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Addressing The Consumerization of IT aka GCC's Transition to Macs and Mobility

By Jason Powell in General IT Discussions almost 4 years ago | 3596 views Link:

2 years later and I’ve FINALLY starting blogging about our transition to platform choice and mobility – which we all know if given a choice most users will chose mac … and that’s been verified by our experience at GCC :-)

Here’s the 1st blog post:  Addressing The Consumerization of IT aka GCC’s Transition to Macs and Mobility – Part 1

update: Part 2 added

update: Part 3 added

update: Part 4 added

update: Part 5 added

update: Part 6 added

Feel free to leave comments on the blog or here for anything you’d like to see addressed in future blog posts.  And like most things in Church IT … what works well in one environment may not work well in another.

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Jonathan Puddle

Great stuff, man. Its amazing how similar our operations and approach has
been on this topic.

Sent from my mobile device
On 2013-04-12 11:50 AM, “Jason Powell on The City” <(email address removed)>

Jason Powell

fixed the link … sorry about that folks …

Brent Mitchell

Hey Jason, I appreciate the insight into your transition. I am curious what you were looking for in terms of “enterprise support” for the macs. Hardware only or OS as well? What are you accustomed to previously?

Dave Lopez

Good write up… This is exactly what I’ve been thinking for the past year. We spend so much time going back and forth on who gets laptops, and Macs. We pretty much only buy Mac Laptops as it is. What did you find in the way of Accidental Damage coverage? I think about a third of our macs have pretty dinged up corners.

Ronny Redd

Mono price has decent shells for MacBooks $15 ea

Jason Powell

Brent – good question. I’ll make sure to cover that at some point.  Essentially we had been used to Dell’s Complete Care and next day onsite service.  We could contact Dell for OS or hardware issues.  Apple has no onsite option for macbooks and their phone support and genius bar help continues to be very lame. 

Dave – We were thinking hard about using CDW’s 3rd party accidental coverage, but decided to roll the dice and not .. 2 years later we’ve not had any severe damage that would have needed it (knock on wood).  The CDW warranty works on stuff not purchased from CDW too.

Chris Adams


NBD on-site hardware replacement by a technician, for one.  Also, troubleshooting that doesn’t involve formatting and reinstalling.  (We’re having DVD burning issues on a Mac Pro and Apple’s solution is a wipe & reload before they replace hardware under applecare, which is not an option for us.  Looks like this Apple hardware failure is on us despite the warranty.)

Also, in the very rare case you have to use Microsoft Support, it becomes clear the epic gap between “enterprise support” and “business support”.


Nice writeup!  I might be tempted to steal a large chunk of it myself!

As far as laptop prices, we’ve never spent more than $1,000 on Dell Latitude E-Series, so swinging a mac laptop budget will be a bit more difficult. (Currently I’m on an E6420 w/2nd Gen Core i7, SSD, and 6GB of RAM which was right at $1,000 with 3 year Accidental Damage… so yeah, there is definitely a price gap with how cheap we are.)

As far as accidental damage, we stopped purchasing it after realizing the expense rarely paid for itself, and it was more cost effective to replace the one or two units that get dropped (avg laptop is $800 for us).  Once our staff gets more clumsy this may change! :)

Either way, I look forward to coming alongside staff during the consumerization of IT rather than fighting them on it, especially as the Air has gotten great upgrades over the past year or two.

Any good CrashPlan Pro alternatives now that I hear they discontinued their on-site backup? 

Jason Powell

Chris – Crashplan Enterprise still has onsite option. They did change their licensing model which makes it more $ over time vs prior.  They still offer 501c3 discounts.

I should also note we’ve bought several refurb macbook airs for right at $1000 and not had any issues with them to date.

Jason Powell

Part 2 now live

Brendan Stark

Great article.

I admit we fanbois can get a little annoying. The only thing that stuck in my craw was the "if you need windows to do your job then you need a Dell" line. If Shelby would just make a v5 client, I would never need VMware or Windows!

Can’t wait to read part 3.

Eric Eskam

I agree – great series of posts.  I particularly appreciate the focus on IT being there to support the users, not the other way around.  It’s amazing to me how often that is completely lost on most IT folks.

