Yesterday I had dinner with a colleague from VMware. During our discussions he made a comment that surprised me and struck a realization for me. He was commenting on how the Macintosh laptops make ideal systems for running virtualization. The reason being that all the hardware on the MacBooks are standardized.
The key to virtualization is the ability to abstract the physical hardware to the operating system. This is the hardest part of any vituralization technology. Not only because of the complexity of that software, but because of the Quality Assurance testing that must be done. Every combination of possible hardware must be tested to ensure reliability. When you think about the combination of hardware possible with PC laptops, the QA test matrix becomes quite large. But, with the Apple laptops, you have a much smaller matrix to test.
We are starting to see serious projects around desktop virtualization (see recent articles How Merrill Lynch Plans To Virtualize Half Its Desktops and Desktop Virtualization Drives Security, Not Just Dollar Savings). When you consider the cost benefits for medium to large enterprises, I think it is clear that we are seeing the start of a wave for desktop virtualization in the IT industry. And that is ontop of just the start of data center virtualization.
Now look at all the variables in PC based business laptops and the complexity of testing all these variations with the virtualization technology, and there is an opening for MacBooks. Of course, this would also require a major change with Apple, they would need to start building an organization that could support enterprises. This means working with them a bit more instead of taking the consumer approach of “here are the options, take it or leave it”.
And then there is Microsoft and their upcoming virtualization technology, don’t expect them to just let such a invasion of MacBooks in the enterprise to happen.