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IBM Businesses Apple

IBM's Pilot Program For Internal Use of Macs 257

Posted by kdawson
from the thinking-different-than-blue dept.
geoffrobinson writes "Roughly Drafted has obtained internal IBM documents detailing the results of a small pilot program for internal use of Macs. Positive and negative results were detailed, but overall most participants were happy with their Mac experience. The pilot will be expanded this year. One advantage cited: less reliance on Windows. So it seems a mix of Macs, PCs, and Linux boxes are in IBM's future. Given the history between IBM and Microsoft, this is quite interesting."
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IBM's Pilot Program For Internal Use of Macs

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  • by Realistic_Dragon (655151) on Friday April 18, 2008 @12:16PM (#23119668) Homepage
    Can you imagine the shocked faces seen around the world if it was announced that StuffHauler Inc, a long time Ford customer, was trying out GM brand vehicles? Me too, people would find it hard to believe!

    Right.

    In every other market it's normal to run trials to evaluate several options when making critical capital investment choices. It is only an inexplicable level of incompetence that means that most large companies don't do regular small scale tests of alternative solutions, just to keep tabs on them. Even if all you get out of it is some knowledge and possible a price break from a worried Microsoft it is still worth the time and money.

    Software investment in a 100k user company will be upwards of $10m yet the contracts are let without even a thought of competitive tender or technical justification. If I let that through for any vendor on my normal projects I would be shit canned so fast my seat would still be warm when my replacement arrived.
  • Given IBM's various and sundry Linux initiatives, I am more curious by the Mac versus Linux desktop implications here than Mac versus Windows. It seems obvious that IBM would shift off Windows as fast as they could regardless.
  • by truthsearch (249536) on Friday April 18, 2008 @12:21PM (#23119754) Homepage Journal
    But unlike most large companies, IBM isn't only a software customer. They're a vendor and consulting firm. This isn't news just because they're trying it in-house. The implications down the road are more IBM apps working natively on Macs and significant influence in migrating other companies to Mac desktops.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 18, 2008 @12:23PM (#23119786)
    IBM hasn't rolled out Vista support internally, so it's sort of everything versus Vista at this point. The standard software installer website currently lists Windows 2000, XP, and Linux. I doubt that the Mac OS will replace 2000, and Vista inevitably will. Oh well.
  • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Friday April 18, 2008 @12:23PM (#23119796) Homepage

    It's really not that strange-- it's not like the old days were Microsoft's OS is talked about as running on "IBM compatible computers". These days, Apple hardware isn't that different from anyone else's, so it's just a question of which operating system they want to run. Since IBM is so tied to Linux/Unix these days, it shouldn't surprise anyone that they're considering moving away from Windows.

    I think the more ironic thing is that they're probably considering the move because Macs have become more popular since moving from PowerPC architecture to Intel's chips. To spell out the irony a little bit more, IBM started considering using Apple's computers (partially) as a result of Apple ceasing to use IBM's chips.

  • by CommandoCody (1154955) on Friday April 18, 2008 @12:25PM (#23119820)
    We have a whole building of Macs here using Active Directory. I won't say it's trouble-free, but it works fairly well.
  • Upgrade cycle (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mveloso (325617) on Friday April 18, 2008 @12:40PM (#23120070)
    Note, though, that ignoring the hardware cost of a Windows box only is valid until the next hardware upgrade cycle.

    I think IBM's hardware replacement cycle is 3 years (leases), so if the timing is right there may not be that much extra expense. They'll have to upgrade the hardware to run Vista anyway, and the extra hardware cost of a Mac would be marginal at the scale that IBM is talking about. In fact, since it's all eaten by IBM finance the actual cost really doesn't matter that much (blue dollars).

