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When your schools’ computer systems operate on both Macs and PCs, IT management can be an issue.
London-based Haberdashers’ Aske's Federation needed a solution to optimise the IT management of all desktop computers in order to enable asset management, software distribution, remote maintenance, license monitoring and reporting in the same way for both Windows and Mac computers from one centralised point of control.
Thanks to Parallels Mac Management, Haberdashers’ IT teams can now monitor the entire Mac Hardware and Software inventory.
They can attach existing and new Macs to the network and install software, updates and scripts automatically and provide selected applications in a self-service portal for users.
They are now able to ensure observance of the company’s compliance requirements by simply rolling out macOS configuration profiles.
The Haberdashers’ Aske’s Federation is a Multi-Academy Trust with eight schools in South East London. Around 600 employees work to inspire and support the 5000 students in such a way that they can develop their full potential. Ian North is one of these staff members – in his role as a system administrator, along with his colleagues from the IT departments in each of the schools, he is responsible for the smooth operation and security of the Federation's digital infrastructure. This includes the 2500 Windows computers and Macs used every day by students and staff members.
The Federation faced a problem on how to optimise IT management all desktop computers in a way to enable asset management, software distribution, remote maintenance, license monitoring and reporting in the same way for both Windows and Mac computers from one centralised point of control.
The computer management system in use until then, a solution specifically designed for educational establishments, lacked these capabilities and it was unable to manage Macs at all. As a first step, it was replaced with Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM).
The features offered by the Microsoft solution were considerable: Centralised rollout and provisioning of application software, operating systems, updates, device management, streamlined compliance management, integrity monitoring of clients connected to the corporate network, comprehensive asset management, reporting functionality and more, all from a single console. All of this made for vast gains in efficiency, at least when administering the 2500 or so Windows devices.
The Federation has around 200 Macs spread across all of its sites. This minority of machines were causing a disproportional amount of work and effort for Ian and his IT colleagues. Before deploying SCCM, these Macs were either poorly managed using a variety of free solutions or they were completely unmanaged.
The well-being of the unmanaged devices depended on the carefulness and know-how of their respective users, some of those having local administrator rights and others not. The devices managed by the free solutions were inconsistently managed with some parts working, others not.
SCCM incorporates native basic functionality for managing Macs so installing this functionality meant that the IT teams no longer needed to visit each individual Mac to install a new piece of software or an operating system update. But this was still a long way from integrating Apple devices into the IT system management in a comprehensive way.
In one of Ian’s prior employments, he had gained in-depth insight into the Parallels solution, a plug-in that enhances the SCCM's functionality, enabling it to manage both PCs and Macs via one central user interface in an efficient way.
Due the effectiveness of the solution, Ian wanted to implement it at the Federation. "As powerful as Configuration Manager is, the native Mac management facilities built into it lack key features such as Operating system deployment (OSD), software enrolment and device registration via Apple DEP, hardware and software asset management, software metering, macOS patch management and many other essential features required for effective endpoint device management,” he said.
“Worst of all, SCCM doesn’t have the facility for users to perform operations in self-service within a managed environment which if present, would mean significant load relief for the IT department. I was invited to evaluate the Parallels Mac Management plugin and was instantly impressed with the additional features that it offered over the native solution.
“Deploying Parallels Mac Management under my direction went extremely smoothly so it was quite clear to me that the Parallels solution would work well for the Haberdashers’ Aske’s Federation as well. The Federation IT Services Manager supported my plan in every respect. The benefits of having a single, powerful administration interface for both Windows and Mac computers are simply huge!"
“Our Mac users are oblivious of the management solution running in the background and enjoy working on computers which are efficiently and effectively managed, increasing their productivity. Thanks to Parallels Mac Management, the IT teams can always monitor our entire Mac Hardware and Software inventory as well as the current user logins.
“We can attach existing and new Macs to the network using a fully automated procedure. We can install software, updates and scripts automatically and provide selected applications in a self-service portal for users to install on their own account. We can now ensure observance of our compliance requirements, which previously was a real problem, by simply rolling out macOS configuration profiles."
Parallels integrated the Apple Device Enrolment Program (DEP) into release v6.0 of their Mac Management application so Ian has additional functionality available to him that should take his satisfaction to an even higher level: Administrators can set up and equip new Macs to be deployed with all the configurations and software packages needed for their specific intended use without ever touching them. An essential part of Apple's Business Customer Initiative, DEP not only makes for more efficient work in large enterprises; in its role as a new Parallels Mac Management feature, it also supports Ian’s effort to provide the Haberdashers’ Aske’s Federation with the best possible platform to realise their ambitious vision.
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