Last week PSC was invited to participate in the global IT summit held by one of our clients. We had a couple of hours to facilitate a discussion and to present our view on several topics. One of the “hottest” discussions was centered around Apple in the organization. Users (executives) want it, IT is afraid of it.
The ever expanding presence of Apple device in the enterprise cannot be denied. And it is no longer just the creative and marketing departments that are using them. People are increasingly becoming Mac, iPhone and now iPad users. And if they have these devices available to them at home, they want to use them at the office. When the company executives are asking to be able to use them, the IT department is hard pressed to say no to them.
The IT response to Apple is fairly standard: we’re a Windows shop, we’re a BlackBerry shop, iPhone is not secure, I can’t join you to the Active Directory domain — in short, we don’t support Macs. But that’s a position that is becoming increasingly hard to maintain, so I’m seeing more of my clients providing some form of support for Apple in their enterprise.
Once the IT gets over its initial fear of Macs, support for Apple devices generally come in two flavors: organizations either completely outsource all Apple support to a 3rd party Apple consulting shop or, if the Mac contingent is substantial enough, hiring staff dedicated to supporting Macs.
The one mistake a lot of IT departments make is trying to treat Apple computers the same way as they treat Windows machines, expecting them to require constant feeding and care, where the contrary is more of a case. Macs generally don’t require a lot of maintenance and support. Sure they experience occasional hardware issues, just like any piece of equipment would. But on a day-to-day basis, Mac users don’t require a great deal of attention. In fact, once these machines are setup and configured, they just sort of run.
Mac OS and software updates are much less frequent than those of Windows and are generally pretty safe, they don’t cause things to break. Viruses are nearly non-existent in the Mac world. Applications are easy to install and remove and they don’t step on each other, breaking an enterprise application with a newly installed piece of some freeware.
So unless you have a crazy power user who likes to poke around with command line parameters and explore hidden directories, having a few Macs in your organization is pretty safe and rather painless.
Macs are definitely not Windows and problems arise when you need Macs to run the same software, or you trying to make them function just like a Windows machine. This happens when you have a large number of Mac users and your software vendors offer none to limited support for them. I’ve seen these situations with everything from common Microsoft Visio and Project products to SAP clients, IBM/Lotus Notes clients and Lotus Notes desktop managers (CooperTeam Desktop Manager and Panagenda’s Marvel Client).
When this happens you need to be prepared to offer your users compromises. The options include the obvious of not buying software that doesn’t support Macs; running Windows (VMware Fusion, Parallels, Bootcamp) on the Mac; finding Mac-specific versions of software in question; offering Terminal services (Citrix or Windows) or, of course, simply not using a Mac. Your particular answer will differ based on the situation, software or user in question.
In either case, you should be prepared that one day your users will ask to use a Mac at work. And to keep your users happy, you should know how you’re going to answer that question.
Filed under: Consulting | Tagged: Apple, Apple in the Enterprise, Enterprise, IT, Mac | Leave a comment »