Monday, March 26, 2007

Of Fruits and Vegetables

For several months, my VP and I have been having somewhat informal, tongue-in-cheek discussions about adoption of Mac systems. We've been so frustrated by Dell (in the past), and now IBM, in addition to being faced with an avalanche named Windows Vista, that we're ready to look at any alternative.

I'd evaluated SLED 10 from Novell late last year, and found it to be somewhat half-baked. I had to re-install GroupWise twice, and rebuild the entire system three times in the span of about a month. Simple stuff like dual-monitor support and switching wireless networks from work to home were exceptionally cumbersome on my IBM T43p eval system. I gave up and went back to Windows XP on my now two-year-old T42p.

So, the frustration had been mounting again, and I offered that I could get a MacBook Pro to evaluate from Apple's refurb store for relatively cheap. My VP wasn't at all hesitant to OK the endeavor. And so now, here I am, updating this Blog on a shiny new-to-me 17" Glossy MacBook Pro. 2GB of RAM, 8x SuperDrive, AirPort Extreme wireless, 160GB HD, 2.33GHz Core 2 Duo processor, etc.

I can sum up my impression of the MacBook I've been using for the past month in one word. Unbelievable. This is EXACTLY how technology is supposed to work. Call Steve Jobs whatever you want, the end result is the most evolved, refined, performant, and impeccably crafted work of functional art ever to communicate on a LAN. EVERYTHING about it is art. EVERYTHING about it's interface and operation is frighteningly simplified. It's as if Apple has been studying human behavior for the past 20 years, and developed an OS interface that plugs directly in to your psyche.

The challenge isn't in learning how to use it, the challenge is in learning how to break it. The shackles we bear from years of Windows use are tough to shed, but the feeling is very rewarding when you eventually do something you'd have thought wasn't possible. This is what drag-and-drop is supposed to be. This is what plug-and-play is supposed to be. This is what a computer is supposed to look and act like. Forget everything else you've been using - I've used them all, too, and I'm here today to tell you this: they're all toys.

Sadly, the vegetables in this story are the vendors in the enterprise management space. I know far too little about how to manage Apple equipment. Perhaps I'm well ahead of the curve for the first time since beta-testing ZEN 1.0...but I don't think I should be. OS X is a mature operating system, not some garage-based skunkworks project. The mystery to me is that vendors like Novell, etc. haven't woken up to the fact that they build the eggs from which these chickens will hatch. Apple won't find mainstream adoption in heterogeneous environments based on the state of our industry today. That can only mean two things...1) a lifetime of a Microsoft-based, super-homogenous, mind-numbing, unrewarding IT as a whipping-post approach to IT, or 2) a lifetime of an Apple-based, equally homogenous, mind-numbing, smash a square peg into a round hole approach to IT. Neither is very attractive.

Here's hoping the fruits can influence some of the vegetables to grow some seeds.

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