Intel Information Technology
Using Virtualization to Integrate Mac OS X*
into PC-centric Environments
Virtualization makes it possible to: Intel IT has successfully integrated Apple Macintosh* computers into Intel’s
predominantly Microsoft Windows*-based enterprise computing environment
• Run multiple OSs on one computer
simultaneously. using client virtualization. Employees working on Macs can run Microsoft Windows
applications from their Mac OS X* desktop. Accessing both Mac and Windows
• Share files between the host and
applications simultaneously allows users to do their primary work on the Mac while
also working with important enterprise applications that only run in a Microsoft
• Support the VM running the guest Windows environment.
OS in the same way we support a
physical machine. We used virtualization software on Intel®-based Macs to create a virtual machine
(VM) running Microsoft Windows. Intel® Virtualization Technology (Intel® VT), built
into Intel® processors, works with third-party hypervisor technology to partition the
system and allow both Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows to run on the same hardware
simultaneously (Figure 1).
We anticipate a growing number of Mac, Linux*, and UNIX* users at Intel in the future,
and using virtualization allows us to support the needs of this diverse user base while
improving productivity for all Intel employees.
Guest OS Applications
Third-party Hypervisor Technology
Multi-Core Intel® Processor with
Intel® Virtualization Technology
Apple Macintosh* Computer
Figure 1. Intel® Virtualization Technology (Intel® VT) and third-party hypervisor technology enable
two OSs to run on the same hardware simultaneously.
IT@Intel Brief www.intel.com/it
Apple Macintosh* Enterprise Applications In 2005, Apple started incorporating Intel®
Computers at Intel Previously, Microsoft Windows was the most architecture into their systems. Within six
Intel has always had a small base of employees robust option for our enterprise business months, a software company developed a
who use Macs, mostly for video creation and and productivity applications, and there virtualization solution using Intel VT that would
editing within Intel’s video production group. was no need for us to design enterprise allow Microsoft Windows to run on Macs. This
We also began deploying Macs to a small set applications to support multi-supplier client event paved the way for us to provide a much
of employees who work directly with Apple. platforms. Over time, client application better solution for Mac users at Intel.
To investigate the impact of using Macs in a platforms such as Linux and Mac OS X have
INTEL® VIRTUALIZATION TECHNOLOGY
variety of job roles and physical locations, in achieved a robustness that makes them
2006 we began a pilot deployment to 500 viable and productive options for enterprise To help ease the challenges associated with
users across the enterprise. use. Additionally, the enterprise client base is supporting client diversity and to maximize
rapidly diversifying—from the introduction of employee productivity, Intel VT and third-
Over time, employees who experienced
new handheld devices such as smartphones, party virtualization software are providing a
productivity gains working on Macs continued
personal digital assistants (PDAs), and useful and cost-effective bridge between the
to use them, while those for whom it was
netbooks to Linux- and Mac OS X-based homogeneous Microsoft Windows-centric
not a good fit returned them. Employees who
PCs. Moving forward, it is imperative that we enterprise application base and the growing
see the most benefit from using a Mac in the
evolve our application base to support this multi-supplier client OS and platform base that
Intel environment include:
increased client diversity. employees want to use. Using virtualization
• Those who are more productive using Mac technologies, we have been able to more
OS X. This can include people with specific Supporting Mac Users rapidly adapt to the needs of enterprise users
physical limitations, new employees with Historically, supporting Mac users in an by allowing them to have a broader choice of
no Microsoft Windows experience, and enterprise environment based on Microsoft client platforms.
those who are primarily Mac users. Windows has been problematic. Two
• Engineers using UNIX*, upon which Mac imperfect solutions arose:
OS X is based, in their daily work. Intel IT currently deploys Macs with multi-
• Use a dual-boot configuration to
core Intel® processors enabled with Intel VT.
