Letter to Chris Spence from Scott Baker

November 26, 2009

Dear Dr. Spence

I am writing to you with regard to the recent decision to discontinue the acquisition and support of Apple Macintosh computers.

First, I would like to introduce myself so that you may better appreciate my comments. I was a centrally assigned consultant for ICT from 1993 to 2003, first with the Scarborough Board of Education and then with the TDSB. Post amalgamation, I co-chaired the Internet/Intranet Standards committee (whose work lead to the TDSB’s Code of Online Conduct), was a member and occasional chair of the TDSB-Wide Staff Development Committee, sat on the TDSB IT Hardware Standards committee, was involved with the CTMI initiative and, among other things, authored numerous documents and web resources for the Board (including the Macintosh support documents and web pages for CTMI). Prior to working for the Board I worked in the IT industry and was one of the first Novell certified consultants in Canada. (see Appendix 1 for an abstract of my curriculum vitae.)

I hope that you have been monitoring the dialogue that has been going on TEL in the ICT.tel conference. This may give you a greater appreciation of the distress that this unilateral decision has generated. The major concern is that this decision has been made without any input from those directly affected or from the Program department, particularly from the Information Communication Technologies,
e-Learning, Computer Studies & Instructional Media Services.

One of the responsibilities of the IT Department is to deliver the services students and teachers require to the classroom, not to determine what those services should be and how they should be delivered. Decisions that affect the classroom and curriculum should be made by educators, with input from the IT Department, not the other way around (or, as in this case, without any input from educators).

The Briefing Paper

I have had the opportunity to review the briefing paper provided to Trustees from Lee Stem on November 13, 2009, and feel compelled to comment on some of the items contained in this brief.

In the first paragraph it is stated:

Because Apple has developed proprietary operating system and
networking infrastructure, integrating Apple computers and PC’s in a fully interoperable environment has been and continues to be a formidable and costly challenge. This
experience is evidenced across Canada and US with similarly sized
environments.

In actual fact, the problem is the IT Department’s dependence on Microsoft proprietary network software and technologies, which offers little support for other operating systems other than Windows. This is part of Microsoft’s business model. It maximizes Windows computer deployment in an enterprise, which is to Microsoft’s benefit as they receive licensing fees from every operating system installed on a desktop or laptop regardless of vendor, as well as ongoing annual Client Access Licensing (CAL) fees for each Microsoft Server, Exchange, and Sharepoint user (according to my sources, the average cost per Enterprise user is about $190 annually – I hope that educational users get a better break). These potentially could add up to millions of dollars paid each year to Microsoft from the TDSB. It is true that Apple does employ some proprietary networking technologies, such as Bonjour, to simplify networking for home and small business use, but in Enterprise networking situations OS X natively supports the same established industry non-proprietary standards, such as LDAP, that Apple, UNIX, Linux, and even Microsoft have agreed upon.

The second part of the statement is also somewhat misinformative, in that it is only true that other similar sized organizations which are similarly Microsoft dependent experience similar integration problems. One need only look at New York City Department of Education (1450 schools, 80,000 teachers, 1,042,277 students), Los Angeles Unified School District (658 schools, 45,473 teachers, and 694,266 students), or Chicago Public Schools (666 schools, 43,840 staff, and 407,955 students), the three largest school districts in North America, who all successfully and seamlessly integrate and equally support Windows, Macintosh, and in some cases Linux and Unix computers. Other examples, off the top of my head. are NASA, Stanford University, MIT, Waterloo University, Carnegie Mellon University, Cisco Systems, Google Inc., even the tiny mid-west US university that my daughter attends. The most interesting example of all, however, is IBM, the former bastion of Windows computing and the originators of the “PC” computer. Two years ago, they started introducing Macintosh computers into their company as an experiment. Now, virtually all of IBM’s Research Division are now using Macintosh computers and in the Software Division, the sales force are on Macintosh computers so that they can demonstrate in real time the network interoperability of different operating systems to their clients.

