The march of Macs into the enterprise: Demand is on the increase

We talk to some players in the Apple device management game


MacAD No, it isn't an April Fool's joke we forgot to publish. The Register* actually made it to a recent in-person Apple event: the 2022 Mac Administrator and Developer conference, MacAD. Apple, it seems, may be getting ever more serious about the enterprise.

The theme of the event - with actual humans in the Brighton seafront venue on the south coast of England - was to highlight the creeping influx of Apple kit into enterprise spaces, and included research claiming that letting users pick their own gear made for, frankly, happier employees. Especially when that gear is emblazoned with an Apple logo.

Certainly, the last two years have seen more workers putting in the hours at home and wondering why their home hardware was frequently superior to what was foisted on them by employers. However, despite the many and varied benefits of Apple silicon, particularly in the security arena, that same security can cause headaches for the unwary.

A case in point is JumpCloud, a firm that specializes in patch management on Apple and other platforms (including Windows and Linux.)

Apple product manager at JumpCloud, Tom Bridge, explained the problem: "In some ways," he said, "the Apple Silicon experience is actually a lot better for us. In some ways it's slightly worse."

"The most important thing that you need to recognise with Apple Silicon," he added, "is that to change the security settings of the system you have to have a disk owner's permission."

The upshot is that on a JumpCloud-managed system, the user will be gently nudged (with a soon to be configurable message) that, maybe it's time to get those updates done? An improvement on a basic password prompt "which no one should trust.. ever," said Bridge, "because you don't know who's providing that."

Apple, of course, is very keen to keep users up to date. Although the firm is less than clear with regard to when its operating systems drop out of support, as demonstrated by Bridge during his talk at the conference.

As such, the preferred path is to keep up to date with the latest and greatest of whatever your hardware supports; this is a challenge for IT administrators for sure, certainly ones used to the clarity of the Microsoft approach and the company's update engine.

That said, the security enabled by Apple Silicon is enviable. "There's no question that that system is entirely secure," said Bridge.

"You can take this [an Apple Silicon device] home, pull off the bottom plate, take out the flash drive, and what you're going to see is a bunch of random bits because all of the storage controller stuff is in the M1."

Microsoft will point to its Pluton tech or its insistence on TPM for Windows 11, but the Apple approach is undoubtedly impressive, particularly considering its eventual application over the entire range as Intel-based Mac hardware falls by the wayside.

JumpCloud is not the only game in town as far as Apple device management is concerned.

The Register spoke to the newly minted Kandji EMEA general manager (and head of Sales) Richard Ainley, who told us "demand is definitely on the increase."

Kandji, an Apple-only device management platform, recently commissioned a study that showed a surge in requests for Apple products, although few workers actually had much in the way of choice with regard to what IT gave them.

According to Kandji's figures, the numbers are particularly high for workers between the ages of 18 and 24. Nearly a third of employees considered getting some Apple equipment as a factor in their acceptance of a job offer – which is something to consider as The Great Resignation rumbles on.

While Kandji is Apple-only, the approach taken by JumpCloud and its ilk straddles both worlds as Administrators deal with mixed fleets and the inherent challenges posed by the additional security measures lurking with Apple Silicon systems.

"We find that our customers do best when they've got multiple platforms on JumpCloud," said Bridge. "Corporate choice programmes are a big deal, in terms of employees getting to choose what they bring to the job."

"We see the research that comes out of all these things; not only are people 15 per cent less likely to leave their company when they get to choose what they work with, they were 15 per cent better on their performance reviews.

"For most of our people, if I can make them 15 per cent better by letting them choose what they brought to work every day? Whether that was one of these [a Mac] or a Windows machine or a Linux box? Hell yeah, I'll take that trade any day of the week."

We'd like to give you Apple's take on all this, but media were not permitted to be present when the company dispensed its pearls of wisdom.

And while none of the vendors sharing their thoughts on managing Apple devices in the enterprise said it, one can't help but wonder if the company's "walled garden" approach and secretive nature might also extend to its enterprise decision making.

No matter how much employees might clamor for tech gear covered with the company's famous branding. ®

* You can read about our prior attempts to attend consumer hardware launch events here.


Other stories you might like

  • Despite 'key' partnership with AWS, Meta taps up Microsoft Azure for AI work
    Someone got Zuck'd over

    Meta’s AI business unit set up shop in Microsoft Azure this week and announced a strategic partnership it says will advance PyTorch development on the public cloud.

    The deal [PDF] will see Mark Zuckerberg’s umbrella company deploy machine-learning workloads on thousands of Nvidia GPUs running in Azure. While a win for Microsoft, the partnership calls in to question just how strong Meta’s commitment to Amazon Web Services (AWS) really is.

    Back in those long-gone days of December, Meta named AWS as its “key long-term strategic cloud provider." As part of that, Meta promised that if it bought any companies that used AWS, it would continue to support their use of Amazon's cloud, rather than force them off into its own private datacenters. The pact also included a vow to expand Meta’s consumption of Amazon’s cloud-based compute, storage, database, and security services.

    Continue reading
  • Atos pushes out HPC cloud services based on Nimbix tech
    Moore's Law got you down? Throw everything at the problem! Quantum, AI, cloud...

    IT services biz Atos has introduced a suite of cloud-based high-performance computing (HPC) services, based around technology gained from its purchase of cloud provider Nimbix last year.

