This week’s MacSysAdmin 2012 Conference in Sweden kicks off a line of Mac/iOS conferences and training opportunities for IT professionals.
While many Apple fans and IT professionals that support iOS devices in the workplace are eagerly awaiting tomorrow’s Apple announcement, a group of Apple in the enterprise experts are meeting at MacSysAdmin 2012 – a conference for European IT professionals tasked with managing Macs and iOS devices in business, education, and other workplace settings. The annual conference traditionally posts videos of its sessions online for free (as does the Penn State MacAdmins Conference that was held in the U.S. this spring).
That isn’t the only major conference for Mac and iOS IT professionals, however. October brings two other major events (one of them free) and there are a number of excellent smaller events scheduled throughout the fall.
iOS 6 has lots of business potential, but having a plan about rolling it out is critical.
With the release of iOS 6, Apple will offer business users a range of new features. A few of which are VIP email filtering (already in Mountain Lion) with custom notifications, more options when declining a phone call on the iPhone, much-needed privacy options, and Apple’s new Do Not Disturb feature – which should help some mobile professionals to “switch off” after work and maybe even get a good night’s sleep.
iOS updates are generally designed to be user-friendly and easy enough that anyone can manage to install them. As with any major OS or business critical software upgrade, however, there may be unforeseen issues with iOS 6 – particularly when it comes to internal iOS apps and iOS access to enterprise systems.
An iOS 6 upgrade policy and strategy is something that every IT department should have in place before Apple releases iOS 6. For businesses that actively support user devices in the workplace through a BYOD (bring your own device) program, that upgrade strategy is even more critical.
Microsoft may try to challenge the iPad’s place in the classroom, but time isn’t on its side
The iPad became a big hit in the K-12 education market over the past year. Pioneering schools that brought Apple’s tablet into the classroom last school year proved that the iPad can be a excellent learning tool – one that has immense power to transform education.
As the new school year begins, and hundreds of thousands of students across the U.S. become iPad users thanks to one-to-one iPad deployments, there’s already talk that the iPad’s success in schools will be short-lived. The belief is that iPads will quickly be replaced by tablets running Microsoft’s Windows RT or Windows 8.
Lexington School District One in South Carolina shows what it takes to roll out iPads to thousands of students.
Many school districts around the country are embarking on new territory this back to school season – deploying hundreds or thousands of iPads to students. Most of the deployments will be one-to-one initiatives where every student receives a school-owned iPad to use for this school year or their entire scholastic career. Planning such a roll out isn’t easy, but schools and districts making the shift this year have the advantage of looking what worked and didn’t work from counterparts that pioneered the iPad in the classroom last year.
One school district, Lexington County School District One of South Carolina, has served as a model for many other schools around the country. The district offers a lot of insight into the technical requirements, education policy issues, and roll out processes in such a colossal undertaking.
FileWave’s new free app makes deploying Lion/Mountain Lion incredibly easy.
FileWave launched a new free app called Lightning this week. The new app makes quick and easy work of deploying Mountain Lion (and Lion) to multiple Macs, particularly recent Macs with Thunderbolt. It can be used to roll out existing master images that a business or school has already created as well as a base OS X install that can be customized with a range of files and applications.
What can businesses learn from a company that spent millions of dollars on thousands of iPads without knowing how they’d be used?
I’ve been a big proponent of the iPad in business since Apple first announced its tablet more than two and a half years ago. In that time, the iPad has more than proved its value in companies of all different sizes and across virtually every industry. That said, the iPad isn’t a fit for every job within every workplace. If a company is considering investing in iPads for its employees, one of the first things that company and its IT leaders need understand is how the iPad will be used.
That seems like a pretty basic step in the procurement process, but it’s one that seems to be getting overlooked by some companies – including one very large enterprise company that should have known better.
iPads help USDA service survey farmers and collect agriculture data across the country.
The USDA is working its way through an ambitious iPad deployment that may come to serve as a model for a range of government agencies within the U.S. and around the world. The challenge was to develop a simple, intuitive, and effective field survey and data collection system.
The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is a division of the USDA that is charged with surveying and reporting agricultural data across the country. NASS operates in all 50 states plus Puerto Rico. With a staff of around 3,000 enumerators NASS conducts thousands of survey each year about agriculture across the country. The service has been operating since the mid-1800s and, until the iPad, it conducted surveys and collected data in pretty much the same way that it had back in the 19th century – with paper forms filled out by hand and mailed to various field offices. Although various technology initiatives have been tried by NASS since the 1980s, none was a successful fit before the iPad.
Some Mac security and Mac management tools already support Mountain Lion, but there are many that haven’t gotten their yet.
Many Mountain Lion apps will function normally under Mountain Lion, but many won’t. Of particuar concern are the various utilities that help keep Mac systems secure, scan for viruses and malware, integrate with enterprise systems in businesses and schools, and dianose and repair problems.
These tools often require much deeper integration with OS X than other apps. That means that developers need to ensure they function as intended and don’t damage any documents, files, OS X system components, or other apps. That can sometimes delay releases of key utilities.
Here’s a list of Mac utilities and enterprise tools that have confirmed Mountain Lion Compatibility
Do BYOD programs save money or cost more? It depends on your company and who you hire to help implement them.
Do bring your own device (BYOD) programs that allow or encourage users to bring their personal iPhones, iPads, and other devices into the workplace reduce costs or do they drive costs up because of the need for mobile management, training, and technical support?
That fundamental question has been the source of a lot of debate, numerous studies, and a lot of sleepless nights for CIOs and IT managers.
The truth is that this is a question that’s difficult, if not impossible, to answer definitively. There are many variables involved in developing and implementing a BYOD policy or program.
Server app is now Apple’s primary OS X Server interface
Apple’s 2007 launch of Leopard Server was the beginning of a new business strategy for the company. Leopard Server included a number of new features – shared calendaring with iCal Server, Apple’s wiki-based collaborative tools, and streamlined Podcast creation and hosting through Podcast Producer were some of the highlights. The biggest new feature, however, was the introduction of a simplified setup assistant and Server Preferences – a utility designed to look and feel similar to System Preferences that enabled easy management of key server features for smaller organizations with limited technical knowledge or resources.
Fast forward nearly five years to today and you can see the focus that Apple introduced in Leopard Server has become the core of Mountain Lion Server. You can also see that many features that used to be OS X Server staples are gone (or at least are being handed their hats and coats). What remains is a very inexpensive but still relatively powerful server OS with a focus on easy setup and management as well as collaboration.