For the longest time, Windows has dominated the operating system market. Even now, most companies have more Windows PCs than Macs, perhaps because Windows is best for enterprise settings. But that doesn’t seem to stop certain companies from having Macs.
Unfortunately, unlike Windows, macOS is not intended to be centrally managed, so it can be pretty tricky to manage a mixed Mac and Windows environment. This leads to the question—does this change how you deploy managed IT services?
Unfortunately, yes, changes will be at hand if that’s the case, especially since there are many challenges within a hybrid Windows/Mac environment.
Main Challenges of Hybrid Windows/Mac Environment
Managing a hybrid Windows/Mac environment is, as previously said, more challenging than when the company only uses Windows or Mac. However, it’s often worth the hassle since hybrid environments tend to be much more efficient than those that rely on only one provider. Either way, here are some of the challenges you’ll face when managing hybrid environments:
- macOS is not centralized
- Standardizing both Mac and Windows can be difficult
- Rolling out the Group Policy will be more complicated
- Computer auditing becomes more challenging
- Macs are much more expensive than Windows
When opting for managed IT services, you, the client, are responsible for preparing the applications or tools they need to start working. Furthermore, the tools may not be completely necessary, but if it helps the managed service provider (MSPs), then there’s no harm in taking the initiative. Since you’re dealing with a hybrid Windows/Mac environment, your approach will be a bit different than usual. Here are a few things to get you started.
1. Implement an Apple Management Application
As previously said, macOS devices aren’t intended to be centrally managed, but if you’re running a company, you need it to be so. One way to accomplish this is by implementing a particular tool—a mobile device management (MDM) application.
A mobile device management application is capable of many things, but its primary purpose is to ensure that all your devices are accounted for. It consists of numerous functions, such as:
- Monitor activities within the devices
- Automatically update all devices included the system
- Control what updates are implemented
- Track the location and status of devices
- Troubleshoot problems occurring with the devices
If you currently don’t have an MDM application, then it’s about time to get one. And since you’re dealing with a hybrid Windows/Mac environment, you might want to get one that supports Mac, or what they might call an Apple MDM. Not only will it help you in the future, it would also help your managed service providers (MSPs).
Another reason to implement an MDM is, hybrid Windows/Mac environments are often easy prey to hackers since the security is often unstable. But won’t be the case if you have a tool that practically monitors activities and troubleshoots problems right off the bat.
2. Take Advantage of Group Policy
Group Policy isn’t something you’ll hear every day, but if your company mostly has Windows computers, you’ll need to know about it sooner or later.
Basically, Group Policy (GPO) is a feature that enables admins to control computer and user accounts within a Windows environment. To simply put, it allows you to manage your Microsoft Windows devices, as opposed to Apple MDMs that manage macOS devices instead.
With that said, if you’re planning on deploying managed IT services in a mixed Windows/Mac environment, you need to take advantage of the Group Policy feature, and here’s why:
- Security: Believe it or not, one of the ways hackers use to breach into a company is by guessing the password of just one employee. Naturally, if the password is simple, guessing it would be a piece of cake. Group Policy allows the admin to establish the structure of passwords. So, for example, you can require your employees to have a password that consists of more than six characters and has at least one special character.
- Automatic Updates: GPOs are also capable of deploying security patches and operating system updates automatically to all devices included in the system.
- Management: It’s also possible to use GPOs as a means to add new users into the domain, so if there are new hires, you can easily standardize their devices by joining their device to your company system’s domain.
In short, GPOs are capable of strengthening the security of your company, implementing automatic updates, and standardizing your computers. Speaking of standardizing, it’s worth noting that computers must be standardized before they can be centrally managed.
3. Standardize Your Computers
Standardization, when it comes to computers, refers to the process of making all technologies and processes within a system compatible with each other. For instance, if a company deals with a Windows environment, all its applications must be Windows-compatible. Standardizing your system is crucial since it turns most operations a lot easier, and that’s something your MSPs will appreciate.
On that note, working with both Mac and Windows can be pretty challenging to standardize them since you need to find programs that are compatible with both operating systems. One way to solve this problem is by implementing open-source programs seeing that they most likely support both Mac and Windows.
4. Invest in Multi-Site Audit Tools
Computer auditing is the process of determining if a computer system is properly doing its job or not. By auditing a computer system, you’re making sure it safeguards assets, maintains data integrity, uses resources efficiently, and more. Computer audits will also be one of your managed IT service provider’s responsibilities, so you should take account of this aspect as well.
Usually, when performing a computer audit, you need to use an audit tool that works on your operating systems. But in the case of hybrid Windows/Mac environments, you’ll need a multi-site audit tool. If you still don’t have such a tool, consider investing in one as it can be beneficial to managed IT service providers.
5. Consider Open-Source Update Servers
As you may already know, it’s important to apply security patches and software updates to a computer regularly. The problem is that if you’re an organization, all the employees must apply the same patches. Unfortunately, there’s no built-in update feature that allows you to apply updates on all computers within a system. So, as always, you have to make use of a third-party update server. Some examples include Jamf and Reposado. With these platforms, you can manage updates on any operating system, including Windows and Mac.
Managed IT services have become a major topic in many industries over the past few years. It saves you time, effort, and, surprisingly, even money. However, while it means handing over the responsibility to a third-party agency, it’s a good idea to help them in your own ways, and what better way to do that than by helping them adopt to your hybrid Mac/Windows environment.