    The Nimbix Supercomputing Suite is described by Atos as a set of flexible and secure HPC solutions available as a service. It includes access to HPC, AI, and quantum computing resources, according to the services company.

    In addition to the existing Nimbix HPC products, the updated portfolio includes a new federated supercomputing-as-a-service platform and a dedicated bare-metal service based on Atos BullSequana supercomputer hardware.

    Continue reading
  • In record year for vulnerabilities, Microsoft actually had fewer
    Occasional gaping hole and overprivileged users still blight the Beast of Redmond

    Despite a record number of publicly disclosed security flaws in 2021, Microsoft managed to improve its stats, according to research from BeyondTrust.

    Figures from the National Vulnerability Database (NVD) of the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) show last year broke all records for security vulnerabilities. By December, according to pentester Redscan, 18,439 were recorded. That's an average of more than 50 flaws a day.

    However just 1,212 vulnerabilities were reported in Microsoft products last year, said BeyondTrust, a 5 percent drop on the previous year. In addition, critical vulnerabilities in the software (those with a CVSS score of 9 or more) plunged 47 percent, with the drop in Windows Server specifically down 50 percent. There was bad news for Internet Explorer and Edge vulnerabilities, though: they were up 280 percent on the prior year, with 349 flaws spotted in 2021.

    Continue reading
  • ServiceNow takes aim at procurement pain points
    Purchasing teams are a bit like help desks – always being asked to answer dumb or inappropriate questions

    ServiceNow's efforts to expand into more industries will soon include a Procurement Service Management product.

    This is not a dedicated application – ServiceNow has occasionally flirted with templates for its platform that come very close to being apps. Instead it stays close to the company's core of providing workflows that put the right jobs in the right hands, and make sure they get done. In this case, it will do so by tickling ERP and dedicated procurement applications, using tech ServiceNow acquired along with a company called Gekkobrain in 2021.

    The company believes it can play to its strengths with procurements via a single, centralized buying team.

    Continue reading
  • HPE, Cerebras build AI supercomputer for scientific research
    Wafer madness hits the LRZ in HPE Superdome supercomputer wrapper

    HPE and Cerebras Systems have built a new AI supercomputer in Munich, Germany, pairing a HPE Superdome Flex with the AI accelerator technology from Cerebras for use by the scientific and engineering community.

    The new system, created for the Leibniz Supercomputing Center (LRZ) in Munich, is being deployed to meet the current and expected future compute needs of researchers, including larger deep learning neural network models and the emergence of multi-modal problems that involve multiple data types such as images and speech, according to Laura Schulz, LRZ's head of Strategic Developments and Partnerships.

    "We're seeing an increase in large data volumes coming at us that need more and more processing, and models that are taking months to train, we want to be able to speed that up," Schulz said.

    Continue reading
  • We have bigger targets than beating Oracle, say open source DB pioneers
    Advocates for MySQL and PostgreSQL see broader future for movement they helped create

    MySQL pioneer Peter Zaitsev, an early employee of MySQL AB under the original open source database author Michael "Monty" Widenius, once found it easy to identify the enemy.

    "In the early days of MySQL AB, we were there to get Oracle's ass. Our CEO Mårten Mickos was always telling us how we were going to get out there and replace all those Oracle database installations," Zaitsev told The Register.

    Speaking at Percona Live, the open source database event hosted by the services company Zaitsev founded in 2006 and runs as chief exec, he said that situation had changed since Oracle ended up owning MySQL in 2010. This was as a consequence of its acquisition that year of Sun Microsystems, which had bought MySQL AB just two years earlier.

    Continue reading
  • Beijing needs the ability to 'destroy' Starlink, say Chinese researchers
    Paper authors warn Elon Musk's 2,400 machines could be used offensively

    An egghead at the Beijing Institute of Tracking and Telecommunications, writing in a peer-reviewed domestic journal, has advocated for Chinese military capability to take out Starlink satellites on the grounds of national security.

    According to the South China Morning Post, lead author Ren Yuanzhen and colleagues advocated in Modern Defence Technology not only for China to develop anti-satellite capabilities, but also to have a surveillance system that could monitor and track all satellites in Starlink's constellation.

    "A combination of soft and hard kill methods should be adopted to make some Starlink satellites lose their functions and destroy the constellation's operating system," the Chinese boffins reportedly said, estimating that data transmission speeds of stealth fighter jets and US military drones could increase by a factor of 100 through a Musk machine connection.

    Continue reading
  • How to explain what an API is – and why they matter
    Some of us have used them for decades, some are seeing them for the first time on marketing slides

    Systems Approach Explaining what an API is can be surprisingly difficult.

    It's striking to remember that they have been around for about as long as we've had programming languages, and that while the "API economy" might be a relatively recent term, APIs have been enabling innovation for decades. But how to best describe them to someone for whom application programming interfaces mean little or nothing?

    I like this short video from Martin Casado, embedded below, which starts with the analogy of building cars. In the very early days, car manufacturers were vertically integrated businesses, essentially starting from iron ore and coal to make steel all the way through to producing the parts and then the assembled vehicle. As the business matured and grew in size, car manufacturers were able to buy components built by others, and entire companies could be created around supplying just a single component, such as a spring.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022