Galen Gruman's recent InfoWorld article about how Cisco manages 35,000 Macs describes an evolution of their IT department's approach to the Apple platform, going from a desire to block Macs on the network to fully embracing the platform. Brett Belding, Cisco's senior manager for IT mobility services, says that there are 35,000 Macs in use at Cisco today.
There is a lot of insightful information in the article, and it includes great details about the steps Cisco took to make Mac management a reality. The key takeaway is that Mac management can be done in large organizations, and Apple technologies can peacefully co-exist with existing Windows infrastructure.
Here are 5 things that Cisco did to make their Mac management project successful:
Leverage policy-based management.
Use inventory information to manage permissions and access, while verifying that key requirements are being met. With automated reporting, IT is able to ensure that Macs are in compliance and remediate if they are not.
Embrace Self Service.
Whenever possible, allow users to manage their own computers using Self Service. Mac users are often comfortable supporting themselves, and organizations often find that a Self Service approach empowers users. In the process, it often decreases help desk ticket volumes and increases end user happiness.
Move at the speed of mobile.
Mobile moves quickly, and end users expect to be able to use the latest OS and apps quickly. Increasingly, this expectation has also become more prevalent amongst computer users. According to the article, "Cisco's IT group realized that everything 'moves at the speed of mobile, and we need to move with it.'" By looking for ways to "say yes quickly" and "proactively communicating with users", the IT team has been able to support and enable employees while acting as a positive force at the company.
Understand compliance and security requirements.
Each organization has different requirements for compliance and security, whether it be encryption or backup. After identifying your specific needs, you can use best-of-breed tools to ensure your Macs are in compliance. Cisco, for example, had specific backup requirements that they were able to fulfill to satisfy legal requirements. Many other organizations leverage the native FileVault 2 encryption technology built into OS X.
Leverage web apps.
Where possible, Cisco evaluated the possibility of migrating to web apps organization-wide. Using web apps for many key functions made the end user's platform less important. With this shift in thinking, they were less tied to platform-specific technologies that might minimize user experience on some platforms. In the process, they simplified management requirements, allowing them to treat devices as simply a device, regardless of which operating system it was running.
We recommend taking the time to read the full article on the InfoWorld site.
If you are planning a Mac, iPad, iPhone, or Apple TV deployment in your organization, we would love to hear from you. Even if you are not currently responsible for managing Apple in the enterprise, we would love to hear your comments. What do you think?