    The question is if they got a productivity boost. It's unbelievably difficult to get those, so if they can show that they got a 4% or 6% boost in productivity by switching, that's more than worth the cost of the hardware/software. Scale that across IGS, and suddenly you've changed how well your whole company works.
  • by MickLinux (579158) on Friday April 18, 2008 @12:49PM (#23120218) Journal
    Even when the OS was significant, there would have been good reason to use all three.

    The Mac has long excelled as a desktop publishing machine, for example. So you would expect the advertisers and some of the manual writers to use it.

    On the other hand, for information that is internal, you probably would want to use TeX and LaTex a majority of the time. For that, I'd suggest Linux.

    Likewise, Linux makes a good server system. It is more easily and cheaply repairable than other systems, and can be expanded as necessary (and as new hardware becomes available). It is also good for quickly testing out new ideas. So lab computers and servers should probably be Linux.

    Finally, Windows is good for government compliance (yes, see, we're using a Windows system over there, right next to the desk fan. If we need to use windows, we have that too.) Basically, Microsoft gave their OS to the government and educational systems as a way of forcing others to use it. So by all means, every business should have at least one copy.

    Anyhow, that's how I ran our small business back in the 90's thru 2002, and it worked fine.

    Aside from that, having a windows system allowed me to complain. I find there's nothing more frustrating than hearing "how's it going", and having to say "Can't complain."

  • Re:What?!! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by peragrin (659227) on Friday April 18, 2008 @12:59PM (#23120366)
    Huh? Apple machines are the only ones that can run windows, OS X, and linux on the same box. You can have all three installed easily. hardware lock-in is for the software only.

    Yes OS X does have some strict software lock in then again no Apple product uses activation codes, that get lost, misused, or forgotten about by the Apple.

    Would MSFt give up product activation if their software only ran on selected hardware? hardware that could run anything else anyways?
  • So what? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by joeyblades (785896) on Friday April 18, 2008 @01:04PM (#23120420)
    These kinds of pilots happen all the time, always with the same results...

    (1) The user experience with the Mac OS is generally high

    (2) The IT department decides that more Macs means less dependence on IT

    (3) Less dependence on IT means smaller empires for IT managers...

    Guess who gets to decide what users are allowed to have on their desktops...
  • by maddskillz (207500) on Friday April 18, 2008 @01:05PM (#23120434)
    Actually, I think if this was a News for People who Like Trucks website, that would probably be big news.
  • by ErichTheRed (39327) on Friday April 18, 2008 @01:07PM (#23120484)
    Here's a good question. Microsoft released Office 2008 for Mac,and surprisingly it doesn't come with VBA. This could be _the_ major problem with interoperability.

    Companies live and die on Excel macros that various pseudo-programmers have put together over the years. What was Microsoft thinking? Oh wait, I know... :)

    In all seriousness, this is a cool thing. Apple has finally started down the enterprise compatibility road, with all the AD hooks and such in Mac OS. Being a Windows admin though, one of the really nice (and really limiting) things about Windows clients + Windows servers is group policy. I can change every machine's IE settings in 15 minutes as opposed to copying down a new firefox config file. I can control almost every tweakable setting on a Windows machine from one location. What's the cross-platform answer for this?

    At this point, the central management piece and availability of apps are the two big questions. The other is having the IT department support another piece of hardware.
  • by barzok (26681) on Friday April 18, 2008 @01:15PM (#23120558)
    True, but if IBM's consultants start showing up at client offices with MacBook Pros instead of Thinkpads, the clients will notice, and start thinking "hey, if it works for IBM, maybe we should look at using Macs too"
  • by jimicus (737525) on Friday April 18, 2008 @01:25PM (#23120696)
    Yet another interpretation is that IBM couldn't give a fsck about religion, but is aware of how much Microsoft licensing costs (even if you're IBM I'd imagine it's non-trivial).

    Combine that with the fact that they're almost certainly using Notes (rather than Exchange) for calendaring and email, and suddenly Windows is a very expensive choice for little benefit.
  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Friday April 18, 2008 @01:55PM (#23121070)

    I am sick of everyone's smarmy afterglow about their switch to Mac after all the "terrible" experiences with PCs and Windows.

