There’s no doubt that integrating Apple Devices into your enterprise brings confirmable benefits to your organization. A large percentage of your users are already partial to them because they own them personally. This combination of preference and familiarity with the Apple platform translates into greater employee morale and productivity. Apple devices also have reduced costs over the complete product life cycle, which makes the bean counters happy. There’s a lot of great reasons to assimilate Apple products into your environment, but despite the best of intentions, IT may still be reluctant to take that first step.
The reason is simple. The Apple OS is architecturally different from the Windows world that internal IT is often times so familiar with. Let’s not beat around the bush, the diversity between these platforms is very real. Tasks such as opening a simple Excel spreadsheet stored on a local file share becomes a lot more complicated when it needs to be opened onto an iPad. While internal IT may have perfected the art of deploying Windows 10 or Chrome devices, there is obviously a dearth of proficiency in deploying Apple devices at scale. A transition to Apple products should be approached no differently than other IT integrations. It demands a great deal of planning and prep work to ensure that the actual integration runs smoothly. Below are 5 preparatory steps to help make the integration of Apple products a smooth one.
1. Determine the Deployment Scale
There’s no doubt that a portion of your users have voiced their preference to Apple products over the current company device selection. But how broad is this preference? For an advertising firm, it may be universal throughout the entire firm. For a healthcare organization, it might be a suggested platform for internal staff and patients to interact with each other. For an accounting firm, the demand may be limited to a few members of the executive team that want to incorporate MacBook Pros as a mobile device.
Determining the scope of interest and current use level will help you determine the resource intensity to allocate towards the deployment process. Accommodating the requests of a few users can possibly be addressed by a limited BYOD program while a broad interest level might justify the introduction of a corporate-provisioned employee choice program. You may also choose non-personalized shared devices to allocate to patients or retail floor workers. Each of these provisioning tactics are very different and incur different benefits and costs.
2. Ensure your Network is Ready for Apple Devices at Scale
There’s no skirting the issue that Apple computers are well, different than the Windows environment you built your network around. The introduction of this new device platform also institutes new protocols and services. For instance, Apple utilizes a zero-conﬁguration network protocol called Bonjour that makes it easier for Apple devices to automatically find and connect to computers and printers. While it simplifies the discovery process for Apple users, it can also create a great deal of multicast network traffic on your Wireless VLAN. Conflicts can also arise when wireless and wired devices need to communicate with one another. Many wireless solutions offer configuration settings to specifically accommodate Apple devices for this reason. You also need to ensure that your VPN solution can accommodate Apple devices.
3. Integration Methodology
The mere mention of directory integration of MACs into a Windows AD environment used to drive admins nuts at one time. The good news is that Apple has made things much easier today to bind Apple computers into an AD Domain without a daunting learning curve. You can also leverage available AD integration tools today such as Apple’s own Enterprise Connect Solution or TruSource NoMad. If you are using strictly mobile devices, you may choose MDM enrollment as your integration and deployment architecture. When it comes to MDM, you may consider a separate MDM platform for your Apple products versus managing all devices from a single pane of glass and there are pros and cons to both approaches. Unified platforms such as Intune are certainly desirable but can result in reduced flexibility and increased complexities to the device management process.
4. Don’t Forget Repairs and Spare Parts
While Apple devotees often cite the superior quality of their Apple devices, sometimes they do break now and then. You must be able to accommodate rapid replacement provisioning for devices that are out of commission so having spares on hand is essential. You need to have an ample supply of power cords, batteries and keyboards in stock as well. For those who rely on BYOD deployments, the issue of how to conduct repairs in a secure fashion is important. Industry and government security compliances often require secure disposal procedures of computing components such as hard drives and memory modules.
5. Staff Preparation and Training
If your organization has little exposure to Apple products, then chances are your staff has a minimal level of competence as well. Internal IT must have the necessary skillset and knowledge base to be able to ensure that your Apple integration is a success. You may consider augmenting and supplementing your staff with Apple deployment experts that can efficiently complete the initial deployment project. But this is only the beginning. Your support personnel must acquire the training to support and maintain both the hardware and software for these devices. You must be able to convey a level of expertise to your users in order to gain their trust concerning their preferred devices.
Apple products differentiate themselves in a number of ways, some of which adds to their desirability. While the introduction of Apple devices into a traditional enterprise can certainly be challenging, it is one that can be easily overcome with foresight and planning. Like it or not, Apple is making inroads into the enterprise, and the ability to prepare for that proliferation is important in order to ensure that the perceived benefits of embracing Apple products becomes reality. If you have questions about integrating Apple devices in your enterprise reach out to an Apple reseller like WEI who has the tools and expertise to help you succeed.
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