Let me start out by saying that I am not an Apple fan boy. I am not a Microsoft zealot or a Linux aficionado. I use them all daily; it is all about usability to me.
I wanted to talk about the shift I have seen in technology that we use in business every day. This transformation has been just as large and disruptive as virtualization. 10 years ago, the end user hardware and software was set and had very little diversity or customization. It was Win/Tel (Windows running on Intel processors) all the way with Microsoft Office. There was very little or no working from home, and you had to be in the office or have a VPN to the office to do your work.
Fast forward to today and the end user client and software environment has a lot more options. The other architects and I have daily conversations about thin clients, zero clients, iPads, iPhones, Android phones, VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructures) so workers can work from anywhere. I am also seeing many more Apple Macintosh’s in business environments. Exchange is moving into the cloud as in storage, social networks and many companies we work with consider Instant Massaging as a key business application.
You can blame Apple and the usability of the iPad and iPhone, Samsung and other Android tablet and phone manufacturers or the continued advances in technology, but you cannot deny that providing applications and data to end users is not just Windows, Office and a desktop anymore.
I had an interesting personal experience with this recently. I have been a Windows user for most of my life. I do have an iPad and have been using that more and more. I needed a new personal laptop and after much soul searching and justifying the additional cost, I purchased a MacBook Pro. It took me years to talk myself into paying more money for essentially the same hardware. Well, I am very happy that I did. I find the Mac has almost all of the applications that I use, and I have VMware Fusion for any Windows applications that are not supported. I really enjoy using the Mac more and find it much more usable than the Windows laptop I use for work. Gestures and the awesome usability of the mousepad (trackpad) make this my personal choice of hardware going forward.
The bottom line is that today’s IT department has many more choices in how to deliver applications and data to their end users. This can be a management nightmare, if not planned correctly, but does offer end users many more options to stay connected and do the work they need to anyplace, anytime, and on (almost) any device.