    It is, however, very understandable. Users try OS X, realize some of the problems they've ben working around for years and no longer even think about are no longer problems. They get a bit crazy and try to understand why most people still use Windows and in the process can be very loquacious and annoying. It calms down after a few months or a year.

    But as a network admin, I have better control and flexibilty with PCs and AD than any Mac I have handled, and I started my IT career on Macs. The latest OS for Mac is very pretty and whiz-bang, but getting integration into a predominantly Windows environment requires additional software purchases, extra configuration issues and more time/money overhead.

    So you're saying your IT department standardized on solutions that locked you into one vendor, and now that users are demanding support for other vendors, your lack of foresight is biting you in the ass. Umm, maybe next time you should consider the future and flexibility as a feature so you don't have to purchase new software that handles the use case you did not consider.

    Yes... you can access an smb share on Windows from a Mac, after you turn of digital signing and reduce your domain's security level.

    It's called NFS. Any OS can use it. Why did you ignore the possibility of Mac or Linux or Solaris workstations when you picked a network file system?

    Every Mac Lover I encounter has the same story, "I use it at home and it's so easy. I must use it in the office!" Douchebag!

    Well why don't you just ask Microsoft to improve Windows. You're they're customer, surely any company you chose to do business with is responsive to your concerns as a customer, right? Oh wait, you chose to do business with an entire organization of douchbags you have repeatedly been convicted of crimes against their customers. Good choice there.

    Looking at porn at home and synchronzing data from your laptop to a domain share for redundancy while having access to Group Policy management are NOT the same thing.

    No they're not. Your job is to implement a solution for the latter that actually works for what your users want to do. You do realize IT is supposed to be about facilitating user needs, right?

    And the next person who shows me how awesome Time Machine is has a three word answer from me: Volume Shadow Copy. Windows Server has had this feature since 2003.

    Congratulations. You fundamentally misunderstood the ways in which Time Machine is innovative. I don't even use it, but I read the whitepaper. What kind of IT geek are you if you don't actually read up on new tech?

    And any company worth its salt has good virus protection, spam blocking and border security in place.

    What does this have to do with anything? Since when has border security stopped malware problems anyway? You seem about four to six years out of date when it comes to business security models.

    Now here comes the Mac which can make use of none of those office level features.

    The Mac can make use of plenty of those office level features, if you implemented a cross platform solution instead of locking yourself into one vendor. Man am I glad I haven't had to deal with vaguely incompetent IT people with Windows only skills for many years. Maybe you should take some courses at the community college or something.

    5% market share does not good anti- virus make.

    Maybe, maybe not. But whatever Apple has done, it works so far. Realistically, malware is not a problem for Macs at this time. In future that might change.

    When there are enough of them out there, and bored German teenagers get busy, then let's talk about how secure Macs are.

  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Friday April 18, 2008 @01:56PM (#23121074)

    What is so surprising? From my understanding, IBM Research is involved in the pilot program. And they are specifically studying issues involving Macs. IBM Research might be using Suns and Dell Linux boxes too for all we know. This is not IBM Sales using the Macs. That might bring shock. Even MS uses Macs in development and research.

  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Friday April 18, 2008 @02:23PM (#23121408)

    Poke around the site for a few minutes and it will be come really clear that Roughly Drafted is just some moron running a Microsoft hate blog. Chances are these "documents" are either made up or exaggerated.

    Can you cite a specific instance of Roughly Drafted posting fabricated documents in the past, or is this just an ad hominem attack?

    Let's stick to numbers and press releases when we start talking about market share and company's official positions on operating systems, not the musings of some apple-phile.

    Lets not.

    Besides, we know that IBM quite plainly supports linux and unix. They're a top linux contributor:

    How does IBM running a pilot program with OS X internally have anything to do with if they contribute to or support Linux?

