IBM supporting the Apple platform

Earlier this month, at the JAMF Nation User Conference, IBM revealed a lot of interesting information about their move from a Windows-centric organization to one that supports the Apple platform.

[Fletcher Previn, IBM's VP of Workplace-as-a-Service] said that at IBM, there had always been a lot of demand from employees who wanted to use Mac, but the status quo thinking was that Mac was more expensive, Macs are challenging to support, and they would have to re-train the help desk staff.

After meeting with Apple, IBM began to realize that the two companies were very similar: large organizations with a global reach, and were experiencing the same enterprise problems. During their meeting, they also noticed that Apple was managing a large number of devices with significantly less resources than you would typically find in PC environments.

It's always interesting to see a concept, such as Apple hardware being overpriced, challenged in the context of a company like IBM. The status quo would tell you that Macs are more expensive than PCs, and overall are not a cost-effective machine.

Previn said that IBM is deploying 1,900 Macs per week and currently have 130,000 Macs and iOS devices in the hands of users. And all of these devices are supported by a total of 24 help desk staff members, meaning that each staff member effectively supports 5,375 employees. One stat that particularly stood out was that 5% of Mac users call the help desk, compared to 40% of PC users. This shows how simple it is for the staff at IBM to use the Mac platform, and reflects the hard work the team has done to make the experience seamless.

Can you imagine if the drop from 40% to 5% affected the entire company? That's a huge improvement and takes a large burden off of an IT department. That ends up leading to either a more productive IT department (that isn't as busy addressing support requests) or a slimmer IT department.

Previn continued the Mac@IBM conversation by saying the upfront cost of PCs is lower, but the residual value of Mac is higher. “A Mac still has value three or four years down the road,” he added. With the provisioning and automation practices used to manage Mac, IBM does not need to create images for all of their machines — saving their IT staff significant time.

“Every Mac that we buy is making and saving IBM money,” Previn said.

And the fact that they’re supporting all of the devices and users with a minimal number of IT staff is truly incredible. Previn says that Gartner believes the optimal number of IT to employees should be 1:70. Previn noted that the average is 1:242. And IBM is currently hovering around 1:5,400 for their Mac users. Wow!

“We just need a lot fewer people to support these machines,” he added.

Notice the difference between IBM's average and ratio of IT staff per Mac user. 1:242 versus 1:5400. Or, put in another way, taking an equal amount of PC and Mac users, it takes 22 staff to support as many PCs as 1 Mac staffer. Incredible.