What they use depends upon how the network was built. If the network builder was a Mac person, probably the DMS in use will be a Mac-oriented system with token support for Windows. If the builder was a Windows person, the opposite will be true.
I haven't yet found a DMS which provides equal support for both Windows and Macintosh workstations. There are a couple of vendors who provide pretty good shared functionality across both platforms, but due to basic differences in Windows and Mac architectures, there are no systems with 100% matching functionality.
So what do you do?
ANALYZE YOUR TICKETS:
If you don't already know what your top 5 trouble ticket topics are, now's the time to find out. Does your team spend a lot of time re-imaging PCs? Do most of your tickets require assistance with some feature of Microsoft Office? Are you having problems determining who has the most current Windows or OS X security patches?
Reviewing the last year's worth of trouble tickets isn't a fun task, but you need to know what support functions are most critical to your end user community. Different DTMS vendors have different strengths. One vendor may be great at imaging but not so great at software inventory, for example, while their competitor may only offer so-so imaging but incredibly detailed inventory capabilities.
CHOOSE THE FEATURES:
Once you know what your top 5 trouble ticket issues are, you'll know what tools you'll need to solve them. This will allow you to decide what DMS features are really important to you. The basic features I generally review with my clients are:
Workstation Discovery: Can it find workstations across the entire network? This is a biggie. While I don't expect any DTMS to be able to discover 100% of the PC and Mac workstations on a network, I shouldn't have to fiddle with more than, say, 15% to 20% of a given set of workstations at most.
Inventory of discovered workstations: Again, this is one of the big reasons for having a DTMS. What software and hardware are on each workstation?
Software inventory and licensing reports: Do you know how many copies of Office or Acrobat Pro are licensed vs in use, or are you simply making an educated guess?
Software usage reports: This is a bit subtler than just software licensing. How much is each licensed application being used? A lot of organizations buy extended versions of Microsoft Office, but only a fraction of the users make use of Publisher or Access. Being able to run a report to see which users never touch anything in Office other than Word, Excel, and Outlook could save your company a lot of money. Why license software that's not needed?
Remote Control: Most IT help desks don't have a large enough staff to physically visit each user's desk. Being able to remote into an end user's workstation is incredibly helpful, and saves everyone a good deal of time and trouble.
Keep in mind that remote control is a politically sensitive component. Depending upon your company's corporate culture, you will probably want to configure remote control to (a) ask the end user if it's OK to take control of their machine, and (b) provide some sort of visual and/or audible indicator that the machine is being remote-controlled.
Software Distribution: While it's possible in a Windows environment to push applications out via Group Policy, doing so for Macintosh workstations is a different story. Does your contemplated DTMS allow for pushing out applications to both PC and Mac users?
Patch Management: How do your users apply OS patches and updates? Is there a corporate policy? If so, how is it enforced? Some DTMS vendors allow for a unified approach to patching each platform (PC and Mac) so that you run a report to find out who may not have applied the latest security hot patch.
Imaging: How heavily does your IT help desk rely on imaging/re-imaging workstations of both flavors? Does the DTMS handle rolling out a whole new workstation image? Is there a way to provision a "universal image" that can roll out Windows across a range of different workstation hardware platforms? Can it roll out and/or provision images for OS X machines?
Monitoring and Alerts: Some DTMS can monitor workstations for issues such as rapidly filling-up hard drives or virus/malware attacks, alerting the help desk automatically.
Device Control/Security: Do you work in a high security environment? Is there a need to disable USB ports, or disable specific types of USB devices (such as storage devices)?
Keep in mind...not every company will need all of the above features.
DETERMINE FEATURE PARITY:
Once you know what features are important to you, evaluate whether a potential DTMS provides full parity of those critical features across both PC and Mac platforms.
If a DTMS doesn't provide full parity, you need to decide whether or not this is something you can live with. For example, your shop may not need to reimage Mac workstations very often, so a DTMS that only provides PC imaging may work out just fine for you.
ASK HARD QUESTIONS:
OK, now that you know what features are important to you, and across which platforms, make up a questionnaire asking potential DTMS vendors which features and platforms they support. Score the resulting responses and pick the top 2 or 3 scoring vendors.
HAVE A "BAKE-OFF":
Design a live evaluation for each vendor in which they have to install an evaluation copy of the software and prove to you that they can handle the tasks set out in the questionnaire. Some typical challanges:
- Discover 80% of the workstations on our production network.
- Demonstrate remote installation of your management agent on both a Windows 7 PC and a Mac OS X workstation.
- Roll out [a sample application] to both a PC and a Mac.
- Provide software inventory for both a PC and Mac.
Typically, discovery type tasks will be run against the production network after-hours, while demonstration sof remote agent installation, application rollout, and detailed software inventory are generally limited to either a set of workstations in a lab environment -or- a tightly defined set of live workstations that are not production critical.
Once you've seen the products in action, you'll be able to make an informed decision, rather than an uninformed guess, about which DTMS will suit your environment the best.