Hard to believe it's been 2 years since the below email was written which put into motion perhaps the most significant IT transition at GCC to date. Up to this point, TechOps didn't officially support macs. Sure we'd help the few mac users on staff as best we could, but it was best effort only and you were not assigned a mac unless your job/software required it.
Fast forward two years later and we've watched the number of staff using the mac platform increase to almost 70% and our overall computer ratio shift to 52% macs (out of 150ish machines). And we've not started any computer refreshes yet in 2013, so the above stats will shift soon to reflect even higher ratios of fruit :-)
As people have heard about our transition, I often get asked what started the wheel rolling? Well, it's a culmination of many variables and discussions around how to address the consumerization of IT for our organization...which lead to the email you'll find below. This email is thus the actual catalyst that got us to where we are today.
Keep in mind this is now a hair over 2 years old and what works in our environment may not work in yours...
Date: Friday, March 25, 2011 2:54 PM
To: Tim Stevens, Kem Meyer
Subject: GCC laptop proposal draft
Tim/Kem [For those that don't know. Tim Stevens is our Executive Pastor, Kem Meyer is my boss...both of them were long time windows power users with zero mac experience]
Here's my working draft for upcoming computer refreshes at GCC … it's a work in progress. Kem suggested I get what I've got so far in front of you both to help field any questions that may pop up as new test computers get rolled out.
Also note I'm leaving out whatever macs that have been bought buy Arts, GSM, etc since those were not TechOps purchases.
As you probably are aware, we have not purchased any new desktop computers in 5+ years nor any new laptops in 3+ years. This means everything is now outside of warranty support. If there's a hardware issue, we have limited options for repair, which usually includes buying parts of ebay and doing surgery to attempt extended life for the device. It works, but is not optimal :)
So taking the above into account, along with an emphasis on anywhere/anytime access from The New Normal project and our own CommWebTechOps 2011 vision and of course other variables, here's what I'm proposing over the next 2 years…
Transitioning to an all-mobile hardware platform for end users. No more desktops unless it makes sense for a specific job role/function.
- Laptops require far less power than desktops plus they'll be traveling home with users instead of being left on in the office overnight. This saves GCC not only electrical costs, but also cooling.
- Staff office moves will be no biggie if TechOps doesn't have to move everyone's computers around! w00t!
- Studies show increased worker productivity for mobile workers. You guys already get this since I bet you'd rather die than give up your laptops for a desktop ;-)
- The lines between work and personal continue to blur. Staff keep buying personal laptops and bringing them to us asking to make them able to do basic office/email functions. Might as well provide them with something that can serve their needs for work and personal while allowing TechOps to keep things standardized which helps everyone in the long run.
- Laptops are more much more expensive to purchase than desktops
- Laptops require battery replacements over time
- Laptops are more prone to accidents
- Laptops see significantly more wear-n-tear
In my mind there's no doubt moving to laptops makes sense for the staff culture at GCC and the Pros far outweigh the cons.
I've been thinking about moving this direction for more than a year. Just haven't had any $ to do so until this year. I've also talked with other churches that have made the transition toward all mobile…most notably my pals over at LifeChurch.tv so this isn't really a new idea for me. It's been simmering for a long while :)
Perhaps the more radical shift is giving users the option of mac or windows. We're finally in a place where we have necessary tools and know-how to adequately support mac users, helped in huge part by the latest mac Outlook2011 client. It's still not as good as Outlook2010 for windows, but it's finally a viable solution. We also now have software (CrashplanProE), which will allow enterprise class backups for macs – another huge stumbling block for us supporting macs in the past, as timemachine is NOT an enterprise solution.
- In talking with other churches supporting dual platform most indicate a far lower % of support needs from their mac users. For sure many variables are hidden in that data as to why, but data still shows that macs typically require less load on IT staff. Of course we don't see a lot of support needs from our windows users either.
- Over 40 of our staff have iPhones and thus use iTunes and apps. iTunes works much better on the mac OS (I'm sure by design). Keeping all devices under one 'ecosystem' simplifies life for the end user as well as IT.
- Apple is 'sexy' and I think our younger staff gravitates toward that. Plus I guess it could be seen as lending some credibility to our staff being in tune with the culture?
- More freedom/flexibility with OSX operation system fueled further by the recent addition of the app store for macs.
- So far mac OS isn't a big enough target for virus/malware writers.
- All the fanatic apple users making cracks about "oh, you finally seen the light?" and other such fanboi comments that make me wanna hurl then PUNCH them with my fist.
- Macs are more expensive than similar equipped Dell…it's gotten closer over the past few years, but still there's a gap.
- Apple has no "real" enterprise class support nor accidental damage coverage. I am looking at 3rd party options for accidental coverage.
- Troubleshooting issues on mac is much harder.
- When it becomes financially beneficial, virus writers will go after macs. When that happens we'll have to find ways to best protect macs.
Transition plan of attack
Current laptop users would be first in line to get replacements. Then their current hardware would be trickled down to staff currently w/o laptops with hopefully enough spares to take care of break-fix needs until next year when they'd get option of something new.
I have $X earmarked in my budget for laptops. Currently proposing each staff be "earmarked" up to $2100 for purchase of a new Dell Latitude E series or Macbook when their time for refresh comes due. Anything additional they'd like (higher rez screen, faster/bigger hard drive, accessories, etc) above $2100 would be charged to their dept. The plan is also that this will be their laptop for at least 3 years and more likely 5 depending on role.
Staff interested in switching to a mac would need their supervisor to sign off that their job role doesn't require windows specific software. We will not allow nor support the loading of bootcamp, parallels, or vmware on a mac so user can run a virtual windows session. If you need windows to do your job then you need a Dell. Again, thanks to my friends at other churches I have copies of the paperwork they have staff/supervisors sign that spells all this out :)
My guess is that, given the choice, most staff will opt for a mac and that in 2 years GCC will be mostly mac laptops. Windows servers and such will still be at the core of the server infrastructure, but clients will be predominately mac.
I've spent a lot of brain cycles over the past year trying to navigate this "consumerization of IT" trend that continues to grow and I strongly feel the above proposal will help our staff be more productive and happy in the long run. Because this is such a radical shift for us I'm planning to do a big blog post to point people to that have questions.
And Tim, although your laptop isn't super old, I'd be more than happy to put you in our coming mac Guinea Pig testing group if that would help you. I think you're very much like me in that I very much dislike being labeled as a "mac user" just because of all the baggage/crap it carries.
So there ya have draft proposal version 1.
Look forward to your feedback and questions.
Stay tuned for Part 2 ... Guinea Pig testing begins
I've also started a discussion thread for this blog series here over on the Church IT Network forum
update: Part 2 added
update: Part 3 added
update: Part 4 added
update: Part 5 added
update: Part 6 added