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Software Firms Ally to Bridge Mac Enterprise Gap

By Katherine Noyes MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Jun 30, 2008 2:32 PM PT

A group of five enterprise software companies on Monday announced the creation of the Enterprise Desktop Alliance to facilitate the acceptance of Macintosh computers in organizational environments managed with Microsoft Windows.

Software Firms Ally to Bridge Mac Enterprise Gap

The alliance -- created by Atempo, Centrify, Group Logic, LANrev and Parallels -- will validate and promote the availability of solutions that make it easier to deploy, integrate and manage Macs in the enterprise using Microsoft Windows-based solutions.

"The popularity of the Mac among corporate end-users does not mean that there have to be headaches for IT administrators," said Peter Frankl, founder and chief operating officer of LANrev. "We are determined to help companies integrate Macs into their enterprise environments by reducing total cost of ownership and increasing IT acceptance of Macs in the enterprise."

Five Key Areas

The EDA's cross-platform solutions are specifically designed to maintain the Mac experience for established users when interfacing with a Windows infrastructure. At the same time, by extending the standard Windows-based management environment, EDA solutions enable the Mac to be viewed and to act as a peer to Windows in an enterprise.

Among the areas EDA is targeting are enterprise data protection; identity and access management; file and print services; systems life-cycle management; and virtualization.

The result, the group says, will be to allow enterprises to easily integrate Macs and achieve the same level of control, security, policy compliance and service that they currently have with their Windows platforms.

Identical Service Delivery

Specifically, administrators can deliver the same standards of service, maintain uniform client configuration, enforce the same security controls, make the same sharepoints and print queues available, deliver the same disaster recovery, and enforce the same compliance policies for both Mac and Windows systems, EDA said.

In addition, those same capabilities can be applied to the virtual version of Windows that runs on the Mac, the group added.

Mac users, meanwhile, will be unaware that they are using a Windows infrastructure. In fact, EDA improves the user experience by increasing system performance, providing single sign-on, delivering transparent update and patch management, and letting users retrieve lost files or their entire system without administrator intervention.

Improved Collaboration

EDA solutions extend the capabilities of the Mac through system virtualization, allowing the Mac to streamline access to Windows-only applications and productivity tools. It also becomes easier for Mac and Windows users to share files, EDA said.

Users on either platform can see identical views of files on the same Windows server and work at the same revision level in Microsoft Office software, for example, ensuring easy file exchange and enhancing cross-platform collaboration.

"It's about time," Kevin Ford, founder and CEO of Parliant, a company that develops telephony solutions for Mac OS X, told MacNewsWorld.

"In many ways the solutions have been around for a long time, but if this creates a professional organization that can speak mainframe, Microsoft and Apple and help with the necessary integration and connection, then something that has been ready and ripe to occur for the last five years will finally happen," Ford said. "This is simply the formalization of the maturing of the communication tools between those two worlds."

'Huge Need'

Indeed, "I definitely think there's a huge need for something of this type," Jonathan Edwards, a research associate with Yankee Group, told MacNewsWorld.

Macs are increasing in corporate environments thanks in part to the "consumerization of the enterprise," whereby users bring in their own applications, Web services and other technology, bypassing IT approval, Edwards explained.

IT people are often not trained on Macs, he added, so "what's happened historically is that anyone who has chosen to use a Mac within the enterprise pretty much had to self-serve and troubleshoot on their own," he said.

Nevertheless, Macs can work very well in a Windows environment, he asserted, so the EDA's efforts could provide significant relief all around.

Coup for Apple

"There's been a huge hole there," Edwards said. "IT might even be very accepting of this kind of alliance because they'll get some support from the outside on some of the security and governance issues they've had to worry about."

Of course, the biggest winner will likely be Apple, he added.

"This is a flag for Microsoft," Edwards concluded. "With the increasing usage of Web services and software as a service, the operating system becomes less and less relevant," he said.

'Macs Are Coming'

"I absolutely see a need for this," Alykhan Jetha, CEO of Marketcircle, agreed. Marketcircle develops business applications for the Mac platform.

"Whether enterprises like it or not, Macs are coming," Jetha asserted.

Ease of use is one reason users often switch to the Mac, but the popularity of the iPhone is another, he told MacNewsWorld. "People try out the iPhone, and after six months or so, they start warming up to the Mac," he explained.

"IT folks are just going to have to adapt, and this alliance will help in that direction," Jetha concluded.

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