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Apple Apple in the workplace?

Discussion in 'Software' started by OneSeventeen, 1 Feb 2007.

  1. OneSeventeen

    OneSeventeen Oooh Shiny!

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    I'm an IT Admin now, and I'm getting ready to start replacing all of our computers. Being fairly open minded I looked into both Dell and Apple. (Sorry, Linux just isn't ready for end users or network admins that support end users.)

    With Dell I can get an average machine for about $700 that includes keyboard, mouse, and monitor. (1GB of RAM, 80GB SATA HDD, but an old P4 3GHz.. no dual core here :( but I could probably upgrade to core2duo for about $150)

    I can also get a dell server with over 1TB of usable RAID 5 with a hot spare as a rackmount server with hot-swappable drives.

    Also, all of the PCs come with a 3 year on-site warranty (if a part goes bad they come here and replace the part the next day.) which is included in the $700 fee.

    I don't know enough about XServes, but when I tried to configure one similar to the Dell (with equivalent hardware warranty/replacement parts) it would cost me closer to $7,000 and wouldn't be true RAID 5, nor would it have a Hot Spare.

    So I'm wondering if there is a way to have similar performance, features, and reliability with Apple servers and desktops as I can have with Dell products without being near twice the price?

    (Keeping in mind if I were in the market for a new computer I'd be getting a MacBook. I prefer Apple by far for my own use, but working for a not-for-profit makes it hard to justify ever recommending Apple in the workplace.)

    Any tips? Am I missing something?
     
  2. Firehed

    Firehed Why not? I own a domain to match.

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    From my understanding, the Xserve is a rather strange bit of kit, really more enterprise-level and probably above what you'd need at an NPO (could be wrong, I have no idea how big the place is, or what your needs are). However, I think the general recommendation would be to avoid Apple server parts unless you have a specific need, as they do tend to be quite a bit more expensive for what you're getting. Consider - the base Xserve is a quad-core machine, which is almost certainly going to be massive overkill for fileserver-type work.

    That said, I don't know a whole lot about the enterprise-level servers in general, which is what you should be comparing an Xserve to. If you really just need a fileserver machine for NAS-type work, I think you could just get a Mac Pro with 4x750GB drives, and you should be able to configure it for RAID5 w/ hot spare. Don't quote me on that, though. I think you'd need one regardless if you get an Xserve, since they're (to my understanding) fibre-channel machines that need something with a fibre channel card to be able to actually share stuff with the rest of the network.

    I mean, long story short, it doesn't really matter what brand server you buy. It's all networked and whatnot, so it should all play pretty nice. You can use Apple desktops and a Dell server without any issue AFAIK. So, if the Dell is significantly cheaper, go for it. Although I have no idea if Dell has outsourced all of their business-level support like they have with home products; Apple hasn't, so you may want to keep that in mind as well.

    As for desktops... well, the iMac would certainly be a nice choice, if it works pricewise. Consider user-support cost as well as actual hardware support. While I don't know the specifics of what you're doing, I think that OS X will be a lot easier to support on the user side than Windows will be, and may make up for the price difference. Plus, Macs tend to last quite a while longer than Windows machines do as far as obsolescence - you can run the latest 10.4.8 on an old 400Mhz G3 iBook, whereas XP would be pretty much painfully useless on an equivalent x86-spec machine.
     
  3. h_2_o

    h_2_o New Member

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    the short answer is if you want mac in your office you pay more plain and simple.
     
  4. Fod

    Fod what is the cheesecake?

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    unless you're operating some kinda front line operation exposed to customers and want to give a trendy good impression, stick with Dell. they simply make more sense from a business perspective - licensing models from MS for businesses are better, and you don't have to spend time retraining staff.
     
  5. Gordy

    Gordy Evil Teddy

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    I think over time that you would be proved wrong in that thinking. Macs need far less maintenance than a comparable windows pc.

    Also machine to machine of the same specs, the prices are very close, dell tend to be only cheaper for the really bog standard machines, which will struggle with vista for sure.
     
  6. OneSeventeen

    OneSeventeen Oooh Shiny!

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    Thanks for the tips, I just wanted to see if there might be a long-term benefit. It looks like we'll be sticking with Dell servers, and will consider Apple desktops as we go. I would want to find some sort of apple method of doing email if we went that route though, because Microsoft Office for the Mac does not support browsing the Exchange Public Folders (as far as I can tell, anyway), which is a big deal. :(

    In line with the upgradablitiy, we have a Powermac G3 which meets the requirements on the box of OSX Tiger, but apparently there were two lines of PowerMac G3's, one in the beige case, one in the shiny case. The Beige case (which we had) would not run OSX Tiger. Boo to Apple for not making this clear on the package. (It was clear on their website once I learned that Powermac G3 != Powermac G3.)

