​IBM open-sources Mac sysadmin software

IBM, yes IBM, has been giving its workers the choice of moving to Macs and they've been moving to them quickly. This, in turn, has led IBM to create, and now open source, a Mac system administration program: Mac@IBM code.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

In 2015, IBM had half-a-million Windows users. It then gave its staffers the option to switch to Apple Macs. Six months later, over 30,000 had made the shift. Today, over 134,000 IBMers are Mac users. To manage them, IBM created its own Mac-specific system administration program: Mac@IBM. Now, IBM is open-sourcing this program.

For those of us who have been around IT for a while this sounds like an oxymoron. IBM, the father of the PC, open-sourcing a Mac sysadmin program? Yes. Indeed, IBM found each Mac deployment saved the company up to $543 over four years compared to Windows PCs. In part that was because of its Mac@IBM software.

Now, at the JAMF User Nation Conference in Minneapolis, IBM CIO Fletcher Previn announced that IBM will open source its Mac@IBM code. This gives IT admins the power to gather user data during setup. This, in turn, enables users to customize their desktops by giving them the power to select apps or bundles of apps to install during setup.

In a statement Previn said, the "Mac@IBM enrollment app is the culmination of three years of IBM's investment in engineering to deliver the industry-leading Mac@IBM program. The app makes setting up macOS with Jamf Pro [an enterprise Apple device management program] more intuitive for users, and makes it easier for IT departments to respond to employee desire to support choice."

IBM made this move to Mac not just because of cost savings. Previn continued, "The Mac@IBM program placed the user first, reflecting IBM's belief that IT is a driver of culture change and leads to engaged employees."

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IBM isn't giving up on Windows. Employees are given a choice when it's time to upgrade their gear from either a Windows PC or a Mac. With almost 27 percent of its staffers now using Macs, it's clear that Apple has won major fans at Big Blue.

That said, Previn added, "The lessons learned from the successful Mac@IBM program were applied to the PC@IBM program, and IBM is deploying Windows 10 with many of the same design points."

Imagine. It's 2018 and Macs have become a major enterprise desktop and they're leading the way in desktop innovation. Clearly, the Mac still has life left on the business desktop.

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