Jeremy Armstrong has had to take some big leaps. As Team Lead for the 7 person IT Support team at Sisense, he’s helped lead the company through two major migrations in the past two years: From Windows to Mac and from a legacy Apple device management solution to Kandji.
All-in with Apple
Sisense started making the move to Mac when the company had to go fully remote. With a few exceptions in the C-suite and among VPs, most of the company’s employees had been using Windows computers that were bound to on-prem Active Directory. When the company had to suddenly switch to a completely remote workforce, “we started exploring MacBooks,” Armstrong says.
Once they’d made that commitment, they had to re-examine another one: They already had an MDM solution in place to manage their Mac computers. But that solution wasn’t working for them.
“We were running into a lot of issues with that platform—a lot of instabilities, out-of-the-box device enrollment didn’t work, just all kinds of things.” Between those issues and the complexities of deployment, the team didn’t relish the idea of relying on that solution to manage the sudden infusion of MacBooks.
“I have a seven-person IT group, and we've got 800-plus employees in the company. So my goal is to make my team as efficient as possible. When it's taking half a day or more and constant support tickets just to update a package, that's not efficient.”
With the decision to roll out new Macbooks and a cumbersome management tool, that time crunch was only going to get worse.
Jeremy ArmstrongTeam Lead, IT Support”I have a seven-person IT group, and we've got 800-plus employees in the company. My goal is to make my team as efficient as possible.”
There was also the challenge of configuring and shipping MacBooks to the suddenly dispersed workforce. They were shipping computers to the homes of IT members, who would spend at least 30 minutes to set up each one. Failures were common in the enrollment, which meant the IT team would download and install packages and applications themselves. It was an enormous time suck.
Tech support for their existing device management solution was no help. “If we reached out, we weren't getting too far.”
“We were constantly told to go to their online community. But I don't have time to go ask the forums.
“We were constantly told to go to their online community. But I don't have time to go ask the forums. You're the support people. We want to know why this is happening.”
“That was ultimately the breaking point for me.”
Flipping the Switch
Fortunately, Armstrong’s bosses believe in giving the IT team a lot of latitude. “It's really between me and the team to set the course.” But when he asked his boss what he thought of switching to Kandji, his boss pushed back. “Whoa! Why?”
The back story is that they’d both been through a terrible migration for the management of their 150 Windows computers. “It required one-on-one Zoom meetings with every team member and was just a nightmare.” Armstrong’s boss didn’t relish the idea of going through the same thing with 500 MacBooks. But Armstrong persisted and ultimately got the green light to migrate to Kandji.
Once Armstrong was ready to make the move, the Kandji MigrationAgent made it way easier than he had imagined. When he flipped the switch to begin the migration, “sure enough, those devices just started flooding right into Kandji. In all, we migrated over 500 devices with almost no intervention. It was really smooth.”
In all, we migrated over 500 devices with almost no intervention—it was really smooth.”
Deploying new MacBooks is now simple and fast. International locations do full zero-touch deployments. In the US his team performs what they call “white-glove” deployments: They open up the new computers, check that everything is set up perfectly after enrollment, then send them out.
“We often have new-hire classes of 10 to 15 people, so our teams take that extra step to make sure everything's good. That way, when we're doing our onboarding Zoom meetings, you don’t get one person who says, ‘I can't sign into Slack.’ They white-glove it to make sure that never happens.”
The difference between Kandji and the old solution: Now things just work. The IT team onboarded somewhere north of 400 people in 2021 that way.
Once that onboarding is done, Armstrong says Kandji requires almost no intervention.
“I pop into the Kandji support chat and, boom, there's an audit-and-enforce script.”
“The Auto Apps do their thing—we don't really worry about that. We have a couple of custom apps, a few custom scripts here and there that we update. But after the onboarding, we don't do too much in there.”
When he does need a script to do one thing or another, “I pop into the Kandji support chat, and boom, there's an audit-and-enforce script.”
“It takes five minutes. I set it up and I'm done and I can go about whatever the next thing is.”
Armstrong estimates his team is saving at least two full workdays each month just on the new Mac setup. Meanwhile, apps are kept up to date and every IT team member feels comfortable using Kandji when they need to get a job done.