Enterprise Apple Support for ECM Software Developer
Our client Hyland is a forward-thinking software developer whose OnBase platform and cloud products serve nearly half of the Fortune 100. After several years of acquisitions, Hyland needed to manage their own Apple users, who had grown substantially in number.
Established in 1991 and headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, Hyland is a global powerhouse that thrives on new ideas and diverse perspectives. The company grew rapidly between 2011 and 2021 to its current size. Today, over 4000 associates at 30 locations worldwide serve roughly 20,000 lifetime customers.
Until late in 2020, IT support for Apple devices at Hyland was primarily ad hoc. The team struggled to keep up with the pace of acquisitions. That’s when Ryan Asik, Infrastructure Administrator at Hyland, began working with our Apple Corporate Services group to unravel multiple issues with Mac devices by bringing them into a managed environment. Ryan was tasked with overseeing the company’s Mac environment.
Recently, Ryan explained the issues he faced in more detail, along with the ways in which Cranston IT has helped solve them.
Ryan: The journey began about five years ago. We started implementing the first of several different methods to support Apple devices. Originally, these methods were based on prior experience from employees who had worked in an Apple environment, but they were novice-level methods. We never had an MDM [Mobile Device Management] solution such as Jamf in place, and that really limited our ability to manage Macs in the overall IT environment.
As a result, we had a large unmanaged environment that allowed Macs to be used, but only in a limited way. I’ve been with Hyland for a little over ten years, at one point supervising the help desk. We had tried to use IBM Big Fix and other Windows tools, but these attempts failed to give us results. We were finally able to move forward when several acquisitions came with a substantial Mac user base.
Mac User Base Growing
Macs first appeared in the marketing department – no surprise there. Then some of Hyland’s R&D people wanted to investigate creating products for macOS. And finally, there were acquisitions in which software development was being done on Macs for customers who chose that option.
Fast forward to today. Multiple acquisitions over several years meant that by 2020, Ryan and the team were onboarding associates with more and more Apple devices.
Ryan: Initially, we were primarily a Windows-based software development company, and for a long time, supported Windows devices only. Prior to the acquisitions, when a Mac ticket came in and it was a hardware issue, we covered it under AppleCare. But if the ticket was software related, we struggled to find the expertise to manage the issue.
Fortunately, Mac users needed help less frequently and often wanted to figure issues out for themselves, so the requests were manageable. After the acquisitions occurred, though, problems arose. We had password syncing issues that became infinite loops. Software was purchased and licensed by individuals, so we had no control over what ended up on their devices. And users trying to solve their own IT problems created a myriad of other problems. It was a little bit of the wild, wild west.
We talked about Jamf, but it never made it past budget reviews because our user base wasn’t large enough to justify an MDM. Plus, we kept the numbers of Mac users down somewhat by questioning if they could use a PC to do their jobs instead, or if using a Mac was just a preference. However, we reached a tipping point. We had a few acquisitions where it became apparent that, yes, users needed to operate Macs to do their jobs.
We were able to issue new Macs at that point. Because of the number of people and the complexity, we also developed a standard Mac offering. But it came along with a 55-page document that users had to churn through to configure the unit themselves. Challenging and cumbersome are the words that come to mind, contrary to the ease of use that Apple products typically offer.
Finally, we lacked the necessary security controls that would keep the devices safe. Macs had also been issued, at times, under the radar. In fact, when I undertook this project, we weren’t even sure exactly how many devices we had. Our best estimate was between 120 and 200.
When Ryan kicked off his project with Cranston IT initially, Hyland was also going through a migration from Outlook Exchange to Office 365. In tandem with this effort, the first 100 Mac users were also getting their mailbox moved as part of having Hyland manage their device for the first time. And the company was also rolling out Microsoft Defender. It was the proverbial perfect storm.
Ryan: It wasn’t just that we needed help to manage Macs. We also had so many other new programs going on, as well as new versions of iOS and macOS.
In addition, our former new employee onboarding was not ideal. In addition to the 55-page document, to set up the device for a new user, our help desk technicians would have to create an account themselves, login, and then log the user in. As a result, one of our help desk accounts always existed on the unit, along with a local admin account. There was a lot of messy user account management going on there. Today, we don’t have to do that.
We were also using a security solution that wasn’t properly designed for macOS. As a result, we missed opportunities to encrypt and secure that device properly. We came to a point where we couldn’t allow people to go to the newest macOS version because it wasn’t supported by our security. The results were hours wasted trying to determine why the two were not working together and then trying to resolve it.
More than Managed Devices
Nearly eighteen months after Ryan kicked off the project with Cranston IT to manage Apple devices at Hyland, the results have gone far beyond expectations in four main areas.
In Northeast Ohio, Hyland may be the largest software developer. Its ability to attract talent is supported by a large Internship Program, including high-tech camps where high schoolers can come and learn to code with C++ and more. They want to build talent from the local community. Being able to offer a choice between a PC and a Mac supports these efforts by giving candidates the sense that their preferences not only matter but are also valued.
Rather than handing out a 55-page complex document and having to ship each Apple device themselves, the Hyland team now has achieved zero-touch provisioning. This means that onboarding now consists of ordering the device and sending a much smaller document that consists mainly of screen capture instructions for self-setup. Ryan credits his partnership with Cranston IT for helping to get this remote user management strategy ironed out and functioning.
Security / Compliance
Hyland’s new and existing Mac user base – about 400 in number as of mid-2022 – has benefited from the new protocols. Roughly six months after the Monterey upgrade dropped in late 2021, about 75% of users had upgraded. In the past, Ryan’s team would wait for over six months before they recommended users start to upgrade. Now they’re able to quickly test the new OS and make sure it works within their environment, giving users a green light much earlier. By the same token, Ryan’s team can shut down unauthorized apps if they show up to keep all of the devices on the network safe.
Now that Hyland’s help desk team has instituted better remote onboarding and user management tools, they report gaining significant time back. Further, they don’t have to endure the difficulties encountered when onboarding their global associates in multiple locations ranging from India and Japan to the United Kingdom, Western Europe, and South America. This frees them up for more troubleshooting and working on actual issues rather than the initial setup. Ryan explains, “Now we’re actually able to say to associates, ‘Hey, you’re up for computer refresh. Do you want a Windows machine? Or do you want a Mac if it works for your job?’
The Cranston IT Difference
Today, Ryan’s main focus is making sure that Apple devices are in compliance, updated and current, and continuing to enable the help desk to efficiently roll out new Macs to employees. “We’ve arrived at a really good place thanks to Cranston’s team,” he says.
Essentially, Cranston helped Ryan to evolve the Mac environment at Hyland. His team went from a reactive mode that addressed symptoms of the problem to pro-active protocols that brought greater productivity and benefits.
Ryan summarizes, “Life has been a lot smoother. Our Mac users now have well-functioning devices that make them more efficient, productive, and content at work. Our security is dialed in, our onboarding is light years easier, and our recruiting efforts have been bolstered by our strong Mac offering. And now? It’s just about auditing and seeing what we can tweak and change to make the environment better.”