April 24

The Mac Enterprise? Who Cares?
The network should be transparent

The Macintosh Enterprise, saucer section detached, answers a distress beacon from the Neutral Zone. Click image for more valuable information.

by David Nagel
Senior Producer

So Apple announced that it would not be making any major pushes into the enterprise market in the near future, and that seemed to raise the dander of some folk. After all, it's utterly critical to the survival of our platform that both client and server bear the apple brand logo, right? Whatever.

The Mac OS is not an enterprise system—at least not in the sense that I.T. managers think of the enterprise. I could hook up my 10-year-old Macintosh IIci and serve files to a hundred people on the network, and they wouldn't be able to tell the difference between that and a katrillion-dollar system that requires five different certifications just to turn on. What's more, I could do it with a few mouse clicks. That's not really the point, is it?

The Macintosh is geared heavily toward content creation. If you want to do creative work, you want to do it on a Mac. Nevermind that we're lacking a few 3D applications. Nevermind that I could do just about anything on a PC that I can do on a Mac (and vice versa, of course). The Mac is the platform for content. This perception—and this perception alone—kept the platform alive during those dark years of the inter regnum at Apple. It's what's bringing it back now as digital video comes to the desktop (plus an actual advertising effort to let people know that such a thing as a Macintosh exists, something Steve Jobs's predecessors never thought was terribly important.) Even though I know I could do all of my work on a Windows system, it doesn't feel right because I'm not doing it on my official content-creation computer.

In this respect—and very few others—I can sympathize with I.T. managers. If their tool of choice is transparent on my end, why should I care? Novell, NT, Linux, OS X—what's the difference? We get our machines of choice; they get theirs. Whenever we try to cross these lines, bad things happen. I remember at my last publishing job when the I.T. department decided everybody should standardize (the battle cry of the incompetent) on Windows NT systems—this at a time when you couldn't run ATM and QuarkXPress together on NT. Brilliant plan! They almost got away with it too, having converted several of our magazines over. I look at the enterprise the same way. Why should we tell I.T. managers how to run a network when it really has no impact on how we do our jobs? On our end, we see a volume, and we mount it. We open our Web browser, and we reach the Internet. A Mac server is no better or worse at this than any other server.

"What about Linux, Dave?"

Shut up.

Apple's break into the enterprise market will require a lot of time and a lot of kickbacks—not to mention a legitimate evaluation program. The instructors at adult education schools need to be convinced. Apple certification would have to be ramped up. Curricula would have to be changed at universities. H.R. managers would have to be convinced that "Apple certified" is just as good as "Novell certified" on an I.T. applicant's resume. Hoping for all of this—and a lot more—to change in a short period of time is foolishness.

A network should be transparent, and we should be happy Apple remains focused on the workstation and continues to deliver the best creative tool on the market.

Post a message in the Creative Mac World Wide User Group.

Dave Nagel is the still somewhat new Senior Producer of Creative Mac. An eight-year veteran of the print publishing world, Nagel covered a broad range of topics in the areas of technology and marketing. As a Mac psychofanatic since 1987, he's finally landed his dream job: earning a living writing about his favorite topic. If you have something to say, please send a polite e-mail to [email protected]. (Let's not try to bring him down from his euphoria too soon.)

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