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The demand for Apple devices in the workplace – how can IT respond to BYOD?

The demand for Apple devices in the workplace – how can IT respond to this BYOD?

Apple urged people to "Think Different" more than a decade ago. Today employees in companies of all sizes are following suit. Accepting a company-issued PC was once standard protocol, but many now believe that requesting an Apple device – or the ability to use your own – is their right. With Gartner predicting in its top 10 strategic technology trends for 2014 that BYOD is still ballooning and will double the mobile workforce by 2018, it's clear that the uptake of traditionally consumer products such as notebook computers and tablets will continue to invade the enterprise.

Take the MacBook Air: It's one of the highest-selling notebook computers and is landing in the hands of corporate executives and travel-prone users at an amazing pace. Add to that the latest MacBooks,

iMacs, Mac Pros and iPads and you really get a sense of the mass appeal of Mac computers in what was once the Windows-dominated enterprise.

The new IT reality

IT teams have to quickly adapt to this new reality of rapid, unplanned adoption of completely new platforms while maintaining compliance with security policies, enabling business application compatibility and supporting the mobile workforce. Compounding the challenge for IT, all of this comes at a time when budgets are limited and support staff has been minimised.

For IT to adopt the Mac platform as a viable alternative to the PC/Microsoft mainstay, there are several challenges to overcome. First and foremost, regardless of the hardware, the IT department is responsible for maintaining the safety and security of the corporate network, applications and data. Enterprise IT must govern their domain by balancing support for both internal requirements and external regulations.

Depending on risk management policies, each enterprise will have to determine the best-fit solution for their particular business. Some IT teams may choose to own the hardware and fully manage the Mac environment while others may choose to allow users to bring their own computers to work and steer clear of managing the Apple Mac hardware and Mac OS X operating system. In both cases the IT team will require a solution to provide compatibility for those Windows-only applications needed to run the business.

The power of virtual machines

Independent of your client management strategy, there remains a gap between capability and requirements. Your Mac users need access to protected corporate resources as well as applications that may only run on Windows operating systems. Desktop virtualisation is a technology that has been available for more than a decade and has matured from a technician's toolset to a mainstream everyday application for business users and consumers alike.

Desktop virtualisation is an application that is installed on the target computer. Using a hypervisor to interact with the hardware and host operating system, the desktop virtualisation software creates isolated computing environments known as virtual machines (VMs). Simply put, desktop virtualisation allows a single piece of hardware to run multiple independent "desktops" at the same time. Those desktops can include the host computer desktop as well as one or more desktops based upon alternate operating systems such as Microsoft Windows or Linux.

Since 2006, Parallels desktop virtualisation solutions have been at the forefront of providing cross platform compatibility on the Mac. From the perspective of an end user, Parallels Desktop for Mac enables Windows-only business applications to run side-by-side with Mac OS X applications. Running the Windows-only application is as simple as clicking on an icon on the Dock. Using Parallels Coherence mode, the Windows-only application is blended into the look and feel of the Mac desktop and the user experience is streamlined. Parallels Desktop provides the compatibility required to meet the needs of the Mac user in enterprise simply by deploying the corporate managed desktop as a VM.

The best of both worlds

Technically, Parallels Desktop is what is referred to as a Type 2 hypervisor. This means that Parallels Desktop installs as an application on top of the Mac OS X operating system on each computer. Once installed, Parallels Desktop can create and run new virtual machines. In essence each virtual machine is a stand-alone computer with its own operating system, applications, network settings, hardware settings, etc. You can even think of a VM as a computer running within a computer.

So, desktop virtualisation really can act to provide the best of both worlds in the Enterprise. It means that in the throes of BYOD, employees don't have to choose between one operating system and another, PC or Mac. Plus, the Enterprise can rest assured that everything's above board and managed so as to govern their domain effectively.

Need to run Windows on Mac? Do you need a way to manage Macs and PCs? Need to access files on the go? Find out more about how Parallels Business Solutions can give you the tools necessary to succeed in a mixed Windows and Mac world.