RE: fanbois – they exist on any platform.  In my experience I see the fanboi thing tossed around way too liberally – mainly by people who are happy with what they have and just don’t want to hear anything from opposing POV’s but aren’t willing to just let the other POV go.  If you don’t agree that’s fine.  It’s also perfectly fine to just let it go and not respond to it – it’s a two way street ;)

Cisco Ospina

You guys are doing great things, and have great points that inspire folks to really evaulate how they will embrase the Consumeration of IT. It’s something that we all must deal with, and there’s no right or wrong way… just the way that works best for your orgnization.

God Bless guys!

Jason Powell

Cisco – I’m confused? I don’t see anything earlier from you in this thread?

Cisco Ospina

Misunderstanding.  Reference was to moderated comments on the blog.  I had posted and saw several others approved.  Must have gotten lost in cyber space.  I had given some things for others to think about, but was hoping not to offend in the process. 

Sorry for the confusion man.  I’ve edited my post above.  Thanks for sharing what you guys are doing.  I’ve taken a lot of great ideas away from Granger and the CITRT guys that I have personally implemented in the network at SCC.

Jason Powell

Ahh. I have blog comments moderated to cut down on spam. I checked and don’t see any comments from ya. Sorry. Please comment away :-)
>> Jason Powell … Sent on the go from my iPhone5. Please forgive the brevity and typos. <<<

Cisco Ospina

Let me try again.  It was probably a good thing.  I’ll take the “book” I had written and condense it to the point that I was hoping to make.  I’ll post it to the blog.  Thanks man!  :)

Jason Powell

No problem. Like I said in the first post. What works in our environment may not work in others … and there’s lots of backstory and whatnot I’ll never be able to accurately communicate in the blog posts :-)
Just trying to document our journey over the past 2 years since I get asked about it often :-)
>> Jason Powell … Sent on the go from my iPhone5. Please forgive the brevity and typos. <<<

Aaron Sudduth

Jason, one of the devices I have laying around is a 1 year old 13" Samsung series 9.  As I remember it at the time it beat every single 13" MB Air spec (i.e. is 0.01" thinner, 0.1lbs lighter, higher res screen, etc – screen is 1600×900) – only thing it didn’t beat out was the cost…  I know it was more than the air…  but I consider it about the only true equal…  of course its a “consumer” (all be it expensive) machine.

oh, and for the way I use windows 8 (on a non-touch) device it works exactly the same as Windows 7 for me – but thats me…  I know its not for everyone.  But certainly it does make sense on a touch device.  (“they way I use windows” – that is ever since Vista, I dont navigate the start menu with a mouse.  I press the windows key, start typing “word” and press enter…  Windows 8 works the same way as vista/win7 in that respect.  Only difference is the start menu that pops up is the full screen – and I know I’ve been using it longer, and Im not an average user)

Steven Morris


I assume you have some sort of Mac Server running. Are you using a Golden Triangle setup with AD for your Windows clients? Would love to maybe see some of the infrastructure for your support of them.

This is literally what I just started doing last week, so your timing could not have been any better.

Jason Powell

Aaron – a big piece of the “find a great windows laptop” is finding one with a great trackpad. It’s very difficult to find anything that can match the apple trackpad.  At this point we don’t really care if the device is “consumer” or “enterprise” so long as it’s a great experience for the user :)

Steven – that’s coming in a future post so hang tight.  Short answer is we have a mac mini as our print server for macs and iOS gear.  We don’t bind macs to AD or OD.

Aaron Sudduth

Jason…  thanks for the insight.  compared to a lot of windows laptops, I think the Samsung’s trackpad is great.  Its probably not quite to the magic trackpad, but worth looking at.

Next time I’m at a CITRT event or something where you may be, I’ll make sure to bring it along if you want to use it :)

Cisco Ospina

Please note, this is not to offend Jason or anyone else reading this.  Just something to think about:

MACs have their place.  For us, it’s Video Editing, Graphic Design, and Soundbooths (which would also include Tech Arts staff).  Where that “place” is for you (anyone reading) can be argued, and what it boils down to is what works best for your organization. Even Jason said in this series what works for them may not work for others.

