Eliminating Microsoft Part 1: Windows

Written by Natalie Bluhm on July 29, 2017

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In part 1 of our series on how to eliminate Microsoft from your network, we explore how IT organizations are eliminating Microsoft Windows. We’ll examine why end users prefer non-Windows machines and how IT can start to manage these non-Windows solutions.

Many organizations have already taken this step. In fact, only one in five devices in enterprises is now Microsoft Windows (Forbes). That means that four out of those five devices are now macOS, Linux, iOS, or Android. Most IT organizations are already experiencing this trend with Windows laptops and desktops hardly being the norm these days.

Why Have Users and IT Organizations Shifted Away from Windows?

cloud device management

When cell phones started to have the capability to text and send/receive email, the world shifted. Of course, many of us remember the Blackberry, which truly kicked off this wave of handheld computing for end-users. The iPhone extended this so rapidly that it actually put IT in a tough spot. End users started buying smartphones in droves and wanted to hook up their email and other corporate applications to their phone. End users started becoming comfortable buying technology and also bringing it into the enterprise, which led to their decisions around laptops and other devices (e.g. tablets). Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies started to appear as a way for IT to grapple with this influx of devices on their network.

But what caused this shift? Why did end users suddenly want alternate platforms? Think for a moment about the barrier that Apple faced in making macOS devices more popular than Windows. It was tremendous. Workers had been using Windows-based laptops or desktops at their offices for decades. They knew how to use those machines and applications. Braving the unfamiliarity of new technology and the heavy price tag, millions of people went and chose Apple Mac devices over Windows. Why? Sleek design and good marketing clearly played a role. But more importantly, it was easier and more natural for them to work with those systems. They integrated more tightly with their smartphones and tablets, making their data management easier.

In the face of this user-driven revolution, IT has still been resisting eliminating Microsoft Windows from their environment.

Why the Determined Hold on Windows?

cross-platform device management

It’s not that they don’t want to satisfy their end users. IT has just had an inability to properly manage those non-Windows systems. Virtually all of the most significant management tools – Active Directory®, SCCM, and others – have focused on Windows. Consequently, in order to manage macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android machines, IT admins would need to find new tools and solutions to manage those systems and users.

The management capabilities that were most critical boiled down to two areas:

  1. How will IT admins manage who has access to those machines?
  2. How will IT ensure that those machines fall within their policies?

Unfortunately, Active Directory struggles with any non-Windows operating systems. Managing users on macOS and Linux devices can be a significant challenge, and many IT organizations have either opted to forgo a directory service to manage users or they are forced to purchase third-party solutions that sit on top of AD. The same ends up holding true for managing the device itself. Mac and Linux solutions were neither high on Microsoft SCCM’s list to tightly integrate nor treat as well as they do Windows. Therefore, IT admins were justifiably concerned about how to handle user and device management tasks.

Solutions for Mixed-Platform Environments

The good news is that there are other solutions that can manage non-Windows devices as well as Windows machines and users. Directory-as-a-Service® (DaaS) is the cross-platform, independent replacement to Active Directory. On the machine management side, solutions such as Automox are the modern-day replacement to SCCM.

Replacing Windows in your network is a fairly common occurrence in today’s IT organization. With some help, you can end up having an optimized heterogeneous environment that might even work better than than a homogeneous Windows network.

Continue Reading the Eliminating Microsoft Series

Learn More about Replacing Windows with DaaS

If you would like to learn more about eliminating Microsoft Windows from your organization, take a minute to contact us or watch this whiteboard video explaining JumpCloud’s system management. You can also start testing our cross platform system management solution for yourself by signing up for a free account. Your first ten users are free forever.

Natalie Bluhm

Natalie is a writer for JumpCloud, an Identity and Access Management solution designed for the cloud era. Natalie graduated with a degree in professional and technical writing, and she loves learning about cloud infrastructure, identity security, and IT protocols.

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