The Haberdashers’ Aske’s Federation is a multi-academy trust with eight schools in southeast London. Around 600 employees work to inspire and support the 5,000 students so they can develop their full potential. System administrator Ian North is one of these staff members. Along with his colleagues from IT departments in each of the schools, Ian is responsible for the smooth operation and security of the Federation’s digital infrastructure. This includes the 2,500 Windows and Mac® computers used every day by students and staff members.
The Starting Point
The Federation faced a problem: how to optimize management of all desktop computers in a way that enabled asset management, software distribution, remote maintenance, license monitoring, and reporting—and how to do it the same way for both Windows and Mac computers from one centralized point of control.
The computer management system in use—a solution specifically designed for educational establishments—lacked these capabilities, and it was unable to manage Mac computers at all. As a first step, the system was replaced with Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM). The features offered by the Microsoft solution were considerable: centralized 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 of this could be achieved from a single console. This resulted in vast efficiency gains—at least when administering the 2,500 or so Windows devices.
The Federation has around 200 Mac devices spread across all of its sites. This minority was causing a disproportional amount of work and effort for Ian and his IT colleagues. Before deploying SCCM, these Mac computers 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, only some of whom had local administrator rights. The devices managed by the free solutions were inconsistently managed with some parts working and others not.
Microsoft SCCM incorporates native basic functionality for managing Mac computers, 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 OS 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 Parallels® Mac Management for Microsoft® SCCM, a plug-in that enhances SCCM’s functionality and enables it to efficiently manage both PCs and Mac computers from one central user interface. 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 enrollment, device registration via the Apple Device Enrollment Program (DEP), hardware and software asset management, software metering, macOS® patch management, and many other essential features required for effective endpoint device management.
Worst of all, SCCM doesn’t have the facility for users to perform operations in self-service within a managed environment; if present, this 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!”
“The benefits of having a single, powerful administration interface for both Windows and Mac computers are simply huge.”
According to Ian, “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 Mac devices 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 DEP into version 6.0 of Parallels Mac Management, so Ian now has additional functionality available to him that should take his satisfaction to an even higher level. Administrators can set up and equip new Mac devices to be deployed with all the configurations and software packages needed for their specific intended use—without ever touching them. An essential part of the Apple Business Customer Initiative, Apple DEP not only makes work more efficient 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 realize their ambitious vision.