One thing to consider when defining “what works best for your organization”:  

I purchased 25 brand new computers this year: 13 Optiplex desktops (i5 CPU/4GB RAM/Win7/3 year warranty) and 12 Dell Latitude laptops (15"/i5 CPU/4GB RAM/Win7/9 Cell Battery/Web Cam/Spare AC Adapter/3 year with accidental warranty). My total bill was just under $18,000.

With the config in the article above, at $1,720 per 13" Air, my total bill for all 25 computers would have been $43,000. Sure, I could have purchased a referb mac, but I did not purchase referb Dell’s, so it’s not exactly apples to apples (no pun intended). :)

So the question is: Is it worth $25,000 more than what the PC’s cost, so that the other 95% of your staff can have the “cool”, pretty, personal preference of OS… MAC?  We generally purchase 20-25 brand new computers per year (full time staff receive a new computer every four years, our strategy can be discussed another time if anyone is interested), which could potentially equate to $100,000 extra over four years in our case (again, above and beyond what the PC’s cost).

I consider the network that I manage to be an enterprise class network, though not perfect. We standardize on quality equipment that we run through a strategic life cycle to get the maximum use of the equipment.  We are given approvals based on our technical expertise from leaders that trust our judgment.  Please, think through your decisions as a business professional when deciding how you will use MACs in your organization. And yes, we do use MACs in our organization as well.

And in your conclusion, if you decide that MACs are the way to go for your organization, then at least you really considered what you are saying in terms of an IT Professional making business decisions about what is BEST for the organization, and not what is best for your individual users’ personal desires.

I’m not trying to cause division, but unity as we serve the Kingdom of God together. Just giving everyone something to think about as we consider MACs, and the Consumeration of IT.  God bless!!

Disclaimer:  I prefer to use Windows, but am not a MAC “hater”.  I purchase MACs in our organization where they are needed.  I also recently purchased a MAC for my wife for photo editing as she is a professional photographer (six years as a professional photog), a case where there was a need.

Jonathan Puddle

For the record, I can’t STAND the Mac trackpad. It’s horrible, in every way.

Haha. To each their own, right!


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Chris Adams

Personally, all of my major system decisions over the past year or two have been geared towards one thing: platform agnostic (preferrably web-based or multi-OS client).  I specifically want this so we can begin allowing staff to use whatever platform they are comfortable with.

In an ideal network, we’d all have the exact same computer and do the exact  same work with the exact same software and our spreadsheets would clearly indicate the need to go with product “X” for everyone over product “Y”.

Unfortunately in ministry related networks we have design, video, office, accounting, HR, reception, Chidlren’s Ministry, etc. etc. and each person has a different set of needs. And no, designers, videographers, photographers, “creatives” don’t need a Mac… they likely will be most productive with Adobe software, but that runs equally well if not better on a PC (see also InDesign incompatibility with OS X, Bridge “weirdness” when pointing at a shared location from multiple Macs, PC video workstations with far superior processing power than Mac Pros which haven’t been updated much in years, etc. etc.).

Here’s the crazy part: paying more for something someone is comfortable with when it doesn’t negatively impact the rest of the staff can actually be a performance improvement, much like upgrading a computer or purchasing an application to meet a specific need.

Also, the bridges it builds between tech ops and staff can be very beneficial long term for everyone.

Sometimes things can cost more, have no technical superiority, but still be better for the ministry.

With that said, I prefer my PC laptop hands down because I’m in love with Office 2013 and I love Outlook and Excel (there, I said it! and I’m not ashamed!).  I also have an iMac on my desk because I love Keynote, Pixelmator, and of course Apple Remote Desktop for Mac support and software deployment.

Cisco Ospina

Exactly. As I said, the where one defines their place (or “need”) can be argued. For some, it might be their entire network. For us, its not. You might have missed the $25k/$100k difference I was refering to.

All I’m saying is include true numbers to those approving your budget request and see if they agree that personal preference is worth that kind of cost difference. Your overall church budgets might be much larger than ours, where your leaders don’t mind.

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