MacIT 2013 kicks off with admin overview, nostalgia

After a Wednesday pre-conference day filled with technical workshops, the MacIT 2013 event (colocated with Macworld/iWorld at Moscone West) kicked off with a panel discussion featuring John Welch, Nadyne Richmond, Ben Greisler, Arek Dreyer and more. The panel speakers provided quick overviews of the Mac and iOS enterprise landscape, including the promise and perils of BYOD, the role of the Mac mini Server in replacing Apple's legacy rackmounted Xserve, and the security risks facing the Mac platform in large companies.

Following the panel, Chip Pearson from JAMF Software reviewed 20 years of Mac sysadmin history, including enthusiastic shout-outs to Paul Kent and his IDG team for facilitating MacIT; Neil Ticktin and MacTECH for their continuing coverage and events supporting Mac admins; and the rebel cloners of Power Computing, who "out-Apple'd Apple" in their enthusiasm for the Mac ecosystem.

Pearson recalled how Power Computing's appearance at Macworld Expo in 1996 included a parking lot bungee cord jump, reserved for people who bought one of their machines at the show. He also noted that a company representative had a fix for the confusing interleaved memory DIMM requirements of the time, where slots had to be populated in pairs: "We told Apple, instead of slots A1 and A2, B1 and B2 -- just make it R2 and D2, C3 and P0 and everyone will just get it!"

Pearson connected the three important ingredients of supporting the enterprise (great people, ideas and technology) with his exhortation to improve education through technology. He asked the audience to investigate and understand how technology can improve education, lead through sharing expertise and time, and accelerate achievement by both students and educators. "We will all benefit by those smart students coming out and solving the problems we all inherited, and some that we are creating today," he said. "If you know something, take the opportunity to teach it. That's why we come together here, and at the Penn State Mac Admins conference; to learn."

The influx of traditional Windows sysadmins to the Mac administration field should be welcomed, according to Pearson. "If it's guys in ties, remember that some of the Mac users you're supporting also have to wear suits and ties to work." He also noted that enterprise is still trying to figure out what to do about the influx of iPads into big business, and he thinks 2013 is the year that we will start to figure out some best practices. "Let's figure out the best [use cases] for the iPad in business first, and then worry about some of the 2.0 stuff... The old models are imperfect; mobile management is not the same as computer management."

Pearson ended his presentation with a tribute to Mac management publications, sites, products and technologies paired with the "Here's to the crazy ones" ad narration, and received an enthusiastic ovation from the ample MacIT crowd.

MacIT continues through Saturday at Moscone West.