AFP548 Site News March 3, 2014 at 8:56 am

Early 2014 Products and Platforms Poll – Results

It’s always great to get help from a community of your peers, and our recent survey was an attempt to start having us all check in every once in a while as a group with data about how we maintain and provide management for our customers. Inspired by questions about what ‘server’ to host many of these cross-platform services on, the focus was to capture 1. what products people are using, and 2. what hosts were used to provide those services. Demographic information was optional, but helpful to give some background about the requirements different organizations have when choosing platforms and products(only a handful of folks DIDN’T self-identify with one of the options).

Organization Breakdown

The Mac Admin community was pretty well reflected by the poll results, even though it was capped at only 100 responses this time. Please don’t take all of this too seriously, as our sample size is obviously very small and could have been presented in a considerably more scientific way. Education weighed in heavily(which has long been a traditional Apple stronghold,) with a little over half of the submissions, and folks in the self-identified ‘SMB’ space made up just under a quarter. Looking at where folks are from, we probably should come out and admit to having an obvious bias right off the bat: AFP548 is mainly popular in the US, and over 3/4ths of the respondents filled out the survey right from our website. Then there are the other avenues through which the word got out, which in this day and age means Twitter. One of our friends with many followers in EDU circles drove a few of the respondents, to further tilt the responses towards that environment.

Respondents by Location

Some of the things you’d see called out after a survey like this are the ‘marquee’ headlines: over two-thirds of folks are using NetBoot, so one could assume imaging (and/or network homes) are still a priority in many places. DeployStudio is the next highest in popularity, trailed by Munki and Reposado. It would be safe to say we stacked the deck a fair bit by listing only three non-free products, but this would still show the proclivity to come up with low cost or built-in solutions. Some would argue the commercial products return their value in lower training and support costs, but we’d leave it to a more in-depth study to see how much this sways the actual decision of which product to employ.

Products Bar Graph by Percent

Some folks asked why OS X Server and the Profile Manager product in particular weren’t specifically called out, but using the Mac as a hosting platform almost implies you’d also use the Server application, and over 2/3rds of folks out there are using it for some purpose. (From the comments, one place will soon relegate it to only being a build node for the Jenkins ‘master’ running on Red Hat Enterprise Linux.) The Red Hat family weighed in heavily, with CEntOS tying RHEL’s 12 checkmarks. Ubuntu and Debian made a fair showing, and the Google-ecosystem friendly AppEngine got a call-out in the comments.

Now comes the interesting(to me) correlations between the types of groupings you’d find once you break these numbers out. Again, this isn’t a rigorous scientific study, so grains of salt should be applied liberally.:
• Oddly enough, Windows was in use in less than 20% of environments, and mostly Education at that, which contradicts possible notions that EDU traditionally uses more open source, and Corporations are more Windows-reliant.
• Of the folks using Munki, over 3/4ths are hosting on some platform of Linux/*Nix. (It also may be obvious that few folks are using an open source reporting/dashboard product like Margarita alongside JAMF.)
• 8% of organizations are using both Munki and JAMF, and while three environments use Puppet alongside the Casper suite, only three environments DON’T use Munki with Puppet.
• JAMF’s Casper Suite is in use in over a third of all environments, although iOS could be making up a portion of that. Casper also tends to be used in an environment where services are hosted on Macs. To put it another way, 75% of Casper users reported hosting at least one service on a Mac, although I’m certain some of that would be the very popular (and OS X only) DeployStudio.

If you’d like to take a swing at parsing the data yourself, raw results can be downloaded in CSV format here, or pick tab-separated or Excel from this page – just click the button in the upper right corner.

On a final note, something that I was surprised by was, for a company that doesn’t officially support Mac OS X, Puppet was in use in more places than either Absolute Manage or FileWave. Who knows what it would look like if they catered specifically to our market?

About Allister Banks

Allister has had the honor of writing a book with Charles Edge (http://url.aru-b.com/packtbook), an article or two for MacTech Magazine, and speaking at conferences like MacAdmins Conference at Penn State. He lives in NYC, contributes to various open source projects, and speaks enough Japanese to order food.

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