Tips for managing all those Macs that your employees are bringing to work
BYOD generally refers to devices like smartphones and tablets. But increasing consumerization also means that more Macs are sneaking into the workplace -- think BYOC, or bring your own computer. While Macs can be good enterprise citizens, they do require a different approach than Windows PCs, according to Forrester analyst David Johnson.
Enterprises have historically shied away from buying Macs in bulk, saving them for specific cases like graphic designers. But Johnson believes that Macs will become more popular in the workplace over the next five years as more people choose their own laptops.
Forrester recently found that nearly 70% of employees who choose a laptop for work are receiving no reimbursement, meaning that they have a lot of influence over their technology choices. Another Forrester study from late 2011 found that 32% of employees using ultraportables would prefer to be using Mac OS devices (that is, the Macbook Air), while only 22% were actually using them. As more employees get to choose their own laptops, those numbers should start to equalize.
So how are companies managing this influx?
Many are taking a very hands-off approach. In a blog post, Johnson wrote that some companies have a policy of "non-interference" with their Mac community, meaning no heavyweight user agents, no forced reboots, and a general policy of trust. Many organizations are avoiding antivirus software as well because of the relative infrequency of Mac viruses and the effect that these tools can have on performance.
Johnson has some more specific recommendations for companies when it comes to managing Macs. He sees several levels of access that might be needed:
- Email and limited network access. For employees who own their own Macs, work in lightly regulated industries, and don't need access to sensitive information, a basic level of access may be fine. Johnson recommends giving employees instructions on how to connect to a corporate email account without a VPN, and giving limited network access to specific applications. Companies who already have an investement in mobile device management solutions for iOS should be able to extend these solutions to Macs as well.
- Fully trusted and managed Macs. For company-owned Macs, as well as workers in more regulated industries or sensitive positions, more care must be taken. Security provisions include turning on the personal firewall and having strong backup and recovery tools. But Johnson says antivirus and antimalware software is too much of a drain on productivity because it requires workers to wait for long periods during startup; he recommends skipping it. He also cautions that data loss prevention (DLP) software should be used sparingly, as it can be a "significant source of end-user frustration and pain." Organizations should also use use Mac-specific solutions for deploying and patching applications and the OS, and Apple's Time Machine or Archiware's PresSTORE for backup and recovery.
- Offering access to Windows apps. Here, individual users may choose a product like Parallels or VMWare Fusion to run Windows apps in a local virtual machine. But some companies Johnson spoke with offered high praise for MokaFive, which lets companies deploy and manage WIndows VMs centrally. Hosted Windows desktop solutions from companies like Citrix and VMware can also work for companies with the necessary infrastructure, but users will require a fast network connection.
The biggest challenge? "Unlearn conventional wisdom," said Johnson.
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