virtual machine, my experience showed that a longtime Windows user can adjust to life on a Mac. I didn't become a fanboy, but I experienced the endorphin rush that most Mac users speak of when things "just worked."

I'm turning the "Apple in the Enterprise" beat over to the capable P. J. Connolly, who recently joined our Lab staff. Connolly is a seasoned Mac user and brings a background of Apple coverage to eWEEK. He will continue our Mac-oriented product reviews and IT-oriented Apple analysis. 

As I reflect on the important lessons I learned during my travel through the land of Apple, I still wonder about the usefulness of the fat client to the bulk of business IT. And it is this questioning that holds me back from fandom either for Apple's "Snow Leopard" operating system or Microsoft's Windows 7, the operating system I started using full-time today. But before I go too far into future musings on the changes in store for end-user computing, here are the lessons I learned from my year on Macs. 

First, it was great to not worry about antivirus protection. My Mac got security updates-many of which required a reboot-almost as often as the Windows systems running in eWEEK Labs, but I never had to wait for a virus signature update or a pesky system scan. It was strangely odd to bank, check my credit card and shop online without really worrying about the security or safety of the personal computer (I was reminded many times by Apple users that Macs are PCs) I was using to visit those sites.

Second, it was awesome to have stuff "just work." This was true for my Mac desktop and server systems as well as my iPhone. As much as I like to tinker with a PC or phone, from an IT operations point of view, having applications install and work correctly was a luxurious experience.

Finally, my MacWorld experience showed that enterprise management tools for Apple products are bobbing to the surface. IT managers in regulated industries should acquire tools that bring the Mac into the management fold for compliance reasons. Configuration management tools are also available to help ensure that required software and patches are available so end users can concentrate on work, not system management.

Although Apple and Microsoft marketing encourages a childish snarling contest between the platforms, my experience showed me that IT managers must take a no-nonsense approach to system management. Once a corporate decision is made to support multiple desktop operating systems, there's no way a fan-based attitude toward one OS is going to make it easy or cheap to manage a second or third platform.

Despite the fun I had learning my Mac systems, what is becoming clear is that as I do more work on hosted applications my end-user priorities are shifting. In my changing enterprise world I care more about display size, network response time and remote printer support than whether my local PC is running Snow Leopard, Windows 7 or Linux.

 
 
 
 
Cameron Sturdevant Cameron Sturdevant is the executive editor of Enterprise Networking Planet. Prior to ENP, Cameron was technical analyst at PCWeek Labs, starting in 1997. Cameron finished up as the eWEEK Labs Technical Director in 2012. Before his extensive labs tenure Cameron paid his IT dues working in technical support and sales engineering at a software publishing firm . Cameron also spent two years with a database development firm, integrating applications with mainframe legacy programs. Cameron's areas of expertise include virtual and physical IT infrastructure, cloud computing, enterprise networking and mobility. In addition to reviews, Cameron has covered monolithic enterprise management systems throughout their lifecycles, providing the eWEEK reader with all-important history and context. Cameron takes special care in cultivating his IT manager contacts, to ensure that his analysis is grounded in real-world concern. Follow Cameron on Twitter at csturdevant, or reach him by email at cameron.sturdevant@quinstreet.com.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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