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The long road behind us, and the short road ahead: New Solutions to Mac Management make life easier for Higher Education IT Pros

Last year I was fortunate enough to attend the Microsoft Management Summit out in sunny Las Vegas, NV. Even better, it wasn’t my first year attending, and I got to go my second time with a far better idea of what I was getting myself ready to learn and absorb from the numerous Microsoft professionals, and customers, worldwide.

The sun was shining, the food was great, and the talks were enlightening, but the moment that sticks out most to me was during a brief break between sessions. I was making some phone calls in a corner near one of the power plugs that everyone huddled around, when I couldn’t help but overhear the conversation that another Systems Engineer was having with her employer.

“No, we can’t do that yet… no, not that either. Yes, yes, you’re right, we should be able to do that… alright, I’ll look into it.” She let out one of the biggest sighs I’ve ever heard. I was intrigued and, as it turns out, she was in the same predicament that I was – higher education environments often consist of more than 50% OS X machines and there was no good way to manage them at all. Her boss was giving her all these things that needed to be done to their Mac endpoints and couldn’t wait any longer. And yet I understood her situation; there just weren’t any good products out there able to do what management wanted done with Macs. The situation wasn’t new.

Non-Windows machines in corporate and educational environments aren’t a recent addition, but the security concerns and management requirements of recent years are far more pressing than in the past. Disk encryption, configuration management, VPN access and configuration, and inventory are now critical as organizations move an increasing number of sensitive operations away from PC endpoints and onto ANY endpoint. Combine that with ballooning Mac purchases - almost 80% of our incoming students now own an Apple computer and faculty and staff request them over PCs because they look ‘cooler’ and more up to date - and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

It wasn’t until the MMS vendor showcase later that day that I stumbled upon the Parallels booth. I’ll be honest, I was confused as to what a company that I had traditionally associated with Apple machines was doing at a Microsoft conference, but it soon became clear that Parallels’ expertise in the OS X realm was lending itself to the Windows world. It only took a quick demo of Parallels Mac Management before I knew that this would be a product that my manager, as well as our engineers and technicians, would love. Plugging into our existing System Center Configuration Manager system, PMM, as it’s often abbreviated, enabled us to manage our Macs like we do our PCs and from the same, consistent interface.

We contacted Parallels for a demo, ended up purchasing it shortly thereafter, and have now gone on to implement it for our OS X systems, bringing them into our Active Directory environment and PMM management system at the same time. We were able to go from having 100% of our Apple machines as unmanaged devices to having the potential to have 100% fully managed in an easy-to-administer, non-intrusive system. We’ve only just begun to roll things in, but the product has been working excellently and the response from the Parallels product team to various feature requests and bug reports has been prompt and thorough.

It’s still early, but so far we’ve been able to satisfy all of our organizational goals for Mac system configuration, inventory and management. Not to mention we’ve done it in less time and with less effort than we ever expected. Now others like me no longer have to sigh when our bosses ask, “So, how can we manage our Macs?” Now that’s progress!


Parallels Solutions for Business help IT Pros worldwide support Macs in their cross-platform environments.  To learn more about Parallels Desktop for Mac Enterprise Edition or Parallels Mac Management, click here and one of our Enterprise Sales Account Managers will be happy to help.

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