What makes the OS X Lion era different
Although most of the concepts and tools discussed in this article aren't new or specific to Lion, the latest version of Mac OS X represents a new chapter in Mac management and Apple's enterprise strategy.
Until last year, when Apple announced it was discontinuing the Xserve, the company continued to position its server and related technologies as a core option for Mac management and support in business environments of all sizes. There was native support for enterprise standards like Active Directory, and OS X Server had begun to offer simplified setup for small businesses, but Apple continued to push its enterprise-specific products.
That approach seems to have drastically changed. Apple no longer produces data center-ready hardware. The company has gutted many of the advanced admin tools in Lion Server, leading to a product that seems to be a transitional release. Most enterprise features are still present, but in a manner that strongly suggests they're included for legacy support and likely to disappear in a future revision that will focus solely on small business.
At the same time, Apple seems to be building better enterprise support directly into the consumer platforms. This enables enterprises to implement them with no Apple-provided intermediary in many cases. Given Apple has never acted like a true enterprise vendor, this seems a more logical approach and will likely support and accelerate the influx of iOS devices and Macs into the workplace.
Where these products don't offer enough enterprise abilities on their own, Apple seems content to let third-party vendors fill the void. While a better approach on some levels, it remains clear that understanding the basic concepts and Apple's original approaches to integrating its products in the enterprise is still useful when it comes to evaluating the available solutions.
Stay tuned for an overview of third-party tools to help you manage your Mac fleet. Sign up for our Apple newsletter to receive word when this Mac management resource is available on the InfoWorld website.
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This article, "IT's guide to managing Macs in the OS X Lion era," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest news in Apple, Mac OS X, and system administration at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld on Twitter.