    Chances are much greater they'll be using linux internally more and more as time goes on, not relying on yet another proprietary OS vendor they have no influence over.

    Since they're plainly in the process of doing this and since this was pointed out in the roughly drafted article, I don't see that your statement has any point.

    They probably use about as many macs internally as microsoft does- and that's not an ironic statement.

    They probably use fewer. What does that have to do with this article? It is about IBM testing Macs on their network (very useful for compatibility especially for their clients running mixed environments and possibly a sign of benefits for users of IBM solutions). It also talks about the preference for OS X over Windows by IBM employees. It's not surprising or anything, but that was the point stated, which you seem to have missed.

  • by itsdapead (734413) on Friday April 18, 2008 @02:24PM (#23121418)

    It doesn't serve anyone to replace MS licencing costs with Apple hardware costs

    What "Apple hardware costs"? 1990 called - they want their argument back. Macs have been reasonably competitive with comparable PC hardware for a while now. There is a problem if Apple don't make anything at the price point/form factor you want (e.g. you want a low end mini-tower or a basic cheap-chunky-and-cheerful laptop) but if you read TFA they're talking about MacBook Pros (high-end premium brand laptops) as an alternative to ThinkPads (high-end premium brand laptops) so I'm sure Apple will be able to cut IBM a pretty competetive deal (its not like IBM will be walking into the local Apple store and buying them individually, is it?)

    Also, TFA is talking about supporting a Mac option, not casting the PCs into the outer darkness, so they won't be trying to sell Mac Pros to clients who want a room full of mini-towers.

  • by vux984 (928602) on Friday April 18, 2008 @02:41PM (#23121622)
    As it is, IBM is a large multi-national corporation that is incapable of holding grudges.

    You'd be surprised.

    1) Individuals who may be in positions of power certainly can hold grudges.
    2) Corporate culture is defined by the people in the company. Grudges held by old employees can infuse the corporate culture and wear off on new employees, reinforcing and propogating them.

    Nothing that is blatantly unsound should get past the shareholders or its quarterly results fixated board, but when choosing between A and B when both are sound choices, the decision may come down to biases within the corporate culture.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 18, 2008 @02:59PM (#23121820)
    What exactly does IBM have to do with Thinkpads now [lenovo.com]?
  • by abhi_beckert (785219) on Friday April 18, 2008 @03:37PM (#23122342)

    If that was all there was to it, why wouldn't they have stopped using Windows already?

    The other change is that Mac OS X can now run windows in a VM almost as if there was no VM with parallels or vmware. This drastically reduces the risk to move to another platform, though it means a rise in costs until they can drop windows altogether.

  • by menace3society (768451) on Friday April 18, 2008 @04:06PM (#23122736)
    Not to reply to my own post like a jerk or anything, but if what I say true, it could be part of a serious strategic deal with Apple. Everyone "knows" Macs are incompatible with most of the big server apps, but if IBM's stuff is compatible, that will help IBM with all-Mac shops like graphic designers, and help Macs crack into the corporate big-leagues.
  • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Friday April 18, 2008 @05:02PM (#23123238) Homepage
    Ummm... yeah, that's exactly why it makes sense to use OSX as your desktop Unix. It's relatively easy to support and relatively intuitive for users to understand.
  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Friday April 18, 2008 @05:07PM (#23123284)

    Most viruses come from north and southeast Asia.

    I'm not sure that this is relevant. Worms come from many sources and a great many are obviously not being deployed and exploited by people in Asia. The point is, if you have a Mac you have basically have a negligible chance of being compromised and claims that this is entirely due to market share is, well irrelevant to all the points I made, even if true.

    Apple did only two things well with the iPod. The first is they marketed it supernaturally well and got everybody hooked on their cockamamie interface so they didn't want to use anything else.

    iPods were the first portable players of this sort that were easily usable one handed. That was a pretty nice innovation. As for marketing, sure they're pretty decent at that, but so is Sony and numerous other market entrants.

