Article on Macs in the Enterprise

I recently came across the following article in CIO:…

While the author makes several technical errors, I found a number of her points to be valid. The one I want to explore today is an interesting claim she makes that the cost of supporting Macs in the enterprise may, in fact, be greater than the cost of PC support. While this may not sound right, I believe it may be true. But don’t be fooled. The potential higher cost of support is not due to any reduced quality of hardware or software. And, don’t assume that even with the higher cost of support that the TCO is necessarily higher when compared to Windows PCs.

The author identifies one of the factors in a higher support cost is that Mac users tend to be a bit more demanding than their PC counterparts, demanding more time and attention from network administrators, technicians, etc. I have found this to be true in my experience with Mac users. Not only to Mac users seem to be more demanding, they also seem to expect more from their computer, and well they should. The average lonely Mac or group of Macs sitting on a PC/Windows-centric network is underutilized. Typical Microsoft-certified technicians/administrators don’t know how to accommodate these foreign machines in ways that will make them truly productive members of the corporate network.

This leads me to add my additional factor for potentially higher Mac support costs – higher labor cost. In order to get someone who does know how to make Macs truly productive on the average corporate network, you must find someone not only with Mac expertise, but experience with Windows/PC administration as well. These network professionals will also likely have many other advanced networking skills and will likely cost more than the average MCSE.

This is also an issue of scale. The more Mac support an organization does, the cheaper it will be become. Most organizations will need to support Windows PCs today, regardless of whether they need Mac support. What’s the expression? Cheaper by the dozen?

Organizations should still consider Mac deployment even if Mac support costs will be higher. Many enterprise users are discovering the benefits of Macs in their homes, and these same benefits are valid in the enterprise, as well as many more, specific to business use.

With Microsoft’s recent release of Vista, businesses are and should take a good look at Mac deployment in the enterprise.