    Fortunately this was a great reason to buy the office a Mac Mini and use the OSX Tiger copy for an older Mac Mini running OSX Bobcat (or whatever 10.3 was... totally joking, I know it wasn't bobcat, but "kitten" didn't sound as menacing)

    Looks like we'll just do some analysis on what software we are using, what Apple software we could be using (that would be covered under Apple support), and how much we spend on Software support currently before making a decision.

    Thanks for the tips guys.
     
  7. Gordy

    Gordy Evil Teddy

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    To be fair to apple the mere fact that a g3 which was released in January 1999 can run SO tiger is amazing. My sisters 5 year old g4 runs os x tiger perfectly. I can't see a similar aged pc running vista anytime soon :D

    Have to agree with you complaint about not seeing the difference between the products. Apple's naming scheme doesn't make it easy to differentiate between different models quickly :(
     
  8. Hamish

    Hamish New Member

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    2 words: Active Directory :p :D
     
  9. OneSeventeen

    OneSeventeen Oooh Shiny!

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    I'm not sure what the 2 words are supposed to mean.

    Is that a jab at Apple for not having something similar, or advice on just adding the apple users to the Active Directory domain?

    Now, to be fair about PCs running new OSes on old hardware, we have at least 4 users here running pentium II's from 1999 using Windows XP Professional. I could also run the latest linux kernel on that box as well.

    Vista appears to require hardware that was released between December 1999 and May 2000. (the Pentium III "Coppermine" core 800MHz) And I'll bet that cost a lot less then than the powermac G3 cost back then as well.

    So, Operating System upgradability isn't exclusive to Apple computers.

    I think the real benefit to Apple computers is they fold hardware and software into a cool origami bird that can flap its wings if you tug on them right, and Windows-based computers are forced to support so much hardware that the hardware and software gets balled up into a knot of christmas lights that you reluctantly try to untangle at least once a year.

    (I am still pro-Apple, but the whole "going in for surgery" to meet Vista requirements is a little silly unless you take into consideration that the commercials are comparing a young apple with an old pc.)

    Hope I don't sound rude, I just want to make sure we're all still thinking without too much of a bias here.

    Is there something like Active Directory for Apple users? (Where I can manage users, groups, email accounts, file permissions, and deploy applications across the network? Not to mention shared calendars and contacts?)
     
  10. Gordy

    Gordy Evil Teddy

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    Now try actually running vista on the hardware ms states it can run on :D

    I've clients running xp on pentium 2's and its terrible. It takes ages to do anything on them.
     
  11. Soulfly22583

    Soulfly22583 New Member

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    Based very loosely on my experience at a broadcast television station - I totally agree with Firehed. We purchased 3 Xserve's and the only purpose for them was solely video editing. Spent damn near $15,000 on all the equipment and set-up with the apple reps.

    Just thought id throw in my .02... hope it helps a bit =)
     
  12. h_2_o

    h_2_o New Member

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    I'm not sure where you are finding the numbers of machines being similar costs. dell's with similar setup's from my last few orders are 25% to 50% cheaper on average and that is not including monitors. once you start putting up apple flat screens on desks you in some cases are talking about a savings of between 60% and 70%.

    as for not needing to be upgraded as much. well that one can be explained away very easily too. it used to be (before the intel apple) that upgrading was near impossible, to upgrade you replaced and that was not cost affective. now you can do small upgrades but they will be similar to a pc's. However considering that pc's still cost soo much less you are still stuck with the initial investment where with a pc you can probably just replace it with a new one and not have to worry about the cost of a memory upgrade.

    as for other costs, you have to think about available tech/hardware support in your area. the cost of that support. downtime for apple's for repair over pc's. Both have downtimes so don't give me this BS that apples never fail either, i deal with them too much and it is the same as a wintel box. Software solutions or is there a software solution that will work for your environment. training of people to get them working on the new software they will be using. Point of this is that there is a zillion other little things people donut think about when they want to go apple. normally they are just sooo zealous about going a different route they forget that there is more money to be invested than just hardware.

    again in the workplace apply will cost more, if you truly believe otherwise you are fooling yourself.
     
  13. Gordy

    Gordy Evil Teddy

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    There have been plenty of long term studies that support the apple is cheaper side of things. You have to take into account things like virus protection and removal of things like spyware and viruses from the pcs.

