Critical Thinking: “IBM’s Apple deployment stats should be a lesson to enterprise companies everywhere”

Here’s the article I’m commenting upon. While I’m a little bit of an Apple fanboy, I’m a critical thinker first and foremost, and I do hate it when people on the blogosphere – even writers I normally enjoy and respect – go off the deep end.

Read the article first. Don’t disagree or agree with anything – this isn’t a debate; it’s an exercise in critical thinking. Spot the flaws.

Not least among them the fact that 73% of IBM employees – the company whose personal computer division was once almost synonymous with Microsoft – want a Mac as their next PC. The company is currently equipping its employees with Macs at the rate of 1300 people per week.

That’s lovely – and must certainly be exciting for Apple. Given the higher overall acquisition cost of a MacBook versus the major competitors, like Lenovo, Dell, and HP (especially for business-class laptops), this is a big deal.

ndeed, IBM Japan has gone as far as making Macs standard-issue: any employee wanting a Windows machine instead has to make a special request justifying their need.

Well, okay then – but you can’t have it worth ways. If it’s been made a mandatory “choice,” then obviously the deployment numbers are going to be big. This isn’t so much a  “win” for Apple as it is the same-old lazy IT management philosophy we’ve seen for decades, just shifted from PCs to Macs. It’s still the “we can only deal with one option when it comes to support” attitude, which for a company the size of IBM is a little depressing.

Hard drive encryption, for example, used to be something the company had to implement on top of a standard Windows installation; with macOS, FileVault is a standard installation option.

Um, BitLocker.

It also saved money on anti-virus protection, XProtect built-in to Macs while Windows machines require third-party software.

Um, no. XProtect isn’t proper anti-malware. It doesn’t scan for bad behaviors or known malware signatures. It’s basically file quarantine, and only for apps that mark files as being downloaded from the Internet. It only “scans” those for known malware, too, so anything new, that hasn’t been added to the manifest, won’t get caught.

While 27% of Windows tickets end up requiring IT staff to physically fix something at the user’s desk, that was true for only 5% of Mac tickets. PC users drive twice the number of support calls as Mac users.

This is an interesting stat, and represents a mental shift for companies. While PCs were always praised for their relatively open nature in terms of hardware, Macs are likely cheaper from this support perspective because they have so little variety, and because they’re assembled in a single top-to-bottom stack. Whereas companies will let people use PCs with potentially incompatible or sketchy hardware – printers, scanners, etc – with Macs I’m betting people in IT pay more attention to the smaller compatibility list. I’m actually a little surprised IT hasn’t picked up on this already. If you’re in a “we need to minimize hardware diversity” shop, Macs make a ton of sense.

There was also a significant difference in the costs of keeping devices up to date. Comparing the number of updates and patches required, the company said that a Windows 7 PC needed 86 security patches and 49 others. For Mac, the numbers were 11 and 20 respectively – a total of 104 fewer.

Yeah, Windows definitely has too many updates – and that’s a function of Windows having so many more moving parts. It supports more hardware, has a sketchy browser that companies refuse to retire, and so on. Look at what happened when Microsoft created Nano Server – patches went down by like 90%, due simply to fewer moving parts. This is also our first clue that IBM is running macOS, not Windows, on that Apple hardware, which is an interesting and entire separate discussion.

It’s a similar tale in mobile, where two-thirds of employees are now rocking iOS devices compared to just a third for Android. Blackberry accounts for a mere 0.4%, while Windows Mobile is nowhere to be seen. One of the benefits, says IBM, is greatly improved security. Only 1% of Android devices were running the latest version; for iOS devices, the percentage was 65% despite the latest release being a month later than for Android.

This again goes to the “we need to reduce diversity” philosophy, but in this case it’s got a twist, because in the Android space you almost can’t reduce diversity. Aside from Google’s own-branded phones, there really isn’t such a thing as “Android;” you’ve got Samsung Android, HTC Android, and God knows what else. And those vendors are famously horrible about bringing updates to last year’s devices, let alone older ones. It’s definitely a security concern, and it’s a legitimate reason to consider iOS devices from an enterprise perspective.

So… not a bad piece overall, although it obviously has a couple of seriously misleading/misinformed facts. It’s interesting, for me, to see a company like IBM going all-in on the “reduce hardware diversity” approach, only doing it with the one vendor that’s always lacked hardware diversity. Apple has, what, three basic laptop models and two basic desktops? Dell has, what, a jillion? Apple tends to stick with the same hardware – chipsets, for example – across entire lines, whereas HP’s various lines sport a lot more diversity.

Now go back and read the comments on the article. No, just kidding. Don’t. Your brain will melt😉. The word “bitlocker” literally doesn’t exist on the page.

How to Have Your House Painted

  1. Decide on colors. 
    This can be time-consuming, but also fun. Start with the little paint swatch cards from the paint store, but then invest in some sample cups of your final-cut choices. Paint some small patches and let them grow on you for a few days, at least. Once you’ve got your final choices…
  2. Sell your house.
  3. Buy a new house that is painted in your preferred colors.

