Nearly 80 percent of businesses have Macs in-house, nearly double the number that said they had users running Mac OS X two years ago, a research firm said Thursday.
"Then we were talking about onesies and twosies," said Laura DiDio, a Yankee Group research fellow who conducted a survey of over 700 senior IT administrators and C-level executives. "Now the number of actual users is very significant. A number of the businesses said that they had 50 or 100 or even several thousand Macs deployed."
In early 2006, when DiDio last polled corporate IT professionals on Mac deployment, 47 percent said that they had Apple hardware in their environments.
DiDio was impressed with the growth of Macs in business considering that Apple Inc. itself has put little to no official effort into that part of the market. "This isn't a tidal wave, but it's certainly a sustained trend," she said. "Apple has a beachhead in business. Where it once had just 1-2 percent market share in corporate, now they're up to 8-10 percent," DiDio added.
Twenty-one percent of the firms surveyed reported they had deployed more than 50 Macs. "This isn't mickey mouse, it's not just onesies and twosies anymore," DiDio said. "Apple's graduated into the big league."
Among the reasons businesses cited to explain why they've taken to Macs, the most surprising was the ability to virtualize other operating systems, primarily Microsoft's Windows, on Mac hardware. "That's clearly spurring some businesses," DiDio said. "A number of the respondents said, 'Oh, guess what, we're using the Mac to load Vista or XP on there and using Mac hardware."
More than a quarter of the firms surveyed -- 28 percent -- said that they are running Windows in a virtual machine on the Macs they have. Slightly fewer, 22 percent, confirmed that their Macs are set up to boot either Windows or Mac OS X using the latter's built-in dual-boot utility, Boot Camp.
DiDio called out virtualization software from Seattle-based Parallels and Palo Alto, Calif.-based VMware Inc. as the tools enterprises are using to run non-Apple operating systems on Mac hardware. IT professionals noted that the reliability of Apple's hardware was a factor in shifting to Macs. Almost eight out of 10 of the people surveyed rated Mac hardware reliability as either "excellent" or "very good."
"There's no doubt that user confidence in the reliability of both the Macintosh hardware and software products is having a tangible impact on corporate purchasing and deployment trends," DiDio wrote in a draft of a report based on the survey that she will soon release.