On page 1, Lee Stem states that:

… there are still a few areas where Mac computers continue
to differentiate themselves, primarily in high-end media arts (film editing,
music composition and editing, etc.).

The paper goes on to suggest that Macintosh computers will be available “to support teaching and learning in these areas.” What Mr. Stem does not realize or appreciate is that these are exactly the areas and activities in which teachers and students are already engaged down to the Primary grades. For many teachers, the tools and user interface provided on the Macintosh platform are better suited to accomplishing these tasks. This viewpoint is supported by research, such as the Teaching, Learning and Computing Study by the University of California , which in part states:

We found that teachers with Macintosh expertise are more constructivist in both philosophy and general teaching practice than are other teachers [i.e. those with Windows/PC expertise]. That is, their teaching was more likely to involve designing activities around teacher and student interests (rather than in response to an externally mandated curriculum), having students engage in collaborative group projects where skills are taught and practiced in authentic contexts (rather than in a sequence of textbook exercises), focusing instruction on students’ understanding of complex ideas (rather than on definitions and facts), teaching students to self-consciously assess their own understanding, (in contrast to multiple-choice testing modeling learning)…

With regard to the “Early estimates of the additional costs” associated with maintaining Macintosh computers in our system on page 2, there appear to be several flaws in the two points listed. The first point states:

1) On an individual unit basis, the Mac costs approximately $400 (or 40%)
per unit more than an equivalent PC over the life of the unit. ($2 million
in additional cost for current stock.)

This statement seems flawed on several points.

• The $400 figure cited only seems to reflect the additional cost at acquisition, not the true cost over the life of the unit. I don’t believe that the cost of the base iMac has ever been $400 more than the base Dell computer this comparison is based on. During our initial rollout under CTMI, the cost differential was $233; currently it is about $324. This is a variable amount, dependent upon the current cost of an iMac and, more importantly, the cost of the base Windows computer. It is not a simple differential, as it does not reflect the quality of components used, nor the added value (such as software, built in camera, built-in microphone, larger screen [20” vs. 17”], quality of components, etc.) that is bundled with the Macintosh.

• The $2 Million in additional costs for current stock of computers is inaccurate for three reasons:

1. These addition costs would appear to be based on the erroneous price differential of $400 between base Windows and Macintosh computers ($400 times an estimated 5000 installed base of Macs). This is an inflated number as most of these installed Macs were part of the CTMI rollout, when the price differential, as previously stated, was only about $233.

2. Furthermore, during the CTMI rollout, schools receiving Macintosh computers received fewer computers than their actual allocation in order to make up the difference in acquisition cost between a Dell and a Macintosh workstation. This means that the Macintosh computers deployed during the rollout did not contribute to any overall greater acquisition costs to the Board.

3. Since then, schools obtaining Macs have paid the price differential, or the entire cost of the computer, out of their own budget or fundraising. This means that the Macintosh computers obtained by schools since the CTMI rollout have not contributed to any overall greater acquisition costs to the Board.

Consequently, it is not possible to state that any Macintosh computers have cost the Board any additional money with respect to acquisition costs. Notwithstanding, the lower TCO of Macintosh computers would more than compensate for any upfront price differential in acquisition costs (see below); schools should never have been required to pay these cost differentials.

It is interesting to note that since Macintosh computers have been integrated into the CTMI environment, schools have been purchasing increasing numbers of Macintosh computers from their own budget.

• The true Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is a complex equation which takes into account not only hardware acquisition costs, but also the quality of components, software and licensing costs, support costs, ease of use, reliability, performance, security, and productivity levels. Numerous studies over recent years (and longer) have consistently and universally shown that the TCO for Windows computers to be significantly higher than for Macintosh computers (notably studies and white papers by Gartner, IDC, Pfeiffer Consulting [2006] , Nash Networks [2009] ). CIO magazine [2007] (not a Mac friendly publication) put Windows TCO at twice as high as Mac. When Interpact, Inc., a network and security consulting firm, conducted TCO evaluations for several of their clients, they found the TCO of Windows workstations to be $1300 to $4000 more expensive than the TCO of Macintosh workstations. It is generally recognized that the TCO of Macintosh computers is significantly lower than that of Windows computers. If our Board does not find similar findings, then this would suggest that there is a serious systemic problem with our IT infrastructure and delivery of support services.