• Content developers working with graphics, switch between OSs. Since this required
Intel VT allows Macs to run multiple OSs
video creation, or video editing. a hard restart to access either OS, it was
simultaneously: Typically, we use Mac OS X as
• Those working directly or indirectly with an inefficient and inelegant answer to
the host OS and a guest VM running an OS
Apple, or involved in work that Apple heavily user needs.
such as Linux, UNIX, or Microsoft Windows.
influences—primarily in sales, marketing, and • Carry two notebooks—one a Mac, the
As was seen in Figure 1, the Intel VT
software development roles. other a PC. This meant twice the weight
architecture inside the Mac host machine
For these employees, using Macs greatly to carry for employees—and twice the
enables third-party hypervisor technology to
enhances their levels of productivity. However, expense to deploy and manage for Intel.
map the client platform hardware resources
they still need access to the enterprise tools Because there were no software applications directly to the VM. The result is a VM that
and applications that help them to function on the Mac side to solve the issue, we could operates almost like a standalone computer.
every day at Intel that only run in a Microsoft only offer these two options to Mac users—
We performed minor updates to our standard
Windows-based environment. other than providing no Microsoft Windows
Microsoft Windows build so that it works
access at all.
www.intel.com/it IT@Intel Brief
inside the VM environment, which provides application in much the same way as any • Enhances business engagements. Using
a seamless experience for users and Intel’s other native Mac application. virtualization to deploy Macs and other
Service Desk agents: OSs provides the flexibility Intel needs to
Because the virtualization software is loaded
conduct business seamlessly—regardless of
• Users have the same logon password, directly onto the client, unlike server-based
which OS other companies may use.
drivers, and security checks. desktop virtualization solutions, it does not
require a network connection. This allows • Prepares us for other deployment
• The user experience is the same as a
Mac users to access Microsoft Windows while models. We expect that this experience
physical PC so no training is required.
offline or traveling. PC performance levels will shorten the development cycles for the
• When OS or application problems arise with
while working within the VM are far greater use of virtualization in the other aspects
the VM, we use remote management and
than users anticipated, nearly matching that of client platform management, including
security patching—the same support we
of standard-issue laptops with Microsoft situations in which employees receive a
provide to physical PCs.
Windows OS. stipend to buy their own computer for use
Users see a window on their Mac desktop, as a corporate tool.
much like any application window; it displays Benefits of Virtualization • Establishes methods for faster OS
the Microsoft Windows desktop and provides The benefits of using virtualization to integrate migrations. One factor that slows OS
access to any software loaded onto the VM. diverse client platforms into the enterprise, migrations in the enterprise is the need to
Many of Intel’s Mac users enlarge this window summarized in Table 1, have been multifold. modify internal applications to work with
to full screen and place it on a second
We have also seen additional positive results: the new OS version. Client virtualization
monitor. Unlike the prior dual-boot solution,
provides a way to migrate the user base
both OSs can run simultaneously and are • Simplifies support. As we began to
to a new OS rapidly, and applications can
equally accessible. There are also advanced investigate supporting Macs in our
be revised on a more methodical schedule,
usage modes that can make the Microsoft environment, we were not constrained
thereby reducing costs.
Windows desktop completely invisible while by legacy support models; this allowed
us to develop a simplified model for Macs There is no noticeable impact to performance
the Microsoft Windows-base application is
tailored specifically to Mac OS X. if the host computer has sufficient memory—
still visible within a Mac application window.
more than 2 GB of RAM.
Users interact with the Microsoft Windows
Table 1. Benefits of Virtualization
Benefit How was this helpful?
Increased productivity New employees who are more familiar with Apple Macintosh* computers can ramp up immediately at Intel.
One machine to access multiple OSs Mac users can access Microsoft Windows* without changing laptops or performing a hard reboot.
Intel IT does not have to provide training Users only need to understand the concept of using a virtual machine (VM).
Data protection If the guest OS crashes, the host OS is not affected.
Multiple VMs More than one VM can be operated simultaneously if the host hardware is sufficiently robust.
Support for many OS combinations Virtualization solutions can also be used for running Linux* or UNIX*.