White Paper: Best Practices for Managing Macs

February 3, 2008

Article by: Apple

One of the greatest challenges facing any institution is the maintenance of a large number of computer systems. By instituting well-considered policies and taking advantage of the easy-to-use tools available today managing client systems can be simple and effective.

When properly performed lifecycle management—from the loading dock to the recycler—maximizes your return on investment keeps your users more productive and protects the security of your computer systems and your enterprise data. What’s more all of these goals can be achieved while reducing the load on IT staff.

In general client management involves the following steps:
Prepare. Each enterprise needs to determine the ideal workstation configuration (or different configurations for different purposes) and create the appropriate master disk image(s) ready to use when new systems are delivered. Also to ensure that workstations are tracked through their entire lifecycles a system needs to be in place to log them into inventory as soon as they arrive.

Deploy. When a new computer arrives it is not yet ready to be deployed into a large enterprise. The operating system is in a default state no local user accounts have been created and no organization-specific applications have been loaded. The deployment phase of the client lifecycle should fully configure the workstation with the proper
settings and applications for its specific work environment—with minimal IT effort.

Maintain. Once the computer has been deployed it is critical to keep its operating system and applications up to date. Without proper patch management you cannot keep your systems consistent or secure.
Control and monitor. A major aspect of client management is controlling what users are allowed to do and monitoring the state and use of computers.

Retire. Every computer reaches an age where replacing it is less expensive than maintaining it. Before that point however many institutions “cascade” older hardware to less demanding users and roles. Using client management tools you can maintain a hardware inventory that will help you get the most out of each workstation before
it finally needs to be retired.

The attached paper discusses each of these steps in more detail with an emphasis on best practices for managing Mac computers. Apple and other vendors offer tools that can address every stage of the Mac lifecycle. These tools allow organizations to smoothly integrate Mac systems into their networks and client management efforts.