Macs are often the black sheep in the many enterprise environments which have been dominated by Windows for nearly two decades, but the growing consumerization of IT is slowly changing that perception. Though Macs often have a higher up-front price than many business-class PCs, Macs are usually believed to have a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) due to lower support costs. A recent survey of IT professionals in large enterprise environments that have a mix of Macs and PCs overwhelmingly agree that Macs cost less than PCs to support.
The Enterprise Desktop Alliance, which seeks to make it easier to integrate Macs in Windows-centric IT deployments, surveyed IT admins from companies that made large deployments, including universities and government agencies. Responses included in EDA's analysis include those from environments with a mix of Macs and PCs that had a total of 50 servers or over 100 Macs.
A majority of respondents said that Macs cost less in terms of time spent troubleshooting, user training, help desk calls, and system configuration. Admins generally agreed that costs related to software licensing and supporting infrastructure were the same between the two platforms.
Two-thirds of those managing mixed environments plan to increase the number of Macs deployed in 2010. Twenty-nine percent cited lower TCO as a "key reason" for deploying Macs. Almost half cited lower TCO, ease of support, or a combination of the two as leading factors in Mac adoption. User preference and increased productivity were considered important factors as well.
"As a greater percentage of enterprise applications become OS-neutral, the cost to support a more diverse hardware and OS mix will decrease, making Macs a more viable choice for a greater number of users who continue to demand them," noted Michael Silver, vice president and research director at Gartner, in a recent report on PC trends. Macs tend to be popular among C-level execs, as well as with those in creative departments and developers (especially cross-platform developers).
Apple has historically done little to actively develop a traditional strategy to target enterprise deployment. Instead, the company tends to focus on consumers first, and lets individuals drive enterprise demand for its computers and mobile devices. It does, though, make continual small improvements that make it easier to integrate Macs, iPhones, and soon iPads into many corporate environments.
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