A Mac Migration Tale: Rewarding But Not Easy

Auto Warehousing Company decided it could save money by migrating to Macs. Suddenly there were protests from employees, objections from customers, and questions from their financial institutions, according to Computerworld on Monday.

"I didnit see this coming at all," said Dale Frantz, CIO of AWC in Tacoma, Wash. "We never before had any of the workforce question our technological initiatives."

Problems arose when employees, accustomed to their PCs, didnit like the coming changes and worried that the company was purchasing "Lamborghini-level" computers that would cut into their companyis profits.

Mr. Frantz did the right thing: he disclosed to his employees the details cost savings by eliminating licensing fees from Microsoft. That amounted to more than US$1.82M over three years. The CIO set up town hall meetings to explain his thinking.

"I talked about the fact that Microsoft requires up to five client licenses for just one PC, just so we have the legitimate right to attach to the network. With Apple, thatis all included," Frantz notes. "Yes, it looks like the equipment is more expensive -- until you stack on all the client licenses to run Microsoft software." Revealing all the licensing details reassured his employees that the money on Macs was not a foolish expenditure.

There were other savings. "By getting off of Microsoft Active Directory and onto Open Directory, each individual server becomes separate and Microsoft can no longer view a broad enterprise network. This was a very significant change," Frantz says. That also saved on server charges form Microsoft. AWC also moved to Appleis open source mail server.

Consultants from Appleis professional services group worked side by side with his staff to make sure they had effective, elegant solutions for networking and security.

Apple has been promoting the cost savings available with their open source solutions for a long time. However, itis one thing to size up the cost savings; itis quite another to make the case to employees and customers and help them understand how the migration saves money. In this case AWC made it work.