Mac Management Part 1: History of Macs in the Workplace

Written by Greg Keller on March 10, 2015

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The move to the cloud along with the acceptance of Macs in the workplace has been a nightmare for IT teams. In this four part series discussing managing Mac devices within an organization, we’ll look at how this problem emerged, the challenges that Macs pose, potential solutions to the problem, and how modern organizations are solving the Mac challenge.

The four parts can be found below:

  1. Mac Management Part 1: History of Macs in the Workplace
  2. Mac Management Part 2: Issues with Mac Management
  3. Mac Management Part 3: Traditional Mac Management Solutions
  4. Mac Management Part 4: DaaS Manages Macs

For our first installment in the series, let’s discuss how Macs emerged as a significant platform in the enterprise and the impact they have on IT organizations, specifically IT’s ability to centrally control and manage access to IT resources.

Workplace Culture Change

cross device management

Fundamental shifts in the technology industry over the last decade have made it significantly harder for sysadmins to manage their infrastructure.  As Apple introduced innovative, sleek Mac desktops and laptops, they made their way into corporate environments en masse. Coupled with the move to the cloud and away from the traditional “domain,” the access-control and management of Macs is causing sysadmins to reconsider their internal infrastructure.

What once was positioned for the hip and cool early adopters is now for the mainstream. Apple Macs are becoming a staple for enterprises and even more so with smaller organizations. Macs are generally easier to use than PCs and the historical limit of application support for Macs is no longer applicable. Apple has done a tremendous job of marketing Macs as the platform for innovative people and as a result their sales have skyrocketed. The move to Macs has somewhat coincided with the equally bold shift to from Microsoft Exchange to Google Apps and Gmail . While organizations still leverage AD, many are struggling with the move to corporate Gmail and even more so to cloud-based services. The challenges increase when you consider adding in non-Windows platforms

The on-premises network is changing. No longer is it assumed that a significant amount of infrastructure is at an organization’s offices. Server rooms and data centers are falling by the wayside while IT shifts to cloud-based services such as file storage, CRM, and many others. With infrastructure decreasing on-premises and a shift to Macs, where does that leave a sysadmin interested in managing their user’s access to the network and their devices?

The Need for a New Solution

Active Directory Server fail

Active Directory loses much of its value when an organization moves most of its infrastructure to the cloud and to different operating systems. Macs cannot be easily managed by AD and with little server infrastructure, where will the AD server(s) be housed? The move to Gmail provides reliable, cost-effective email, but it doesn’t solve the problem of access control and device management in either a Windows or Mac context.

The shift to the Mac platform is a major opportunity for any business yet also a challenge for their IT department. In our next article in this series, we’ll talk about the problems that IT admins need to solve with Macs. You can also learn more about mac management in the following webinar: Managing Macs in the Cloud-Forward Enterprise.

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