In The Trenches
Volume Number: 21 (2005)
Issue Number: 11
Column Tag: Programming
In The Trenches
Talking With One Man on the Front Lines of Mac IT
by Michael R. Harvey
First in a New Monthly Series!
Ever been to Macworld, WWDC, MacRetreats, or an Apple Certified Training course. If the answer is
yes, then chances are you have met Schoun Regan. Author of the Mac OS X Server Visual Quick Pro
guide from Peachpit Press, editor for most of the Apple Pro Training series books focusing on Mac OS
X and Mac OS X Server, Schoun is one of the most powerful forces behind technical training and Mac
OS X in the industry today. The list of people he calls his colleagues is a veritable who's who of
the Mac OS X high end consulting community. His ideas about the merging of training and consulting
surrounding Mac OS X have been accepted by many who listen to him speak, hire his company to develop
courseware, or have them consult on deployments of Mac OS X and Mac OS X Server. Arguably, he has
been associated with training and Apple operating system software for about as long as the Macintosh
has been around. We recently had the chance to sit down with Schoun and get his take on the current
state, and future direction, of Macintosh in the enterprise.
MacTech: Where did you get your start in the IT business, and how long have you been at
Schoun Regan: I started out at Goodyear Research, where they were testing the strength and
elasticity of tire materials. We were able to play with all sorts of dangerous equipment, data
collection cards, IBM-XTs, Token Ring networks, AppleTalk, and Novell. It was a blast. After ten
years supporting scientists, chemists, and engineers there, I moved on, earned one of the first ACT
certifications, and established The Mac Trainers, and later ITInstruction.com. I have taught, and
supported Mac OS X/Server installations all over the country, and speak at many Macintosh related
events throughout the year.
MT: Apple has been making serious inroads into the enterprise computing space over the
last few years. How do you think they got to where they are now?
SR: Hard work and innovation. The engineers started understanding the importance of
integration with other platforms. They are starting to listen more, and great things are happening
because of that. Take Access Control Lists in Tiger, for example. The big things get the headlines,
but it's the little things that administrators deal with every day that change their minds. Take a
look at http://www.apple.com/server/documentation. Over 1200 pages of detailed documentation on Mac
OS X Server, FREE. The Mac OS X Server team is headed up by some very forward thinking people, and
it shows. Apple Certified Training courses also help to spread the news that Apple is a player in
MT: What were some of the challenges they had to overcome to get where they are today?
SR: Myopic mindsets with regard to Mac OS X Server had to go, and it did very quickly.
Another issue they had to change was customer impressions. For a Fortune 500 company administrator
to say, "We'll never have Macs in our company", is indicative of the larger problem of insular
thinking. Apple's sales force is working diligently to alter that perception. It's a tough road with
plenty of closed doors displaying "No Solicitors" signs. But those at Apple persevere. I recently
spoke to a person who left Sun computing and they remarked his Apple SE seemed genuinely happy to go
above and beyond the call of duty. There are not so much technical challenges as personnel
challenges. The team heading up Sales, especially for Enterprise, is outstanding. I would attribute
a significant change in customer mentality towards Mac OS X to these people.
MT: So how do companies make the switch, on an Enterprise level, so to speak?
SR: It's not a simple process. Getting the buy-in of the department manager or CIO is a
great start. You have a section of the administrative world that still sees Macs plus AppleTalk
multiplied by messy networks equals "we don't understand them". I once told the CIO of a company,
when speaking about Apple entering the larger business markets, "Apple does not deserve my loyalty,
but they have earned my respect." Someone needs to be in front of these administrators and let them
know that Mac OS X Server is here to stay. It's interesting to see their response when shown what
Mac OS X and Mac OS X Server can do. The market is ripe for a change, and Apple knows this. You have
to more hardware and more staff ensures job security. Mac OS X Servers are a great start. Laptops
and Mac OS X desktops can come later. Selling the hardware is only part of the solution. For someone
to change over, a long-term plan must be in place meeting the criteria I spoke of earlier.
MT: What do you see as the bumps on the road to getting there?
SR: I would guess that the percentage of sales of Xserve and Xserve RAIDs cannot come
close to iPod sales. However, you have the opportunity to grow other aspects of the business off
sales of Mac OS X Server related products; training, repair kits, extended warranties, solutions,
etc. When servers go in, Mac OS X soon follows. Ergo, listening to customers about issues
surrounding Mac OS X Server should be taken seriously. Security is an enormous factor. Apple has
fantastic security architecture. Do we see that in Apple's marketing literature or on the web site?
Apple has an Active Directory plug-in allowing Mac OS X to integrate seamlessly with an Active
Directory domain. Why this is not promoted better in Windows based PC magazines and web sites is
MT: So, let's say you are king of the world; what would you have Apple do to improve their
position in large scale IT departments?
SR: Fully support the extended schema by both offering phone support and training to allow
easier integration of Windows clients. Packet signing and other similar services that Active
Directory offers to its clients. Spend the money and purchase Thursby Software outright. I know
that's a Microsoftee thing to do, but they have exactly what Apple needs, and they'll gain some
talent found nowhere else in the industry. Develop WWTC, a World Wide Technical Conference. This can
encompass WWDC, the World Wide Developer Conference and WWIT, a World Wide Information Technology
Conference. I'd love to head that up. With the move to Intel, both aspects of this transition should
be explored. This conference would take the IT world by storm.
MT:What is your perception of Apples move to the Intel processor? Good move or bad?
SR: Heh. Buy Apple stock.
MT: Thanks for taking the time do talk with us.
SR: My pleasure. I think this type of forum is productive. There are many Macintosh IT
professionals out there, and I know many of them. You should hear some of the things they have to
MT: Cool. Want a job?
Editor's note: Shortly after this interview, we actually did offer Schoun the job.
Beginning with the December issue of MacTech, each month Schoun will be interviewing a Mac IT
manager, and sharing with you their strategies for dealing with their most pressing issues. Be
looking for "In The Trenches" each month in MacTech!!
"Honest to God, no s#@&, there I was." Thus begins the story of Reviews Editor Michael R.
Harvey, a man who only wishes he could have slept his way to the top. From his humble beginnings
as a helicopter crew chief in the U.S. Army, serving in both the Panama invasion and the first Gulf
War, to UC Santa Barbara, earning a B.S. in Aquatic Biology, he gained his Mac experience in various
places. From his early super hero days as the computer go to geek in freshman dorm, on to several
positions in the undergrad labs on campus and with various consulting firms, to his current secret
identity as the Senior Systems Technician at the Ventura County Star newspaper. Add to that other
early jobs as a pizza delivery boy, and bouncer, and Michael was perfectly poised to take the
Reviews Editor job in July 2002, wrangling both writers and vendors into line to be able to bring to
you reviews of cool, and yes, even useful, products (even penning a few choice pieces himself).
You're welcome. Contact him at email@example.com