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Essential admin tips: How to blend Macs into your business

Ryan Faas | Jan. 22, 2016
Bringing Macs into your existing business environment is a snap, with a few caveats and twists.

Essential admin tips: How to blend Macs into your business
Credit: Yoel Ben-Avraham via Flickr

If you still think Macs are fare for only specialty departments like design and marketing, think again. Business use of Macs is on the rise, and with it the need to better manage the fleet.

This past fall, for example, Apple and IBM highlighted the growing number of Macs used by employees of Big Blue, with IBM committing to 50,000 new MacBooks, a purchase order that saw IBM deploying about 1,900 Macs each week.

Though the size and speed of IBM's Mac deployment are significant, the more noteworthy numbers involve the costs to deploy and support Macs: According to CFO Luca Maestri, IBM has been saving roughly $270 for each MacBook its employees use instead of a traditional PC, and IBM VP Fletcher Previn has said that only 5 percent of IBM employees using MacBooks have called the help desk for support, as compared with 40 percent of PC users.

Initiating a major Mac deployment is becoming a more attractive option for many organizations because of the potential cost savings on support, more robust security, and reliable (if premium) hardware, as well as for reasons of user demand and/or satisfaction. Integration with Apple's larger ecosystem, particularly where it relates to the iPhone, which still dominates as the enterprise smartphone, provides an additional argument for Macs in business.

The following is the first of three articles aimed at helping you make the best of your Mac fleet.

Scale matters when it comes to Mac deployments

With a solid suite of major business and productivity apps and the ability for Macs to easily integrate into major enterprise systems, there are far fewer barriers to Mac adoption in the enterprise today than compared to even a few years ago.

One barrier that still exists: the fact that OS X is architecturally different from Windows. As a result, IT departments adopting Macs must understand these differences and ensure that they have the skills to adequately and efficiently support, manage, and deploy Macs at scale.

The operative word here is "scale" because effectively supporting a handful of Macs isn't particularly challenging. Help desk and support staff will need to get up to speed on supporting Mac OS and its hardware, but that isn't particularly difficult as Apple provides training, self-study, and certification options for gaining those skills. Scaling Mac deployments, however, means being able to automate many processes, particularly around implementation and configuration, and knowing how to apply management policies for a large number of Macs across an organization. Those skills go well beyond simply setting up and troubleshooting individual Macs, just as the skills of Windows systems administrators go well beyond those of help desk agents.


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