With respect to the second point:

2) Our support costs for having to deal with the complexities of a dual environment range from $2 to $3 million per year for the Board.

It is difficult to see where these figures come from for a number of reasons.

• Currently, to the best of my knowledge, the IT Department has just two full time employees supporting the Macintosh platform. As the technologies for Macintosh support at current levels are in place, and if the status quo were to be maintained, it is difficult to find how this would add up to a figure of $2 to $3 million dollars per year? It would appear that this figure includes significant support costs.

• Regardless of which platform, there will always be support costs, and industry research consistently finds that support costs for Windows workstations is higher than that for Macintosh workstations. In a recent study by Nucleus Research of mixed Windows and Macintosh work environments, on a per user basis, Macintosh users open significantly less support tickets and they are solved 30% quicker than those by Windows users. This represents a significant savings in support dollars. Industry norms would indicate that replacing Macintosh computers with Windows computers would result in increased support costs. In addition, Pfeifer Consulting found that on-site support costs for functions such as deployment, repair, and replacement were nearly twice as expensive for Windows computers compared to Macintosh computers based on total time reported and the per minute cost of the support person. It is clear from industry research and reports that switching from Macintosh to Windows does not result in any support cost savings, but actually results in increased support costs.

As an interesting side note, a number of US school districts have switched their administration computers from Windows to Macintosh. As the software used for school administration (similar to our Trillium and SAP) are Windows only applications, they are run on the Macintosh computers using Windows virtualization (Boot Camp, Parallels, or VMware Fusion). These school districts report that the software runs better with less crashes under virtualization on the Mac, and that support costs and TCO have decreased, while Return on Investment ROI has increased.

• Part of the increased support costs for Windows computers is the prevention and eradication of malware (viruses, trojans, worms, etc.). It was estimated that there were 500,000 new malware threats to Windows computers by the end of 2008, while the threat to Macintosh computers were negligible; there were only 4 reported incidents of malware targeted at the Macintosh platform and these were all “in vitro” lab developments that were never circulated. Estimates of malware threats for Windows and Macintosh computers for 2009 and 2010 are similar.

Over the past year, malware attacks on school districts in North America have become more frequent (Vancouver, BC, January; Chariho School District, RI, May; Lodi Unified School District, CA, May; Berkeley County Schools, WV, August; Jefferson County Schools, WV, August; Robstown Independent School District, TX, September; Crystal Lake District 47 Schools, IL, September) A similar attack hit the TDSB back in 2003 or 2004. In all cases, every Windows computer in these school districts had to be manually “cleansed” by a technician, a process that took from one to four weeks (depending on the size of the school district and the number of Windows computers). In each of these instances, Macintosh computers were not affected.

As an aside, in a recent Twitter posting, you said:

With over 63,000 computers in a PC environment, integrating Macs would be costly & extremely challenging, causing system slowdowns.

To date, the only enterprise network slowdowns related to computers in the Board have involved Windows computers, and frequently due to malware infestations. To the best of my knowledge, there have been no enterprise network slowdowns in the Board attributable to Macintosh computers. [If we base decisions on the track record thus far (and not on specious predictions of the future) should we not be contemplating the elimination of Windows based computers?]

It is clear that the cost of malware prevention and eradication are costs that can add significantly to the support cost of Windows computers. At present, these costs are negligent on the Macintosh platform and are not expected to increase.

Given the above, it is my contention, based on actual industry findings, that the attrition of Macintosh computers from the Board will not result in any cost savings, but may actually contribute to additional costs.