The above process is the easiest way to accomplish the goal, trust me.

Going to Ignite? Come say hi! Here’s where I’ll be…

On Sunday prior to Ignite kicking off, I’ll be at The Krewe’s evening event. Please say “hi” if you see me!

On Monday Evening, I’m joining Jason Helmick and Jeff Hicks at a special Atlanta PowerShell User Group Meetup (free, registration required), and I hope you’ll visit if you’re in town. We’ll be heading out for drinks after the meetup. Registration (free) required.

On Tuesday Evening, I’ll be helping run the PowerShell Community Happy Hour (registration required; will open Sept 1 and I’ll link the URL here).

On Wednesday Morning, it appears I’ll be presenting “PowerShell Unplugged” with Jeffrey Snover. Cool! Come see us!

At some point, I’ll be over at the booth of Conversational Geek signing (free!) books. They should have “Conversational DevOps” and “Conversational PowerShell;” check with them directly at their booth for times.

And for the rest of Tuesday and Wednesday I’ll mainly be at the Pluralsight booth, speaking with customers and authors. Again – come say hello!

(I won’t be in the expo on Monday, and I’ll be leaving town Thursday on vacation, so please, please, catch me on one of the times above – I’d love to shake hands and hear how you’ve been doing!)

Ever wish your coworkers (or boss) were a bit more… skilled?

Mad technology skills aren’t the only thing you need to be successful in a career. We’re all familiar with the stereotypical “IT person” who can’t interact well with colleagues, the pointy-haired boss, and so on.

I want to help fix it, and with the Power of Pluralsight, I can. The problem is, it’s really hard to discover what non-technical skills someone actually needs. Like, “the ability to run more efficient meetings?” Seems like it’d be nice to have, but it’s not like there’s a document anywhere explaining that as a needed skill.

So we’ve got a survey running. Take it here – it’s free-text responses, so it’s going to require some thinking on your part, but we need to gather this information. And then ask your boss to take it. And your coworkers. And your user group members. Tweet it. Facebook it. LinkedIn it. Please, do this – we need a solid, statistically meaningful body of evidence so I can start designing a curriculum to actually solve the problem.

And imagine what we can do for those malleable young people just entering the field! We can get them started on the right foot, and give them a better chance at Owning the World one day.

So please – set aside some time to help out with this. I truly appreciate it.

Why This is the Last DSC Book You’ll Need

If you’re a regular reader, then you know that The DSC Book has been up for sale for a while now. As of this morning, the price went up a bit – the book is more than halfway “complete” (more on that in a moment), and so the initial early-bird pricing is going away. And I’ll be forthright and state right here that the price will go up again when the main body of the book is done, which I expect in a couple of months or so. That’ll make for an expensive book, given the length.

But this isn’t like any book you’ve bought in the past.

The reason I’m self-publishing this book, and more specifically doing it through LeanPub, is that the book won’t ever be done. As the technology evolves, I can update and re-publish the book. If you’ve allowed LeanPub to send you notification emails, you’ll get one each time I revise it. And my plan is to continue to revise it.

We’re in what I call Phase 1 right now. The goal of Phase 1 is to document the core functionality of DSC. The examples, right now, tend to be brief, and focused more on structure. If you’re already a competent PowerShell coder, then the current examples are probably all you need to do your thang in your own environment.

Once all the core functionality is documented, though, Phase 2 begins. And Phase 2 will last pretty much forever. It’s when I’ll be going back and adding more examples, including an entire case study that I’ve created. I’ll be adding – and revising, as the state of the industry evolves – practices and techniques. As people run into problems, I’ll add those to the text. As Microsoft changes the product, I’ll run through and add those changes. So while this may eventually be an $80 book of under 40,000 words, it’s the last time you’ll have to buy it. I don’t anticipate a “second edition;” I anticipate this being a lifelong work. Until and unless Microsoft changes DSC so drastically that a rewrite is needed, I’d much rather just keep revising this one book, potentially for years to come.

So tell a friend. Tell a colleague. Tell your local user group, mention it in your blog. I’m trying to do something different, that casts off the way books have traditionally been done, because DSC evolves to frequently that the old publishing models just don’t work. With this new approach, I can hopefully be more responsive and agile, and help bring you the information you need more quickly. You can feed me comments, typos, and new information, which I can incorporate almost immediately. While it might not be perfection (there’s no easy way in an EPUB, for example, to see “what’s new”), we’ll get it as close as we can together (I’m going to add a changelog chapter once Phase 1 is complete).

I deeply appreciate everyone who’s supported the project so far. To give you some scope of what that means, as of this morning we’ve sold just under 100 copies of the book. As LeanPub very clearly shows you, that’s under $3500 in income (you don’t write books to get rich, trust me). So every sale is hugely appreciated in terms of making this financially palatable to @PSHDonsBoss. And the feedback I’ve received has been incredibly helpful, so please keep it coming (you can drop a comment right here, and I include my email address in the new-revision email notifications).

Again – thank you. And now, back to writing.