MacBook ‘vending machine’ dispenses loaners at London School of Economics

LSE’s iRoam laptop service lets students borrow Apple laptops from the library

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The Apple environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) has grown from a handful of unsupported Macs to more than 1,000 managed Apple devices over the last couple of years. Shifting to more automated provisioning of Apple devices has allowed the British university to try new things -- including offering loaner laptops to students through a MacBook “vending machine” in the library.

Yannis Lagogiannis is responsible for the Apple enterprise infrastructure, deployment and support strategy at LSE, which has 9,600 students, 3,300 staff members, 25 academic departments and dozens of research centers. When Lagogiannis started working at the Microsoft Windows-centric school, there was no system in place for keeping track of Apple devices.

“We knew we had a lot of Apple devices in the wild," said Lagogiannis, Apple systems specialist at LSE. Lagogiannis also knew that heavy-handed efforts to take control of those devices would be a mistake.

“Coming into an environment and being asked to set up a managed environment -- ‘managed’ is a very tricky word,” said Lagogiannis, who shared his experience at JAMF Software’s user conference in Minneapolis. “These researchers see their environment as their own domain. They bring in the money for the research centers, and they buy the hardware. Simply going to someone and saying, ‘forget about what you’ve been doing so far. This is how you do it.’ It wouldn’t work that way.”

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