Are You on an "Apple" Island? You Needn't Be!
BY IRA GROSSMAN, CTO END USER COMPUTE AND PRINCIPAL CONSULTANT
In many organizations, Apple users can feel like they’re on an uncharted island. IT may be less familiar with Apple products, and the users themselves may have limited access to corporate applications compared to those on Windows. It’s also not unusual for us at MCPc to hear this last reason from a company’s IT group when we mention Apple in the Workplace: it’s too hard to integrate and manage Apple devices in my Windows centric world.
As part of Tech Week in Northeast Ohio, MCPc invited leaders from Apple and Progressive Insurance to participate in a group discussion about how organizations select, deploy and maintain Apple devices in the enterprise. The discussion, which was held over a lunch at MCPc’s Security Operations Center at Link 59 in Midtown Cleveland and later over end-of-day cocktails, focused on strategies and tactics enterprises of all sizes have taken to integrate corporate Macs while delivering service levels and a user experience that meet IT and security requirements as well as employee expectations.
A veteran Apple Systems Engineer represented Apple for the two session event. He discussed ways Apple's new MacOS and iOS platforms have become enterprise friendly through new, or improved, native features and increased 3rd party application support. He also lead the discussion on how to take advantage of Mac’s modern provisioning capabilities and MacOS’s ability to integrate seamlessly into a Windows environment.
Joining him was Keith Cmich from Progressive. Keith is a 19-year IT veteran of the organization and he is currently an IT systems engineer focused on the Mac platform. Keith shared insight on how a close partnership with MCPc changed Progressive’s relationship with Apple, transforming an isolated, off-network, user population into one that is fully integrated, managed, and secured and has a user experience on par with the Windows population.
When Progressive started working with MCPc, Keith said his major Apple pain points stemmed from the fact that all of Progressive’s Macs were off-network. As a result:
- Macs could not be centrally managed by Progressive IT
- They had non-standard deployment processes
- Mac users required two computers; a Windows device for their corporate apps and email and a Mac for their line of business applications.
Management difficulties aside, the Mac population’s lack of security created significant risk for Progressive. Mr. Cmich said that Mac users had to work around corporate data policies to collaborate with one another—degrading the user experience and opening the door for unmanaged risk. For an organization as security conscious as Progressive, he said, letting the brand of endpoint technology interfere with security compliance was unacceptable.
Progressive turned to MCPc for help integrating Apple into their environment.
MCPc and Apple conducted an Apple Readiness Assessment on behalf of Progressive. The consultation provided Progressive’s executive leadership with the cost benefit analysis of integrating Apple as well as acute insight into how Progressive IT would roll out a formal adoption of Apple.
The final participant on the panel, Brandon Nikel, MCPc’s Apple practice lead who works onsite at Progressive, spoke about the integration points between MCPc and Progressive that, today, enable the user experience, security compliance, IT support, and management capabilities that Keith and the rest of Progressive IT have come to expect from their Apple environment. Brandon explained how MCPc helps manage Progressive’s Apple environment by:
- Staffing Apple talent on-site to manage deployments, provide deskside support, and field Apple help desk calls
- Leveraging modern management, processes and integrating JAMF (an enterprise mobility and unified endpoint management tool) in System Center to design and build apple configuration profiles, maintain hardware and software inventory and apply software and security updates
- Managing Progressive’s Apple inventory held in secure storage at MCPc’s SkyPark logistics center
- Performing warranty repairs on Apple devices—eliminating the need to take corporate devices to retail Apple stores for repair
- And maintaining an open line of communication between Progressive and Apple allowing Progressive ample time to test operating system updates before Apple rolls out new versions of iOS and MacOS.
Keith noted that the MCPc team at Progressive has not only made the integration of Apple possible but also has made the end user and the IT management experience of the Apple environment seamless with the Windows environment.
Just like Progressive, other organizations are being confronted with the fact the enterprise can no longer exclude Apple from corporate IT. Be it demand from a specific user group like application developers, creative services employees, or executives, a line of business use case, or an employee choice recruiting initiative, Apple is in business today.
If you have an Apple initiative or if you’ve recently asked yourself “where do I start with Apple in business” we encourage you to contact MCPc.