IBM Division Investigates Corporate Mac Migration Feasibility

IBM's Research Information Services division is investigating the possibility of moving a significant number of employees to Apple's Macintosh platform according to a report acquired by RoughlyDrafted.

In line with IBMs external strategy of offering a true Open Client that may be Windows, Linux or a Mac, the document noted, [Research Information Services] is focusing on providing an IBM application stack on multiple Operating Systems, rather than be confined to one or the other.

The first phase of the pilot program was conducted between October 2007 and January 2008. During this phase, 24 MacBook Pros were distributed to researchers and used as the primary notebook, with the employees' existing ThinkPads acting as backups if needed.

Of the 22 of 24 who responded, 18 said that the Mac offered a better or best experience compared to their existing computer, one rated it equal or good, and three said the Mac offered a worse experience. Seven reported having no or marginal prior knowledge of using Macs, while 15 reported having moderate or expert knowledge of the platform.

Other highlights:
- 86% of pilot users requested to keep the Mac
- More new hires are requesting Macs
- Research and Academic clients have a growing Mac community
- IBM internal software made for Mac was easy to install
- Some key software was unavailable for Mac, including DB2 and Websphere Application Server, Rational Application Developer IDE for J2EE apps, WebSphere Integration Developer SOA development tool, and Microsoft Visio.

Some Comments:
- "When presenting at customer or external meetings, I have been greeted with the 'wow factor.' 'Where's the ThinkPad, IBM uses Apples now?'"
- "This can free us from the Windows stranglehold."
- "It has been easier learning the Mac than learning Vista."
- "The ability to run Windows XP in a VM under Parallels is a great feature."

An expansion of the pilot is planned for 2008, supporting up to 100 users by the end of the year. As a grain of salt, IBM has been heavily invested in Linux and the pilot is likely to simply fall in line with efforts to break reliance on Microsoft Windows. That being said, the company has been re-invigorating efforts to develop Mac software, including versions of the company's Lotus Notes client for iPhone and Lotus Symphony.

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