I’ve often been asked how can a company who has used Windows for years, or decades, change their client infrastructure? Well, it’s a lot easier than you think, let me explain.

Over the last 10 years, smaller servers have gained access to technology once only used by IBM mainframes, it is called virtualization. The principle is this: create software that makes another operating system think it is running in a physical server all by itself, when in fact it is running INSIDE of another server. The original problem IBM was trying to solve back in the early 70’s was how to leverage their very expensive and relatively scarce S/370 mainframe resources, so their programmers could test multiple software applications in one mainframe, instead of one application per system. Thus was born VM/370, or Virtual Machine Facility / 370.

Fast forward 30+ years and a little company called VMware (www.vmware.com) created a product that allowed an Intel server to host several operating systems, mimicking the features of VM/370 (albeit using a simpler method and not as robust). What used to require separate servers for each instance of an operating system, could now be done with one server with those OS instances taking up a portion of the machine resources. Not only could users make better use of their existing servers, they also could more easily move these compute resources around and “reinstall” them by simply duplicating the OS instance, which are in effect a big file (40GB, for example). No more mindless hours spent shoving CD’s into the machine when reinstalling the operating system!

Fast forward 10 more years and we now have virtualization software applications that allow us to install different operating systems on our laptops and PC’s at our desks! The same benefits apply here; by using one physical machine to house different operating systems, we can easily switch between environments, a boon to software developers that need to test their code for different platforms. This is also a timesaver when Windows decides to go belly up and nothing you do can resurrect it. Now you can simply copy over a new “virtual” Windows PC, apply your license key and personal settings and start again. This can easily save hours of work reinstalling Windows on a PC.

What I have found is that using products like Parallels (www.parallels.com) virtualization software on Apple Macs, allows customers to use Windows for the specific industry applications required to run their businesses, while letting the Mac take care of the rest of their workflow; email, browsing the internet, file and printer sharing, and all their office applications for word processing, spreadsheets and presentations run equally well on the Mac. This separation of duties reduces the opportunities for crashes in Windows. Another benefit is a big money saver; the applications Apple includes with each Mac have no additional licensing or maintenance fees, unlike Microsoft’s Office apps and their server software.

So yes, Apple Macs and Windows applications do play well together. Use Windows via Parallels for the key applications for your business, and let the Mac take care of everything else. You’ll find the stability and speed of OS X to be a big timesaver and I’ll bet you’ll find Windows is even quicker in a Parallels VM.

Let me help you set up one machine as a trial and see for yourself.