How Apple is winning over the enterprise -- without even trying

By Maria Korolov, Network World |  Hardware, Apple, Macs

Today, almost all 2,000 students, with the exception of some graduate and fifth-year students, use Macs, as do almost all of the university's 500 employees.

One early problem was Active Directory integration. Apple's OS 10 will work with it, but not easily, and if the university were doing it over again, it would use Centrify, a vendor which specializes in integrating Macs into Windows networking environments. "We're actually looking at Centrify right now," Maples says. "Our biggest challenge now with the Mac is authentication, keeping account information synchronized and setting password policies."

Another challenge was managing user expectations. "You have to be careful when you make the switch not to say that it's going to be better - better is subjective," he says. "Some people weren't very happy with the changes ... and that was our stupidity because we thought everyone would like it."

The recent versions of the Apple operating system hook into Active Directory and Exchange and connect to file servers, says Aaron Freimark, IT director at New York-based Apple consultancy Tekserve. He is also the founder of EnterpriseIOS.com, an online community for IT administrators who have implemented Apple devices in their organizations.

"The baseline works, and is configured," he says. "But you often get a better experience with a third-party application. For example, the mail client that comes with the Mac works with Exchange, but it may not have all the features that someone wants."

"We make the Mac machine a security peer to the Windows machine," says Centrify's Macintosh Product Manager Lance McAndrew. According to McAndrew, few large organizations are monolithic environments. In addition to running Windows, most also run Unix, Linux and, now, Macs.

To comply with regulations and ensure security, companies need to make sure that employees can access the resources they need to do their jobs while providing access that is secure and trackable, he says.

RAND Corp., a think tank headquartered in Santa Monica, Calif., uses Centrify DirectControl to authenticate Mac and Linux computers with Windows Active Directory. Around 400 of the company's 2,000 employees use Macs.

"We're seeing a lot of companies trying to get in front of this," McAndrews says. "They're coming to us and saying, 'Right now employees can pick between an HP machine and a Dell machine when they come into the company, and we want a Mac to be one of the platforms they can pick.'"

In addition to Centrify, there are several other vendors that can help a company integrate Macs into the enterprise. They include the Casper Suite from JAMF Software, which works with Apple computers and mobile devices.


Originally published on Network World |  Click here to read the original story.
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