A Quick History of Network Computing in the TDSB

Back in 2000, the TDSB officially declared the Board to be dual platform, with equal support for both Macintosh and Windows computers. It was the mandate of the IT Department to develop an infrastructure that would support both platforms equally in the classroom. Unintentionally or intentionally, the IT Department has failed to meet this mandate. Part of this is because Macintosh support always seemed to be a secondary consideration when implementing the components of our infrastructure; it seemed very obvious that networking strategies and technologies were selected based on their Windows functionality, and the problem of Macintosh functionality with these technologies would happen retroactively. Between 2000 and 2003, I attended several presentations and product demonstrations by our network vendors and consultants in my capacity as a member of the Hardware Standards committee and while working on the CTMI project. When asked about support for Macintosh computers the answer was always “we’re working on that,” or “it’s under development right now.” These, of course, were misleading and easily broken promises. One of the first things that I learned in the IT industry is that you never buy based on promises, or what became known as “vapourware”. Vendors rarely admit shortcomings in their products, particularly if there is a sale involved. It is much easier to make what Mary Poppins would call “pie-crust promises”; easily made and easily broken. Overall, because of the focus on Microsoft technology solutions, there seemed to be a lack of interest in pursuing technologies that were truly cross platform compatible.

Winn Schwartau, one of the world’s top experts on security, privacy, infowar, cyber-terrorism and related topics, explains this phenomena by saying, “Corporations tend to ignore anything but WinTel machines, partly out of habit

and partly because the Dell/HP/Network Associates/Symantec representatives are in their faces every day with next-day promises.” Microsoft and Computer Associates could probably be added to this list of vendors.

You should also be aware that through the CTMI process, schools were actively discouraged and pressured not to select the Macintosh platform by representatives from the IT Department. Schools that did select to remain or adopt the Macintosh platform were delayed until the very end of the CTMI process before being deployed and were further penalized by receiving fewer computers to make up for the difference in acquisition cost between a Dell and a Macintosh workstation, despite the added value in the Macintosh (both in hardware features and in bundled software) and the lower total cost of ownership (TCO). Because of these coercive and inequitable factors, the number of Macintosh computers in our Board is significantly less than if schools were actually allowed to freely select the platform of their choice.

Schools have continued to lack the freedom of choice. In the memo sent this fall to schools due for hardware refresh it was stated that:

Although this project supports iMac to iMac trade-ins or iMac to PC trade-ins, new iMacs cost more than the basic PC that IT provides. Schools wishing new iMacs as replacements must pay the cost difference of $420/computer from school funds. No PC computers will be accepted as trade-ins for new iMacs since there is concern that future initiatives in classrooms may not support the Macintosh platform.

This message was sent in advance of any official decision by the Board concerning the future of Macintosh computers, and again essentially prevents any school being refreshed from obtaining Macintosh computers. Most schools do not have the available funds in their budgets to pay for the cost differential between a Windows and a Macintosh computer when several of them are being replaced at the same time. This consequently forces them either to accept Windows computers or to forgo any hardware refresh. This was the case with my school; we could not come up with a funding solution, even spreading the cost over two years, that would not strip the school of any other curriculum “extras”, such as Scientist in the School or field trips to the ROM, AGO, theatrical performances, etc. This does not represent real free choice of platform, and has forced a major adjustment in our school’s technology plan and deployment of resources. Further, preventing schools with Windows computers to replace them with Macintosh computers again does not allow choice to schools and may be counter to these schools’ technology plans.

By the way, the cost differential cited in the memorandum is inaccurate. The current cost differential was actually $324.18, almost $100 less than that cited. Would this significant amount have made a difference to the decision of some schools?

It should be recognized there are teachers in our Board that are doing incredible things on both Windows and Macintosh computers with their students. However, from my experience and observation, even though our Board is dominantly Windows based, the large majority of our innovative teachers that are integrating ICT into the curriculum believe that the Macintosh platform is better suited for their teaching and student learning (and for the most part, these teachers are very familiar and work with both platforms). These teachers form the nucleus of those who actively participate, discuss, and share on ICT.tel. It would be a shame to see this innovation and leadership discouraged as a result of a forced change in platforms.

