10 reasons macOS High Sierra is good for the enterprise

Some of the best improvements you need to know about

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Credit: Apple

In this report, we provide a top-level insight into some of the key enterprise-useful enhancements within Apple’s forthcoming Mac operating system, High Sierra.

What is High Sierra?

The 14th major version of Apple’s Mac operating system, High Sierra is currently going through beta testing in order to ship this fall. The OS (aka macOS 10.13) has a range of under-the-hood technology improvements, including an all-new 64-bit Apple File System. This has its own useful consequences for enterprise users, including speed, performance, and security.

Configuration improvements

Tens of thousands of Macs will be deployed across enterprises this year. Apple has taken some big steps to try to make it easier for enterprise IT to manage large Mac deployments with a range of management and configuration improvements. Some I’ve discussed in more detail below, but deployment should be eased with the introduction of 802.1X ethernet configuration, firmware password and user account management tools, and the ability to delay software updates for up to 90 days so IT crews can test these releases.

Data security

Apple’s platforms remain the most secure around, and while the company’s success means they are becoming more attractive targets the huge stability advantages and lack of fragmentation across its platforms mean phishing and password hacking are the most common ways in which Mac security is undermined.

The best way to protect against both is to train enterprise staff in what to watch for and to enforce strict security protocols.

That’s not all you can do: High Sierra adds FileVault key escrow, and new mobile device management tools to shutdown and/or restart macOS remotely. The system also provides users with built-in data encryption for added peace of mind.

Cloud services

Apple also recognizes that cloud storage services aren’t always appropriate for enterprise data, which is why High Sierra offers tools with which to restrict use of iCloud for desktop content or documents.

Safari enhancements

The Apple Web browser should be much faster than before, but some enterprise users may appreciate its new Intelligent Tracking Prevention feature, which will help businesses develop security protocols to deal with web tracking of employees online. This will also enable tighter control of location data sharing. Another handy feature lets business travelers track flights in Spotlight.

AIKit and AR

I discussed ARKit elsewhere, but enterprises will want to look to Macs as a solution for the development and deployment of augmented reality solutions appropriate to their business and brand. Metal 2, AIKit and Unity, Epic, and Steam VR integration once again seal Apple’s place in the creative department. HEVC (H.265) support will also make sense as enterprise communications becomes more focused around UC and video.

Development

A range of useful development enhancements, though enterprise IT teams will likely welcome the addition of wireless development for iOS devices when using Xcode on Mac. The Cisco/Apple move to speed up iOS data on Cisco-based networks may also have implications on your business.

Apple File System

The company has applied AFS across its platforms, meaning all its solutions will become truly 64-bit. The new file system promises significant productivity gains, and makes mundane tasks like duplicating a file almost instantaneous. The new file system also boasts built‑in encryption, crash‑safe protections, and simplified data backup.

Microsoft Office

Apple and Microsoft appear to be in step in the new macOS. Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote (versions 15.35 or later) will install and run on the High Sierra beta, though Microsoft warns there may be stability problems.

Apple Business Chat

Not strictly speaking a macOS feature, Apple Business Chat does open new opportunities for bot development within Messages, which the platform supports. More on this here.

Compatibility

Perhaps one of the best things about High Sierra is the depth of support it offers for existing Macs. If a Mac can run the previous (Sierra) macOS, then it can run the new version when it ships in the fall. This essentially means any Mac released since 2010 (and some models released earlier) will run the OS. For best results, you’ll want to deploy new, more powerful, Macs – but any Mac since 2010 should be compatible.

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