Eight Financial Reasons Why You Should Use Mac OS

Mac OS is the hands-down operating system winner, from the perspective of cost effectiveness.

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"If you consider a Mac and a low-end [Windows] PC, the Mac will carry a higher price tag. But let's not compare a Lexus with a Hyundai," Gartenberg says.

A couple of years back, Tayco, one of the world's largest makers of office furniture, reached similar conclusions upon first pricing Mac servers for use on its network.

"The initial hardware costs were pretty much the same as for Windows PCs. But Macintosh has turned out to be much more cost-effective, due partly to its scalability," according to Przemek (pronounced "Chemek") Wozniak, IT manager of the Toronto, Ontario-based manufacturing firm.

Tayco is currently running three Apple X servers, 15 Windows servers and two IBM iSeries midrange computers on its back-end infrastructure. Meanwhile, all but 15 of the company's desktop PCs are running Windows.

Ultimately, though, the IT manager eyes replacing most of the remaining Windows servers and all of the desktops with Macs. He's also considering swapping out the two iSeries, which are running Lotus Notes mail and calendaring applications,with Apple's upcoming OS X version 10.5—code-named "Leopard"—which is slated to come with its own open-source versions.

Much of Tayco's reason for switching to Macs boils down to hardware costs. New IBM iSeries servers go for $100,000 and up, according to Wozniak. He also finds IBM PC servers consume more space in the data center than Xserves, while adding extra costs for rack hardware. "You can only fit 10 of them in one rack, versus 42 in a rack for Xserves," he adds.

Macintosh licensing fees are cheaper

On the strictly OS side, Wozniak cites scalability of a different kind. "With one Xserve license, you can support unlimited numbers of users," the IT manager notes. In contrast, Microsoft's client access licenses (CALs) for Windows servers impose extra costs based on number of clients. As a result, customers can save money by deploying Mac servers to support both Mac and Windows, suggests Mike Silver, VP of research in the Gartner Group's Client Computing Group.

But meanwhile, many other businesses have either already implemented Mac-only deployments or are moving in that direction. Beyond customers with mixed OS architectures, VSM.net, a Web design and IT outsourcing firm in Neptune, Fla., services several companies that have gone 100 percent Macintosh.

After using VSM.net to host its website and e-mail system for several years, The Powerhouse Group, an event production company, hired the outsourcer to implement a Mac-based WAN across all three locations of the agency, according to Rene Garcia, a network manager at VSM.net. The new Mac gear includes Mac servers, iMacs, and Mac laptops for salespeople.

"We're seeing a lot of that right now. People are running away from Windows because there are more choices," says Garcia.

"Linux first paved the way for choice. But personally, I prefer [doing systems administration] with the Mac OS. The various distributions of Linux—Novell SUSE, Ubuntu, Red Hat—are all the same in a way, but yet they're different, because [administrative functions] can be located in different places."

The Mac desktop spawns fewer calls to the help desk

Mac desktop software has always been known for its ease of use, and rightfully so. "Even little children are able to use Macs. A kid can open up 'Johnny's folder,' and there are Johnny's little docs and applications," says Roger Kay, president of market intelligence firm Endpoint Technologies.

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