Sidebar: The traditional alternative

Von Stefan Hammond

Although Apple"s obsessively popular iPod music-player hogs the headlines, the firm"s Macintosh computer line has been handling corporate data for over two decades. Apple makes everything from laptops to rack-mountable servers and SANs, and has received industry plaudits for its OS X operating system.

?Mac OS X is built on an industry-strength UNIX foundation to ensure that your computing experience remains free of system crashes and compromised security,? said Tony Li, Apple?s director of product marketing for Asia-Pacific.

What"s it like to be a Mac user in an enterprise IT environment? "Primarily I am a Windows XP user since my firm has standardized on Windows, Exchange and Office," said Hong Kong-based Michael Smith, director of developer relations for BEA. Smith added that he is "not a "religious" person when it comes to technology, but I like to use what I consider to be the best hardware/software combination."

"With Windows," said Smith, "I always feel like I am dealing with an organism that does not like to do what I want it to do, degrades over time without my permission and generally works harder at getting in the way of what I want to do rather than make what I want to do as simple as possible." Smith feels that the OS X-powered laptop he carries allows him to be more productive and time-efficient because "rather than fighting the machine, configurations and software, you just use it." This view is echoed by US Computerworld journalist Dan Gillmor, who wrote: "My Windows computer tends to get in my way when I use it. My Mac tends to get out of the way."

As a Mac user in an enterprise environment, Smith appreciates what he sees as improvements to OS X. "Apple continues to build more functionality directly into the OS that allows direct access to Windows file servers, he said, adding that this functionality previously required the purchase of third-party software."

"I work for a company that specializes in Java-based software and in the past with the Mac this was problematic unless you were a really good Mac/Java hacker," explained Smith. " But now Apple, Sun and the various companies involved with Java have begun to treat OS X like a first class citizen when it comes to Java developers using Apple." The BEA developer added that attendees of "any Java or Internet affiliated trade show will see an inordinate amount of iBooks, iPods and Airport Expresses. I think this trend will continue."