    Oh and you don't need to buy the apple monitors, particularly for the cheaper models it silly :)
     
  14. OneSeventeen

    OneSeventeen Oooh Shiny!

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    Gordy, so far our antivirus costs are not really that high, maybe $50 per computer if that much, and considering an apple costs way more than $50 more than a PC, it really isn't an argument.

    Web based spyware in general is usually inthe form of malicious cookies and browser plugins. Unless there is something dramatically different between Firefox for windows and Firefox for OSX I don't see the benefit to using Apple.

    I would love to see a few of these long term studies though, because I'd rather plan for the future, not just this year. In the short term, Apples appear to be far more expensive (even if they give you a better computer, does that really matter? That's like saying you should buy a wide-screen plasma because you can get a better deal than the 20" CRT you went in to buy that meets your needs).

    I honestly would like to see some case studies if anybody's gone them. We just got an apple store in town so support may be a bit easier. Dell has quite a few guys in town as well and I've never had to wait more than 24 hours to have a part replaced.

    I'm thinking mac mini's with apple-care will be only $100 more than an equivalent Dell (with the same processor and ram, of course the Dell has a faster hard drive and if you call dell they'll usually knock a few hundred off the cost of each PC) so maybe I'll price out buying a ton of those as well to see if my employer might want to go down the Apple route. My boss has a personal Powerbook G4 and his boss has a Mac Book Pro, so they aren't anti-apple, so we'll see.

    Now that I know they have some awesome networking tools (Their Open Directory or whatever it's called), I just need to see what it will cost to replace Outlook with Apple Mail (including server hardware/software and features.)

    So please let me know of case studies, and if anyone knows how to do corporate Mail/Calendar on Apples I'd really be interested to hear what our options are.
     
  15. Gordy

    Gordy Evil Teddy

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    Hi, I'm not talking about just buying the software for virus protection but the cost of the admin and staff too.

    Here are a couple of links on the Total cost of Ownership for the two platforms, I can't find the one I was thinking of specifically, but these may be some help to you.

    http://www.networkworld.com/best/2006/022706bestbreaker-schwartau.html
    http://138.202.192.14/~trembath/smon/tco.html

    I think if you were buying enough apple would discount similiarly to dell. Depends on numbers.

    On the email front OS X server has a built in mail server functionality (As do all macs)

    Info here: http://www.apple.com/uk/server/macosx/mailservices.html

    Not sure on the calender front though.
    http://www.apple.com/macosx/features/ical/ there is a bit there about sharing , but I've not done it myself.

    Hope that helps :)
     
  16. OneSeventeen

    OneSeventeen Oooh Shiny!

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    Gordy, thanks for the links, I'll start looking through those articles and post back here.

    I like some of the network infrastructure features OSX has out of the box, but then again I also like some of the features Windows has as well. (I find it cool that I can have a screen up that shows all the error messages everyone on my network is getting. I can also see what they were doing before and after it happened.)

    Oh, and TCO is a little different when you live on a budget. I am the only IT guy and I get paid help-desk wages, so our TCO is the cost of the machines plus my salary, which is still less than if we switched to all apples.

    I guess it is hard for me because I think some of those reports compare an untrained PC tech with a highly trained Mac tech. Almost 75% of last week was spent troubleshooting Apple computers. 25% was spent on Windows-based PCs. We have 9 times more PCs than Apples. Primarily because while the Apple "Just works" in the home, they become just like any other PC when you try to configure them far from the default.
     
  17. Jamie

    Jamie ex-Bit-Tech code junkie

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    Erm, it does.
     
  18. Seth

    Seth New Member

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    hehe it sure does.
     
  19. OneSeventeen

    OneSeventeen Oooh Shiny!

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    Oops, I meant "quickly and easily" browsing the public folders, as well as posting new emails, contacts, calendars, and calendar events to the public folders.

    In Outlook I can just expand them as quickly and easily as though they were local folders, and I can use them the same as well. (meaning I can add a new calendar under a public folder, then post new events to that calendar)

    I have not found out how to easily read and write to public folders without waiting forever for the list to load then subscribing to the folder. (Now I could easily be wrong since I only get to "borrow" apples for a day at a time max usually just a few minutes.)
     
  20. xrs444

    xrs444 New Member

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    If you're already running Active Directory, you'll learn to hate Macs very quickly. They can be right pigs to get connected nicely sometimes, and still kick up an error every now and again.

    Coupled with the way they won't authenticate properly to AD manged printers and don't do SMB signing you can pull your hair out at times.
     
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