The CIO's guide to utilizing Macs as enterprise endpoints
6/3/2022
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The CIO's guide to utilizing Macs as enterprise endpoints

The pandemic sped up many businesses' digital transformation projects and implementations. Teams had to accommodate more remote work simultaneously, which required more security services and gave users more control over the type of equipment they utilized. As a result, more Apple Macs are used by corporate users. According to IDC, Macs currently account for 23% of endpoints in enterprises, which is a sizable fraction of all endpoints.

Many of those presumptions, nevertheless, are no longer accurate. Research covering the total cost of ownership for Macs was prepared in 2021 by Apple and Forrester, and it found savings of $843 per endpoint over three years. Compared to mid-tier and higher-end Windows computers, regular Macs' purchase and management costs are comparable. At the same time, specific equipment designed for very big creative tasks like rendering may be more expensive.

Users of Macs claim that their productivity has increased. Before this, IBM reported that employees who used Macs felt more productive and had higher "net promoter scores" than the general population of Windows users. Although it can be challenging to measure, the increase in productivity and quality of work does show a greater return on investment given the users' current equipment.

The life cycle of Macs

Users had more options due to the pandemic's quick transformation, and more of them switched to Macs.

As long as you know how Apple devices are managed, the management overhead is reduced from a corporate perspective. Even if the Forrester data previously mentioned suggests that endpoint management may eventually result in cost savings, many more businesses must now consider how to handle these devices in the long run.

Since the management approach is quite different from Macs, there are several practical issues that IT managers will need to understand.

Microsoft, for instance, has a clear strategy for end-of-life dates for its operating systems. This strategy makes it very obvious to IT administrators when support for particular operating system (OS) versions expires and when security flaws will no longer be patched. The situation for macOS is not crystal clear.

The user's hardware and operating system are both provided by Apple. It is simpler to distinguish between outdated hardware and the endearingly labeled "vintage." However, little is known about what is supported and what is not on the operating system side. Older PCs may still be able to run all the programs and services users on such machines need to be productive since older machines can run newer versions of macOS.

Support

Along with the end of support, there are other issues to consider, like security and how long operating system updates will be created. When questioned, the company's official response is, "The most secure version of macOS is the most recent version." Typically, macOS versions get full upgrades for a year, then maintenance and security updates for up to two years.

If Apple releases security patches, older macOS versions will continue to get them if the threats are significant enough. There is no notice beforehand of what will or won't receive an update. Those accustomed to making long-term plans based on certain end-of-life dates may find this uncertainty frustrating.

Compared to Microsoft Windows, macOS takes a different approach to patching. Windows was designed with capabilities that make the updating process simple to enforce and monitor, allowing for a centralized and regulated approach to patches and updates.

On the other side, macOS firmly places most of the control over updates in the hands of the user. When any update is installed is up to them. Central administration can implement changes, but the process can be incredibly painful. With no option for the user to save their work, it demands an immediate upgrade. When people seek more freedom in how, when, and where they work, this abrupt switch-off can be incredibly detrimental.

Unlike Windows, which relies on human interaction and prodding, managing updates on Macs necessitates a different strategy. Both sets of devices will need to be managed by enterprise IT teams, which could eventually result in greater expenses. If you don't prepare in advance, this added workload may turn the rumor that Macs are more expensive into fact.

Consolidation

What does this demand for planning mean for IT administrators, then? Ideally, you ought to try to combine them. One solution is to reduce the number of macOS versions you have installed. This should lessen the risk associated with future security concerns and make it easier to support throughout time.

This strategy should ideally apply to both Windows and macOS; instead of using several tools and tactics to handle each set of devices, consider how you might consolidate them.

Second, consider your patch management and rollout processes. When you depend on people to carry out updates, it is crucial to promote communication and user awareness. It's also important to consider how to handle notifications so that users know how and when updates will be made.

This requires walking a careful line between pestering users and encouraging them to act morally before a deployment deadline. Giving your coworkers the impression that they are in charge of updates will make them your security partners and encourage them to perform the IT duty of carrying out their updates. Your coworkers don't want to be the cause of a security breach at the end of the day.

From an IT standpoint, the increase in Macs in the workplace will change the burden for IT administrators. However, if done correctly, it shouldn't need additional work.

Additionally, IT departments must be able to assist businesses in enhancing employees' daily working conditions. This will become significant in the future. According to an interesting Forrester analysis from 2021, Mac users were 20% more likely to remain with their employers. This illustrates an IT-related unforeseen outcome that will benefit companies.