Apple iPad sales hit 2 million last week – a milestone few companies or products have ever achieved… let alone in their first two months of sales.  And while iPads have yet to significantly impact the enterprise, it has become apparent to most global enterprises that the Mac has grown in both presence and relevance.  In fact, more and more companies today are offering their employees Mac and Windows options for their personal desktop environment.  This not only makes for happier users, it also helps to ensure that already productive Mac users remain that way.

Further, this trend has spread to include, not only the traditional media, broadcasting, and advertising verticals that one might expect, but also unfamiliar territories such as financial services and technology as well. News from Google this week reveals that, due to security concerns, they are moving away from Windows PCs enterprise-wide, in favor of Mac and Linux clients.

And yet, with today’s growing base of Mac users accessing a primarily Windows-based enterprise, fundamental differences between the Mac and Windows operating systems can make the integration between Macs and Windows a significant challenge.  Most fundamentally, Mac performance and file integrity can be compromised because of incompatibilities between Windows and Mac OS X operating systems – largely caused by the differences in the file sharing protocols they are designed to use.  In the Windows case, file sharing is conducted using the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol, which lacks many of the capabilities included in the Mac’s default Apple Filing Protocol (AFP).

And, as Mac users encounter data integrity issues or become dissatisfied with system performance, they naturally turn to the Help Desk, which has seen a significant increase in inbound calls from Mac users who simply need a way to share data with Windows-based systems.

What’s needed is a solution that ensures transparency between Mac and Windows, in what is becoming less and less a Windows-centric world.

The pervasive business role of digital content, combined with pressures to reduce costs and increase business efficiency, has escalated the demand for enterprises to better access, share, and manage digital assets. In an effort to meet this demand, organizations have implemented a variety of Enterprise Content Management and Collaboration solutions.

And while these solutions address some of the functional requirements for storing, indexing and retrieving digital content, in many cases, they fall short in effectively addressing today’s collaboration challenges. In addition, our customers report inherent reliability, ease of use, performance and security issues that impair effective digital content access and sharing between ECM/Collaboration systems and their users. Most importantly, these solutions often lack the ability to handle the more stringent demands of digital content-driven business processes.

Organizations are simultaneously seeking new models to more effectively scale their IT infrastructure.  By moving more IT resources into the cloud, better economies of scale are gained by leveraging demand based capacity allocation.  This shift toward cloud computing is not without its challenges.  The cloud is only effective provided that it serves as an extension of locally deployed applications and operates at a performance comparative to local infrastructure.  In order for the cloud to serve as a meaningful deployment option for ECM/Collaboration systems, the transparent, secure, and high performance movement of digital content into and out of the cloud is essential.

Finally, many ECM/Collaboration solutions aren’t capable of supporting today’s multi-platform environments.  And while this has not had an effect on Windows users, Mac users deal with performance, security, data integrity and management issues everyday arising from the inconsistencies between Windows and Mac environments.

We believe that what are needed are solutions to help bridge the gaps left by today’s ECM and collaboration solutions.  In the coming weeks, you’ll hear more from us about the strategic challenges we all must face to address both today’s and tomorrow’s trends in collaboration and information sharing today.