Apple in the Enterprise – What is needed?
It’s been a frustrating few years for business and enterprise using Apple Mac technology. But Apple has recently got Mac innovation back on track with the iMac Pro and AFPS after a long period of stagnation.
Apple made a number of changes and introduced new products with partial success. This article explores some of these areas in relation to what enterprise really need for their Mac estates.
Apple Filing Protocol (AFP)
Apple deprecated their AFP file sharing protocol in 2013 and advised Mac users to migrate to use Server Message Block (SMB) file sharing. After 4 years many enterprises still use AFP due to ongoing issues with Apple implementation of SMB. This is explained in a previous article:- macOS and SMB File Sharing
Enterprise need Apple to provide better documentation on their SMB implementation, including best practise advise, a roadmap for compatibility with SMB 3.1 and future versions.
Apple have been increasing prices on a yearly basis. It’s now at a point where an equivalent spec’d iMac 21in can cost nearly twice as much as a business PC from Dell or Lenovo. Most PC’s purchased by enterprise will have solid state flash disks (SSD), whereas Apple still supply the iMac 21in with a legacy 5400K SATA disk. Upgrade to a fusion drive, but this also uses a 5400K disk. Upgrade to a SSD, but then extreme cost kicks in.
Enterprise need Apple to standardise on current components without charging a premium.
New MacBook Pro
Since its introduction, the retina Apple MacBook Pro 15in has been popular with creatives, web developers and music producers. It outperformed the Windows equivalent and had numerous connection ports.
Apple recently replaced the Apple MacBook Pro 15in adding a touch bar and removed all the communications ports in favour of 4x USB-C (thunderbolt 3) ports. While Apple are pushing innovation, they have made it difficult to use this laptop without additional adaptors or a USB-C docks.
USB-C is the way forward and there is no turning back. Apple could reduce the cost of adaptors (currently £69 for a single USB-3 and HDMI) and provide their own USB-C dock or multi-port adaptor (2x USB-3, 1x HDMI & 1x Ethernet).
As for the Apple touch bar, the general view from peers is that it’s a gimmick adding unnecessary expense. Hence the recommendation here is for Apple to offer all specs with and without the touch bar.
Again, the price increases have already been mentioned. This is important because PC laptops with Windows 10 have upped the game, with the likes of the Dell XPS for Business and Dell Precision Mobile. The choice of desirable high end laptops use to be limited, but now there’s more choice.
macOS High Sierra
Most of the changes brought by macOS 10.13 have been positive, but there has been a problem with the implementation. There have been reports of issues upgrading due to a new requirement for firmware updates that are downloaded during the upgrade.
We’ve had the embarrassing root security bug, where Apple provided an update that broke file sharing, so had to release a subsequent update.
Apple no longer recommend or support monolithic system imaging when upgrading or updating macOS. This together with the requirement for firmware updates based on individual Mac model makes large-scale upgrades of macOS 10.13 problematic. In which, there is no established upgrade process yet.
Enterprise need Apple to provide stability and workable processes for managing large Mac deployments.
Apple Older iPhone Slowdown
Although not related to Macs, the iPhone slowdown saga was a major misjudgement. Apple have now apologised for deliberately slowing down some ageing iPhone models. They plan to replace batteries for less and issue software so battery health is monitored.
This is an important step by Apple as enterprise tend to keep mobile devices until they break. So some employees could have an iPhone which is 3 or more years old.