Getting the Mac shop in order

Getting the Mac shop in order. This week in my InfoWorld column, I write about dealing with IT weaknesses with “intelligent urgency.” In this case, after some months of struggling with a somewhat painful-to-manage Mac environment, we're implementing a managed environment that should make things a lot easier moving forward — but not without significant user unrest in the process.

If you’ve been CTO at the same company for a few years, things ought to be running fairly smoothly. All major systems should be stable, and overall uptime should be solid. Your sys admins’ pagers and cell phones should be mostly silent through the night. You’ve probably dispensed with what I call “wasted urgency” in your IT organization — the frenetic activity so often wrongly conflated with actual forward movement toward problem solving.

Once your IT operation is clicking, a more intelligent urgency should ultimately take hold, leaving your team in a position to get ahead of the curve by continually refining IT infrastructure until it’s bulletproof. A period of hard-earned, relative calm is the best time to fill nagging IT gaps. But how do you identify and prioritize them, establish a vision for improvement, and then execute properly?

Read on for how we finally saw the light and decided to approach our Mac environment like our other OS environments — by using best-of-breed tools that make management less of a headache. If OS X turned you into an Apple fan like me, be sure to take a look at tools like Apple Remote Desktop and definitely get a copy of OS X Server. Even if you only have a handful of Macs on your network, it's worth it.

Incidentally, as I was doing my obligatory linking to products in this post, I went to the Apple site and noticed that it appears that Remote Desktop 2.0 was released today. We've been using the 1.x version (which seemed quite good). I can't speak for 2.0, but the simple fact that you can run a “software difference report” on two machines with Remote Desktop 1.x is worth the price of admission — and it does a lot more than that. Stay tuned for more tales of our implementation.  [Chad Dickerson]

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