Learning about a missed opportunity
Be exhaustive and Eloquent in show choices

Off to look at another Unix

Sooner or later, the community's experts say, your computing will be done on a system other than an HP 3000. More to the point, your applications — whether you replace them, migrate code, or dream up another alternative — will run on an environment other than MPE/iX and IMAGE.

Your time to migrate may not have come. It might never arrive while you're in charge of IT at your company. But when the movement comes, why not choose Unix?

And if you're choosing Unix, why not choose OS X, and the Macintosh?

I mean to get more information to that question, so I'm heading off to San Francisco today for the 2008 MacWorld conference. No, I'm not standing on line at 5AM to hear Steve Jobs talk about his latest movie download service or phone feature. Jobs is a powerful speaker, and Apple is quite the visionary about Thinking Different. But the Black Turtleneck talk is more sport than business.

But since we spend a good slice of our time these days thinking about business on Unix here in the 3000 community, why discriminate? Apple may not practice all that it should yet to pursue IT enterprise business. But neither did HP when the 3000 market changed in the 1990s, and suddenly Unix and Windows were right alongside the proven MPE/iX environments. HP had to evolve the 3000 message.

The OS X environment now has VMWare selling a virtualization solution. You can hardly swing a dead mouse at an HP Windows talk without hearing about the vendor's close partnership with VMWare. An enterprise server-based virtualization solution for OS X Server is on the horizon, too.

Wednesday kicks off a two-day Mac IT conference within this week's MacWorld, a conference that's like the old Interex conferences of the 1990s: A solitary gathering point for the user and management community of OS X. Developers get their own once-a-year show in summer, sort of like the IPROF meetings of the old 3000 days.

I expect Mac IT users to have the same needs they had last year — namely, Apple needs to beef up its support for enterprise customers. This has a familiar ring too, if you attended the HP Management Roundtable events from the Interex days.

The OS X advantage is that this OS X experience won't be assaulted by open source, or balloon into paying the Windows upgrading price. OS X is an environment known for a low level of maintenance and long lifespan of utility.

I've heard about the health and medical community's solutions and prospects for using OS X as a solution. There's even an Amisys user out there in the 3000 community right now which is considering OS X as the right Unix to migrate toward. Even through Amisys Advance isn't supported on Macs.

But small business solutions are out there for the 3000 user who's headed off the platform. Just as one example, MacPractice is a leading Mac developer in healthcare, with 2,000 doctor’s offices representing 14,000 Mac users. At the show they'll demonstrate new features including integrated EMR, and medical and dental imaging.

Now 14,000 might not be a number to impress the 3000 site moving to Windows. But a focused application like medical practice management probably doesn't have a single vendor servicing, oh, more than twice as many offices, even on Windows. And the apps are the life of the computing customer. The environment is often secondary.

Analysts say that Apple could do more for the enterprise customer. And given that Apple is flush with cash, and seen its stock rise to the point that the company has a market cap bigger than HP's, Apple has the money to invest.

For a look at the state of today's Mac IT enterprise prospects, read this report from Information Week. (Not exactly a publication known for being Mac rabid.) Don't forget to check out the clear-eyed and realistic comparison review of Vista and Leopard, the two desktop choices du jour.

If you must think different about your company's IT future, you might as well reach for more than different. Maybe better and different.