Will Apple enter the enterprise?

MacBook Air.The big news yesterday was all about the Ultra Thin Apple MacBook Air. Intel joined in the party by talking about their low powered chips in the device ( although that was the only party they had yesterday ). This got me thinking..... is Apple now ready to penetrate the enterprise with Leopard?

I am not that passionate about the Leopard OS (I guess it takes all kinds), but they are moving pretty quickly to fix a lot of the problems that they had when they released it. They certainly did not have the same driver issues that faced Vista, but from my point of view, it has taken way too long to get some of the early issues in Vista fixed. Vista SP1 is pretty close to shipping, with some major improvements, but ....

From the Apple perspective, the MacBook Air is tiny, at around 3 pounds, really thin, has a standard  keyboard and a decent sized display. With all the desire from the consumer market, the reduction in device costs based on Intel technology, is Apple finally a contender?

Apple support from the enterprise seems to come down to two key points. 1 - can they give ITPROs the control they need of their employees desktop devices. 2 - What is the quality of the applications and infrastructure?

Once you answer these points, things start to change. There are some things that could help Apple, such as support for Active Directory which is now possible on Linux and Macs, but there is still not the same level of user lock-down support which is demanded by many companies. In comparison, Vista has added a lot of extended support for Group Policy. In the apps area, there are many great applications for Leopard, but they do not offer the same level of client / server/ services that people in the enterprise can get on Windows today.

So while this is an interesting thought and some organizations will give purchasing rights to their employees to go out and buy MacBook Air devices, the lack of enterprise class applications will hinder their productivity and serviceability. Secondly, many of the enterprise applications we use today, including Office are not as impactful without being connected to backend services such as Sharepoint, project server, etc, etc. Apple would need to significantly improve such applications.

Only time will tell, and certainly the quality of Vista SP1 will have an impact on the decision.

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