As much of the decision to eliminate Macs from the Board seems based on erroneous assumptions and conclusions not supported by current research, reports, and cost analysis in the IT industry, I believe that further investigation and research are needed at the Board before making this decision.

In conclusion, I would be pleased to have the opportunity to meet with you, the Associate Director, Lee Stem, interested Board Trustees, Kevin Bradbeer (Coordinator, ICT), and any other interested parties to discuss this matter.

Respectfully yours,

Scott Baker
Teacher
Pringdale Gardens
Former ICT Consultant

References

IBM’s Strategic Interest in Macs Goes Beyond Pilot Program, 2008 (http://www.roughlydrafted.com/2008/04/18/ibms-strategic-interest-in-macs-goes-beyond-pilot-program/)

Teaching, Learning and Computing Study, University of California (http://www.crito.uci.edu/tlc/html/findings.html)

8 Pfeiffer Consulting: Mac/Windows: Cost and Productivity Analysis, 2006 (http://www.macdailynews.com/index.php/weblog/comments/9080/)

10 Is There Life Beyond Windows? Pros, Cons and Costs of the Major Operating Systems, 2009 (http://www.nashnetworks.ca/pros-cons-and-costs-of-operating-sys.htm)

Eight Financial Reasons Why You Should Use Mac OS: Mac OS is the
hands-down operating system winner, from the perspective of cost
effectiveness, 2008 (http://www.cio.com/article/127050/Eight_Financial_Reasons_Why_You_Should_Use_Mac_OS)

6 13 Going above and beyond – The category breaker: Apple’s MacTel, 2006 (http://www.networkworld.com/best/2006/022706bestbreaker-schwartau.html?page=1)

Mac vs. Windows in business case study: Macs have 1/3 fewer problems that are solved 30% faster, 2008 (http://macdailynews.com/index.php/weblog/comments/17427/)

Intel-based Mac Computers in Education: Research and Findings; GRUNWALD ASSOCIATES LLC. , 2007 (http://images.apple.com/education/docs/it/Apple-IntelbasedMac.pdf)
Why K-12 IT Managers and Administrators Are Embracing the Intel-Based Mac, 2007 (http://www.techlearning.com/techlearning/pdf/specialadvertisingsection/APL102_R5b_newweb.pdf)

Is There Life Beyond Windows? Pros, Cons and Costs of the Major Operating Systems, 2009 (see above)
Kaspersky Security Bulletin Statistics 2008
(http://www.viruslist.com/en/analysis?pubid=204792052#9)
Sophos Security Threat Report 2009: Prepare for this year’s new threats, 2009 (https://secure.sophos.com/security/whitepapers/index.html)

US School Districts Suffer Virus Attacks, 2009 (http://www.spamfighter.com/News-12445-US-School-Districts-Suffer-Virus-Attacks.htm)
FBI: Virus suspected in school thefts, 2009 (http://www.nwherald.com/articles/2009/09/24/r_81bg6yrarwyi8zmka9p1q/index.xml)
Windows virus knocks out Vancouver school computers for three weeks and counting; Macs unaffected, 2009 (http://www.macdailynews.com/index.php/weblog/comments/19946/)

The Unavoidable Malware Myth: Why Apple Won’t Inherit Microsoft’s Malware Crown, 2008 (http://www.roughlydrafted.com/2008/04/01/the-unavoidable-malware-myth-why-apple-wont-inherit-microsofts-malware-crown/)