    Secondly they created the 1.5" hard drive. They weren't the first people to sick a hard drive in an mp3 player, but they were the first to use one that small.

    I don't think Apple did make that.

    What Apple did was to address the entire user experience with significant usability testing. They addressed having hardware and software and a service that worked together smoothly. I remember very intelligent people installing iTunes just to rip their CD collections because the software that came with the player they had purchased was too hard to use. They were the first manufacturer to offer an integrated music service with DRM that did not get in the average person's way and which allowed them to burn a CD of music purchased online. The main thing they did was concentrate on a subset of features, but polish those usability cases. It worked, even if you don't recognize the work that is involved in that. Go ahead an assume it is all Apple's ability to trick everyone into using a horrible interface with their brilliant marketing.

  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Friday April 18, 2008 @05:44PM (#23123552)

    Maybe NFS would have been a better choice, but I'm not going to apologize for making that decision.

    You're the one complaining about the limitations of that choice.

    And there are Mac clients for various virus and spam blocking systems.

    Who claimed otherwise?

    There is no reason to purchase Parallels and Mac/AD integration tools so someone can run email and Powerpoint on a differnt OS.

    The AD issue would be your poor choice of MS's closed and intentionally incompatible clone of LDAP instead of, well LDAP. As for Powerpoint, you know MS makes MS Office for OS X right? Or you could use any one of a dozen alternative presentation packages.

    Those work pretty well on a PC with Windows.

    So you're claiming a broken version of LDAP designed to ony work with Windows, only works with Windows? And you're complaining that you don't know how to install MS Office on a Mac?

    Bringing a Mac or Linux flavor into the mix does not improve the situation, it only adds more administrative overhead.

    It only adds overhead if you chose to build your infrastructure exclusively with products from one vendor, designed to lock you into that vendor. Don't blame others that your poor choice is now making more work for you.

    There are already soutions in place for the users to do the number one thing the network does in a company; provide access to and redundancy of data.

    And you again ignored everything but Windows when you chose those and now wish that had been a good choice. This seems somewhat familiar.

    Choice is a great option where users will manage their own issues. But that does not happen at most companies. IT is relied on to tie together the disparate elements of communication and reliability, and sometimes that means standardization.

    I believe you problem is you don't understand the difference between a standard, and just buying everything from one vendor. A standard is LDAP, which can be and is implemented by many different vendors. Building your directory service on top of it means you can be fairly sure no matter who you buy other components from, they'll be able to work with it. Choosing a proprietary alternative that is an intentionally broken version of LDAP designed to only work with Windows. You ignored the fact that you were being locked in and assumed that would never come back to bite you.

    Does IT change the game for the change? IS there a number one solution? What is it? Have I made all of the right choices? Maybe, maybe not.

    You know I've worked with IT departments where they did build everything on real standards. Adding some Mac clients for the PR department was not any harder than anything else. The same goes for any other type of client. Some new type of smartphone is a good buy, but isn't made by Microsoft, gee it works just fine too. It's called building a flexible and robust set of services.

    But to ask my original question/issue a little more plainly: What are you doing with your Mac that you are not able to do with your XP PC? You indicated it "didn't cut it" and I'm curious how?

    Well, having a functional command line that actually integrates with the end user applications is a big plus. Being able to install system services that let me use the same spellchecker, grammar checker, and text manipulation scripts in all my applications is pretty critical to my workflows. Being able to run Adobe Indesign without rebooting twice a day saves time and money, Using OmniGraffle to interoperate with one of our development departments and one of our customers is required. Testing HTML on alternative OS's is required (in fact Safari is more critical than IE to our customers), actually allowing me to smoothly use multiple monitors is pretty critical and actually getting it right when I take a laptop out of hibernate no m

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