Jun 14 2023

How to Manage Mixed Mac and Windows Work Environments

As small businesses manage these mixed-platform environments, they should keep in mind spending, staffing and solutions.

While devices running on Microsoft’s Windows operating system have typically dominated workplace environments, recent market shifts have seen an uptick in the adoption of Apple products, including Mac computers. As Computerworld reports, Mac laptop use rose sharply during the pandemic, climbing 63 percent. This trend has persisted, creating business environments where mixed Mac and Windows deployments have become common.

The issue? Effective management. Often, IT departments lack the appropriate resources to make this complex situation work smoothly. Here’s how small businesses can better manage the mix. 

DISCOVER: Click below to discover BizTech's 2023 list of small business IT influencers.

The Management Challenges of a Mixed Environment

There are three major challenges for small businesses when it comes to managing mixed Mac and Windows environments: spending, staffing and solutions.

Recent data has found that small and midsized businesses spend twice as much on devices as their enterprise counterparts. Staffing challenges only make this more difficult. Despite recent layoffs, demand for IT staff remains consistently high while supply remains low. As a result, SMBs may have understaffed — or entirely empty — IT departments.

Solutions are the final piece of the puzzle. It’s not that options aren’t available; unified endpoint management solutions, for example, are now commonplace. But small businesses may not recognize the need for Mac and Windows management because they haven’t yet experienced any issues.

READ MORE: Why small businesses need penetration tests.

Consider Single-Pane-of-Glass and Dual-Solution Frameworks

For small businesses managing mixed environments, two paths are common: single-pane-of-glass and dual-solution frameworks.

Single-pane-of-glass solutions make it possible to manage any application on any device, anywhere, providing control over Windows, Mac and other devices on business networks. Solutions such as VMware’s Workspace ONE provide a single, unified management console that allows businesses to quickly see what’s happening across their IT environments and what this means for operations.

For specific functions such as identity management, small businesses may need to acquire additional solutions that expand the functionality of these single-source options. In such a dual-solution scenario, the mechanisms of operation are the same — it’s simply the form that differs.

The most popular option among small businesses for managing a mixed environment is a combination of Microsoft Intune and Jamf. Intune handles the Microsoft side and Jamf handles the Apple devices, allowing a divide-and-conquer approach. Both solutions provide a pathway for cloud identity management and the easy exchange of relevant information.

Another Apple option is Kandji, which provides device and vulnerability management, and endpoint detection and response.

Ultimately, the best solution for a small business isn’t defined by the devices they use but by their management preferences. Some may prefer the solution-specific nature of Intune and Jamf, while others may want the simplicity that comes with all-in-one solutions such as Workforce ONE.

EXPLORE: Click to learn more about solutions for your small business.

Making the Most of the Windows/Mac Mix

While mixed environments bring challenges for small businesses, they offer greater choices for staff. And with many employees now working from home part or full time, choice can be a key differentiator for engagement and retention.

Small businesses need mixed-management strategies that go beyond operating systems and platforms to address the impact of intersecting Mac and Windows devices on day-to-day operations. Connect with industry experts to determine what approach makes sense for your management requirements, and discover solutions that can help empower your staff without compromising security.

This article is part of BizTech's AgilITy blog series. Please join the discussion on Twitter.

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