Appendix 1: Curriculum Vitae Abstract — Scott Baker

Board Committees and Responsibilities
➢ Member of the TDSB IT Hardware Standards committee, 2001 – 2003
➢ Member of New Teacher Support Group, 2001 – 2003
➢ Member of the Community Based Resource Model (CBRM) Technology Committee, Student and Community Services, 2001 – 2002
➢ TDSB-Wide Staff Development Committee (Rotating Chair), 1999 – 2000
➢ Co-Chair TDSB Internet/Intranet Committee, 1999 – 2000
➢ Program Supervisor (duties equivalent to Principal) for Elementary Computer Programs, Continuing Education Department, Fall 1995 – August 2000
➢ Interview and Selection Panel for Field Services Supervisors, IT Department
➢ Interview and Selection Panel for Teachers Specially Assigned, Computers in Education (Former Scarborough Board)
➢ Interview, hire, supervise, and evaluate Waterloo University co-op, 1993 – 2000, and high school co-op students, 1993 – 2001

Support Materials and Resources
➢ Lead Writer, School Based Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) Planning: A Supplement to the School Improvement Process support document, 2003
➢ Author, School Based Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) Planning Web Site, part of the Exemplary Practices section of the TDSB School Improvement Web Site, 2003 (original link – http://tdsbweb/sip/Resources/Practices/ict/home.htm)
➢ Author, School Web Page Hosting on the Internet support document (last revised June 2003), downloadable from Program Adaptations, ICT, Connected Teacher)
➢ Author, Integrating ICT into Schools, a TDSB on-line (PLP-qualified) course
➢ Author of Macintosh (OS 9.x, HiRes Macintosh Manager) support documents/training materials for the Computer Technology Migration Initiative (CTMI), 2003
➢ Author of Macintosh (OS 9.x, HiRes Macintosh Manager) web pages for the Computer Technology Migration Initiative (CTMI) support web site, 2003
➢ Documentation for Report Cards (Scarborough, TDSB Stand-Alone)
➢ Contributed to the development of Board Policies (Online Code of Conduct, School Web Sites)
➢ Assisted in the development of TDSB Information Technology Standards and Indicators of Effectiveness
➢ Development of curriculum-based software, 1993 – 1996

Professional Memberships
➢ Educational Computing Organization of Ontario (ECOO)
• Member since December 1993
• Treasurer, February to December, 2007, and from 1998 – 2000;
managed assets of over $300,000
➢ Special Interest Group – Computers in Education Leadership (SIG-Ceil),
1999 – 2007
– Executive Member and Treasurer, 1999 – 2006
➢ Central Ontario Computing Association (COCA), Ministry of Education and Training Liaison Committee, 1998 – 2003
➢ ECOO representative, Computers for Schools Ontario Advisory Board,
2000 –2001

Professional Development
➢ ICT workshop presenter for the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), 1997 – 2008
➢ Presenter for New Teacher Support Group, Reporting Student Progress,
2003 – 2004
➢ Instructor for Curriculum Planner training, 2001–2003
➢ Instructor for WiggleWorks Early Literacy, 1996–2003
➢ Annual pre-conference workshop presenter for the Educational Computing Organization of Ontario (ECOO), 1994 – 2003
➢ Collaborated in the planning and delivery of the Academic Services Associates (Elementary) and Academic Services Contacts (Secondary) profession development program, 2000 – 2003
➢ Assisted in the planning, organization, and administration of central professional development program for Academic Services, 2000 – 2002
➢ Planned, organized and administered, in consultation with TSAA, professional development programs for school administrators to assist them with the use of IT in their role of Principal or VP, and to assist them to plan for the effective use of ICT in their school planning, Fall 2001, Spring 2002
➢ Co-ordinated and administered TDSB-wide professional development program for Academic Services, 1999 – 2000 [in addition to planning, organizing, and administering the professional development courses for Academic Services in the East EO]
➢ Planned, organized, and administered central professional development program for Computers in Education/Academic Services, East EO, 1993 – 1999 (Scarborough Board and early TDSB amalgamation)
➢ Instructor for many of the Academic Services Professional Development programs, 1994–2003
➢ ICT presenter for Library AQ courses (for Sandi Zwaan and Carol Koechlin)

