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Support for Macs in the enterprise: Three factors to consider

There's no way around it: Many users just love Apple products. IT pros that want to support Macs in the workplace must take into account several considerations.

When it comes to comparing Windows devices versus Macs in the enterprise, IT must consider the overall cost and support requirements, user experience and remote access security.

Up until the early 2000s, marketing professionals and graphic designers were the primary Mac users, but in due time, users who preferred Macs as their primary workstations held a variety of job titles. Today, Mac users could just as easily be engineers, salespeople or accountants. Worldwide market share of macOS, including both consumer and enterprise users, was only 12.8% as of January, according to Statcounter.com data. But that may be changing.

Bringing down costs

Despite higher up-front equipment costs for Macs in the enterprise -- Microsoft's Surface Laptop starts at $999, for instance, while Apple's 2017 12-inch MacBook starts at $1,299 -- organizations can get savings over time by having to do fewer manual updates to devices and reducing desktop support requests. In addition, if IT departments let employees choose which device they wish to use, those individuals take greater ownership of their endpoints, which may result in reduced hardware loss and damage. Large IT departments at General Electric, Walmart and Capital One are implementing programs that allow employees to opt for Mac devices.

Apple devices
Apple desktop and mobile devices.

Macs provide unity

Apple has hit the mark when it comes to the cross-platform user experience. Users appreciate the integration of the applications and their functionality across mobile and desktop devices. With features such as Handoff and Continuity, users can do tasks such as answer iPhone calls on a Mac and start creating an email on an iPhone and finish it on a Mac.

It's these users with other Apple devices that are most likely to press their IT departments for Macs in the enterprise and opt for a Mac when given the choice.

Remote access security

Functionality and preference become the deciding factors for users.

Some people argue that Mac devices are inherently more secure than Windows devices, partly due to the fact that attackers typically create more viruses and malware that target Windows. But if a Mac doesn't get the same security checks as a Windows device would, IT departments must assess whether that could lead to greater security risks.

Many VPN products support endpoint analysis for Macs in the enterprise. For example, the VPN in Citrix NetScaler ADC can enable a rule that checks whether the device is a Windows PC or a Mac and proceed to further validate whether it is compliant with antivirus, web browser, hard disk encryption or other enterprise security requirements. The list of items that IT can analyze on Mac devices is shorter than that of Windows devices, however.


Bringing Macs to the enterprise.

For example, the NetScaler tool can only check registry entries and device access control or desktop sharing software, such as GoToMeeting or Zoom, on Windows devices. As such, it's not possible to validate an inserted registry key to ensure that the endpoint is an allowed device on a Mac, nor can endpoint analysis products detect questionable desktop access or sharing software. Some mobile device management tools can help pick up the slack where endpoint security tools lack in Mac management features, however.

Apple offers choice

For users bent on choosing Apple products, the company now offers another of its devices as a PC replacement -- the 12.9-inch iPad. When compared with the 12.3-inch Microsoft Surface Pro, it is clear that screen size no longer inhibits usability. Functionality and preference become the deciding factors for users who can select which device best suits their needs.  

When assessing the cost, user experience and security of Macs in the enterprise, more organizations are concluding that Macs make good business and technical sense. Let users work on their preferred devices, let IT minimize support costs, and let Apple secure the operating system.

Article 5 of 6
This was last published in March 2018

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How does your organization integrate Macs into the workplace?
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This has almost nothing helpful about supporting Macs in the enterprise. You cover the VPN issue but that is esoteric compared to the barn door you completely missed. 

The number one issue is the added management cost of MACs.  Macs have very little built in management for enterprises.  Microsoft has a significant portfolio of robust built in management features. To get similar management and enterprise connectivity features on the Mac side costs n additional $70 - $200 per unit in software licensing alone.  Add to that several 3rd party software developers are exiting the market because OSX updates keep killing their solutions and the price is just going to increase.  And even with management software, managing OSX is clunky and more labor intensive than PCs, and something is always going wrong. MAC tools make you feel like its 1990 again.  Also it is not uncommon to pay an "OSX use tax"  with enterprise support firms with an over 10% Mac population.  These guys know their support costs to the penny and know that they cannot absorb more than a modest Macs population before they have to increase their fees.
As an Enterprise IT guy I can care less what OS you use as long as it is secure manageable, and affordable; Macs are debatable in all three categories. I just don't want to blow the budget because someone thinks that they need a Mac to use the internet and create documents. 
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