Key Considerations for IT Pros with Macs in the Enterprise
As more Macs move into the workplace – whether through C-level or departmental desires or as part of intentional "Bring Your Own Computer" programs – you need to think about ways to speed corporate Mac deployment, protect your investment in your application stack, maintain compliance and deliver positive ROI sooner rather than later.
As you build your plans, you will need to consider several alternatives for providing Windows applications to your Mac users. These are among the most popular.
Proven technology for more than a decade, using virtual machines to provide a managed corporate desktop is simple. The desktop virtualization application is installed on the target computer and allows that hardware to run multiple independent "desktops" at the same time. For example, on a Mac, you could run a Windows virtual machine and provide Microsoft Outlook, Internet Explorer and Project without having to provide any additional hardware or connectivity.
- Low cost: ~$100 per seat for visualization application, then operating systems and applications are typically already covered under existing site licenses.
- No costly servers or infrastructure needed, so ROI is nearly instantaneous.
- Easy to deploy and manage using a variety of industry-standard management tools.
- No need for internet connection - users stay fully productive 24/7.
- Applications run at near native speeds.
- Flexible subscription licensing means you only pay for what you need to use.
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)
VDI is a way to deploy Windows applications to your Mac users by creating corporate images that live in a datacenter and are delivered over a high-speed connection to the end user when needed.
- Operating Systems and applications sit in the datacenter and are pushed as needed to end users.
- In some cases this can reduce costs and make management easier.
- Can be a good solution for single purpose application environments (call centers, kiosks, etc.)
- The server, infrastructure and services build out needed to support this can quickly run in to thousands of dollars per user. This makes the ROI a long-term prospect, taking up to 4 years to show positive ROI for mid-sized businesses according to Forrester Research.
- Application licensing policies vary, and not all software licenses can be used in a VDI environment, which can lead to having to renegotiate potentially costlier contracts.
- A high-speed connection to your datacenter is required in order to access Windows applications so doesn't work well for mobile workers or laptop users.
Cloud-based application delivery or "Software as a Service" (SaaS)
Cloud-based applications live in a hosted environment and are accessed via a web connection. Applications can be hosted in a "private" cloud owned and managed by your IT department or on a site hosted by a third party.
- Centrally located and managed applications can be available on-demand for users.
- Allows you to provide applications to users on computers with much lower hardware specs because they don't have the full application on their local machine.
- Requires persistent internet connection -- no connection, no productivity.
- License compliance for applications can be difficult to verify, track and report.
- If hosted by a third party, access and security can be difficult to control.