5 thoughts on “Letter to Chris Spence from Scott Baker

  1. Scott, I want to thank-you for the cogent and comprehensive arguments you make in support of retaining Macs in the TDSB. Based on what I read here, our knowledge and experiences are very similar, leading to essentially the same conclusions. Here are the comments I made when I added my name to the online petition “Keep Macs in the TDSB!” at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/keepmacsinthetdsb/signatures

    “In my 20+ years experience as a technical support & systems integration professional I have helped setup and managed systems for both Windows-based PCs and Macs, including networks that included both. These support environments include a multi-location JK-8 non-public school with several locations. In every case where Macs were phased out, total cost of ownership soared, downtimes increased and the percentage of availability of the total number systems was, in fact, diminished rather than increased. In a PC-based environment, more PCs actually means less access to computers resources and a net increase in operating costs, especially for support personnel. This argument is above and beyond the fact that Macs offer education-friendly software that has never been duplicated on a WIndows-based PC.”

    I would look forward to discussing this issue with you further.
    ~Charles F Laframboise

  2. I just couldn’t close this article without pasting a comments…

    First of, thank you for such an insightful and well supported letter. I actually learned a great deal from it.

    Second, I can’t help wondering… what if the board were to approve the recommendation subject to freezing or reducing the cap on the IT budget (based of course on IT’s on assessment)? … requiring IT to deliver equivalent services no matter the number of unpaid overtime hours required to do so, including the Director himself. I wonder what their response would be? It is too easy for them to make recommendations without being held accountable. I thought you made the best point in that IT is responsible for delivering services to their users, not dictating it.

    I hope the truth prevails, because if the TDSB fails in this, they ultimately fail in their responsibility to the students.

    My 2¢

  3. As an IT system administrator, employed by a small Canadian university on the west coast I can completely corroborate the points raised in this letter with my experience. I can’t speak “officially” for the university, but I can relay my own personal experiences:

    We began phasing Macs into the university several years ago and I have noticed that instructors who receive a Macintosh computer log *significantly* fewer support requests with our help desk than those running Windows PCs. A recent virus outbreak on our network required numerous desktop PC reinstalls, while the Macintoshes remained unaffected. Science faculty, who used to require both a PC w/Windows (for MS Office among other things) and a Unix workstation for their work, can now have both systems in one box thanks to OS X. While the initial cost of a Mac is slightly more than a comparable PC, the TCO is much lower.

    Macs support *all* of the open network standards that the Internet is built on, and interoperate with a number of the proprietary protocols employed by Microsoft. We have had no major issues integrating Macs into our Novell network for instance.

    If the TDSB is having difficulty managing a large number of Macintoshes, then may I suggest that the problem likely lies with the system administration staff and not with the technology. Macintosh computers run OS X, a derivative of the Unix operating system. There are a number of remote management tools available for Unix (and by extension OS X) that simplify the management of large-scale workstation (aka Macintosh) deployments (cfengine and others).

    In my experience, when someone has complained about the interoperability and maintainability of OS X, it’s because they aren’t sufficiently familiar with the platform (nor any other Unix-based derivative).

  4. You need to understand one thing and one thing only. The people in this IT department do not care about the following:
    • Apple (Mac OS X)
    • Linux (which ever distro)
    • Sun
    • SGI
    • *nixes of any variant
    • Your views or thoughts if they go against what is said

    They only care about the product if the word Microsoft is in front of it, and only if its running Windows. It helps them build their support empire and dictate the school board the way they want. They paint a picture of lower cost up front, but over time they will need to hire more employees to support the increased number of problems associated with Windows, thus growing their dynasty.

    They preach, live, speech, and love everything by Microsoft. Its not about whether it works or not, as they always state that it will. The sad part is there is zero accountability to these folks and its our tax dollars they continually waste to prove (disprove) their theories to get what they want for their benefit. Its sickening to think they are in essence short handling the thousands of students within this school board, and we as a city are paying for their ignorance.

  5. Pingback: School District Removes Macs in Favor of PCs, Teachers Protest! « Wired Educator

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