Think Different. Mac @ IBM

Gerhard Poul
2 min readOct 18, 2015


It’s good to see that the Mac at IBM program is well and good. Fletcher Previn, VP of Workplace-as-a-Service, gave a presentation about the current state of the deployment at the JAMF Nation User Conference.

Fletcher Previn presenting at JAMF Nation User Conference — Courtesy of JAMF Software

To date, IBM has already deployed 30,000 MacBooks to IBMers; when an employee’s laptop is due for replacement after 48 months, they get a choice of which new laptop to replace it with and every week 1,900 IBMers choose to replace their old laptops with new MacBooks.

Previn notes that only 5% of Mac users call the help desk compared to 40% of PC users. You got to wonder though, whether the 35% of Mac users who don’t call haven’t just figured out that calling the help desk at IBM is a waste of time anyways. Most people only call them for password resets or when a server is down, although you could as well wait until the server is restarted on its own to save your time.

For the enterprise there is no real difference in which laptop to buy other than that it has to work reliably and also run your software, but that’s where it gets interesting.

Have you ever exchanged Microsoft Office files with someone on Mac? What you’ll get back after they’ve been edited on Mac are files that you can open and view, but in some cases you can’t really edit anymore, because specific features are only supported on Mac, and I’m sure the same thing is true vice versa.

IBM will have a concurrent deployment of Windows and Mac for a long time, and I’d guess this will cause a lot of frustration, but fortunately you can’t call the help desk for those issues anyway, because everything works as designed. — but keep in mind that as an IBMer you’ll have those problems anyway, no matter if you personally make the switch to Mac or not, and it’s not like you ever got meaningful support form the help desk for Lotus Symphony or Microsoft Office on Windows, even when they didn’t work as designed.

What about Microsoft Visio and Microsoft Project? Ah well. Who am I kidding. VMware with Windows? Not a good story, but only IT Architects and Project Managers will care about those.

Most of the internal software at IBM was reworked for the migration to Linux, that nobody seems to be talking about anymore, now that there is an alliance with Apple. So what do you end up with? A bunch of Java and Web applications optimized for Firefox that could run on anything, but yes, they run especially shiny on MacBooks.

If you were an IBMer and your ThinkPad was due for replacement, what would you choose?



Gerhard Poul

Software Engineer with an interest in Cloud Platforms and DevOps