Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Migration Continues

This time I'll write a bit about the geek part of my Blogger profile. Long story short: prior to my current gig, I used to work at a terrific little IT consultancy called Claero Systems. At the time I joined Claero, their offices were located on the second floor above a high-end ski shop, in a former architect's loft. In addition to the cool digs, we had comfy couches, track lighting, a fridge, a wine rack, and a billiard table. Great people to work with, a varied and interesting clientele (wine importers, interior designers, creative studios, a photographer, a boutique engineering firm, a furniture wholesaler, a restaurateur, a gourmet travel consultant, real estate developers, a mountaineer who had scaled Everest, a staffing firm, a motion picture editor, even a manufacturer of drink coasters, photo mounts, and wine labels). We provided IT management consulting and solutions, including custom web applications. All in all, a nice little portfolio.

At Claero, we used a range of technologies: Windows Small Business Server 2003, MacOS X Server, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, OpenBSD, Cisco PIX firewalls, and so on. Hardware was a mix of IBM, Apple, Dell, and HP — similar to what our clients used. Portables were a mix of IBM ThinkPad and Apple PowerBook and MacBook Pro models. One of our senior PHP developers left on good terms to join iStockPhoto just before they were bought by Getty Images. At Claero, we had a monthly staff event to help build the team — each time, we tried something different: indoor rock climbing, river rafting, curling, bowling, go-karting, and so on. As you may have guessed, this was one of the most enjoyable aspects of my time there. We also spent quite a bit of time and effort brainstorming on how to market the company better. All issues were fair game for open discussion: branding, trade show participation, proposal writing, using wikis for collaboration, client relationship management, etc.

While at Claero (a little over 3 years), I noticed clients expressing interest in MacOS X as an alternative to Windows, especially since they could see me administering Windows servers and networks using Remote Desktop Connection from an Apple portable. Now that I'm no longer there, it seems that more and more people I meet are considering the switch, as well.

Obviously, I'm hardly the only one who's noticed increasing numbers of Windows users are switching to MacOS X. The blog community seems to be piling on with commentary, analyses, and prognostications: how Vista sales are not meeting expectations, how increasing numbers of tech luminaries are migrating to MacOS X, and how people are getting fed up with malware on their Windows PCs. I do think the iPod halo effect is real: once people experience the iPod's elegance and ease of use, they're more inclined to investigate whether Apple computers evince the same sterling qualities. Hint: they do.

Scott Lowe writes:
Now, though, we are seeing the Windows die-hards switching platforms. This isn’t simply moving from one UNIX-like platform to a different UNIX-like platform. Mac OS X is nothing like Windows, and switching from one platform to another is a pretty significant effort. Clearly, there must be a reason why these long-time Windows users are switching. These aren’t your average Windows users—these are Windows power users, users who have championed the Windows platform for years. Now they’re switching to the Mac.
Hmm. I'm not sure if, like me, he's just going by anecdotal evidence, but I don't think so. For example, a blogger from inside IBM recently wrote:
Don't let anyone tell you that the OS 10 and XP are the same. I did more exploring with my Mac in the first weekend than I did with my Windows boxes over the past 8 years. Ya gotta have a Windows box; you want to have a Mac. As our team is tasked to explore the suitability of Web 2.0 technologies to our enterprise customers - what can we learn from the success of YouTube, MySpace, 2nd Life etc - I feel that using the Windows OS constrains one's thinking about Web 2.0 because you have to do it the Windows way, like it or not. With a Mac, I have a sense, real or imagined, that on my MacBook, I'm doing it my way or creating my own web experience with this tool. This is the way that it should be.

Like many, I was drawn back to the Mac by my family's thrills with their iPods (original, Nano, and Video). What if our customers could deliver on their sites a web-based experience like shopping on the iTunes store: fast, easy to navigate, inclusive, friendly, simple to buy, know who you are.

What put my Mac purchase in automatic was the recent IBM announcement to support Linux and Macs. This plus the incredible Mac community within IBM...
Hmm. Would that be similar to the Mac community inside Google?

In the meantime, the bile uttered against Windows seems to have no letup:
Windows is the platform on which 90 per cent of the computing industry builds, and this naturally means that it's the platform on which 90 per cent of spyware, adware, virus, worm, and Trojan developers build. That translates into 90 per cent of botnet zombies, 90 per cent of spam relays, 90 per cent of spyware hosts, and 90 per cent of worm propagators. In a nutshell, Windows is single-handedly responsible for turning the internet into the toxic shithole of malware that it is today.

That's not going to change any time soon, no matter how good Vista's security might be, but a version of Windows with truly adequate security and privacy features would certainly be a step in the right direction.
It would be a step in the right direction — except that accepting Vista's security also means accepting its draconian and user-hostile Digital Rights Management features (as per Bruce Schneier's analysis, see below).

There's even a compelling business case for migrating to open-source software, as Novell has done, and reaping millions of dollars in annual savings.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to many, Apple itself is increasingly adopting the open-source model in its commercial software offerings, even on the server end of things. And Apple's Safari web browser is even taking market share away from Firefox, if this data is to be believed. Safari now accounts for 6.2% of all web browsers, up from 5.7% in December 2006. Hmm.

It's all good.
Post a Comment