MSPs need to come to terms with Apple

Posted by Mike Vizard on Dec 15, 2015 10:12:02 AM

Apple device supportLike it or not, managed service providers are being asked to manage all manner of Apple devices these days, and that’s both a blessing and a curse. The proliferation of Apple devices inside many organizations prompts them to look for outside help to manage increasingly complex IT environments. However, managing Apple devices generally requires a dedicated platform, which increases the cost of delivering managed services.

But, a new survey makes it clear that MSPs will have to come to terms with Apple. In the survey conducted by JAMF Software, a provider of management software for Apple systems and devices, 67 percent of the 1,300 IT professionals surveyed said that Macintosh systems will continue to cut into Windows PC market share for at least the next three years.

A full 96 percent of the respondents said their organization already supports Macs, 81 percent said they support the Apple iPad, and 84 percent said they support the Apple iPhone. The primary reason given for supporting the Mac was user preference (81 percent). But, 64 percent said the Mac was easier to maintain, and 75 percent said the Mac provided security advantages over Windows.

Meanwhile, in its most recent fourth quarter earnings statement, Apple claimed that each Mac deployed by IBM is saving the company $270 compared to a traditional PC, thanks to reduced support cost and better residual values.

Management challenges

Whatever the reason, it’s clear that the Mac and other Apple devices aren't going away. Naturally, many IT organizations attempt to manage Macs using their existing management tools, but most of those tools were designed to manage Windows machines. As a result, many IT organizations wind up having to deploy two separate management frameworks for Windows and Macs once the size of the Mac population in their environment reaches a critical mass.

Of course, that’s also about the same time many organizations start to think about relying more on an external service provider to handle an IT environment that is becoming more challenging to manage. After all, it’s not just Apple systems and devices that need to be managed. There are now multiple flavors of Windows and the Google Android operating system to contend with every day.

Profitability pitfalls

The challenge is that MSPs need to find some way to manage all that desktop diversity while remaining profitable. Most end customers don’t consider the complexity of supporting multiple types of desktops when it comes to the cost of providing a managed service. What they do appreciate, however, is a superior support experience.

For that reason, most MSPs will be better off deploying separate management frameworks for Apple and Windows systems even though the cost of delivering that service will be substantially higher. That might not sit well with every MSP. But, when all is said and done it’s always better to have satisfied customers at a lower margin than it is to have a lot of dissatisfied customers that always have an eye out looking for a different MSP to support them regardless of the level of complexity involved.

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Topics: IT Services Trends

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