Tassie cops switch to Mac

Macworld Australia Staff
10 December, 2010
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We’ve recently featured some companies that have implemented iPads into their businesses on AMW – such is the power of the new platform that  enterprise customers are backing its success despite being only months old. But what about Apple’s other, more mature, platform – the Mac? It turns out organisations are still switching to the Mac, despite Apple having recently killed off the Xserve.

One particularly interesting organisation that recently made the move is Tasmania’s Department of Police and Emergency Management – which encompasses the state’s Police, SES and Forensic Science Service. Over the past year, the organisation has replaced each and every PC with a Mac, so we wanted to ask them what prompted the switch, and how the changeover has gone. DPEM manager of information technology services Murray Lawler answered our questions.

AMW: Why was the initial decision made to switch to Mac?

ML: The move to Apple forms one part of a comprehensive infrastructure and application upgrade for Police, SES and Forensic Science Service Tasmania, or the Department of Police and Emergency Management (DPEM).

In June 2009 the DPEM decided to transition from a leased computing fleet arrangement to a purchase arrangement. Moving to a purchasing arrangement provided a cost benefit over the existing lease arrangements.

In July/August 2009, DPEM opened a tender with the objective of identifying a Computing Appliance Provider who would replace our existing leased contract provider in the Desktop Space. The term of the new contract was four years.

Apple was selected as the successful tenderer for the four year computing appliance contract because:

  • Apple provided a far superior tender response to other vendors, paid attention to detail, and took the time to get to know the business. This is something we wanted from an emergency services perspective. While other vendors were just interested in putting boxes on desks, Apple took the time to find out how DPEM worked before it offered a solution.
  • Apple displayed a greater overall value – it just provided more value within the platform and came with “more in the box”.
  • It had low recurrent licensing costs, and it was obvious that moving to Apple made it possible to begin transition planning to further enable the reduction of infrastructure and application costs.
  • During field testing the unibody MacBooks demonstrated that they were rugged and could withstand the rigours of operational policing.
  • The Macs were not as susceptible to malware as windows machines, and in general provide a higher level of security than Windows.
  • They integrated well with our current infrastructure environment.
  • They were easier to use.
  • The pricing that Apple offered was as competitive and in most cases better than the majority of PC manufacturers who responded to the tender.

What became obvious from the tender process was that a move to Apple was more than just an exercise in who could provide the cheapest boxes to put on desks. Instead, a move to Apple is an entirely new value proposition and does require a significant shift in your thinking. In my opinion this revolution in thinking, and in general doing things differently is what a lot of Enterprises and IT Departments are getting stuck with. After 20 years of inertia, it’s difficult to blow off the cobwebs and get things moving again. However, if Enterprises and CIOs achieve this revolution in thinking then it opens up a gateway to new possibilities, not the least of which is the ability to reduce overall IT costs by investing in low cost, common standards based infrastructure and application development environments other than the defacto standard.

AMW: Are all Windows PCs being replaced? How many Macs are being purchased across the organisation?

ML: All Windows desktop and laptop machines are being replaced. We are in the process of deploying approximately 1000 iMacs and MacBook Pros.

AMW: Have you run into any troubles in the transition process?

DPEM: It’s no secret that we have a lot of legacy systems and no matter what platform we were transitioning to whether it was Windows 7, Linux or Apple, there would have been some types of issues. Irrespective of this, there have not been any major technical issues transitioning our environment from Windows to Apple Macs to date. I could say that I was surprised at how smoothly everything was transitioning given our legacy environment but, I also realise that there has been a lot of assistance from Apple and hard work from my team to ensure that the transition has been smooth.

Before we adopted Apple we had to do our research and ensure that every application we currently had would work in our environment and that the Macs would fit in well with our existing infrastructure.

If I had to mention some issues that stood out, they would primarily revolve around misinformation and fear rather than anything valid or technical. There was a lot of misinformation, fear and raw emotion generated once the move to Apple was announced. Staff were concerned that Apple equipment would not work in the Enterprise and that Apple equipment on the desktop or in the server space would in some way affect interoperability with other government systems; as a consequence they wouldn’t be able to get through their daily tasks. Some of our external partners were also concerned that the move to Apple would in some way cost them more in order to ensure ongoing service provision with our department.

All of these concerns of course were unfounded and probably based on a perception of Apple and networking from the early 1990s. However, because of the range and volume of concerns, and in order to validate Macs as an Enterprise option, the Department had ITS (our Information Technology Services division) and Apple undertake a post-tender, three stage pilot process through which we had to scientifically and conclusively prove that the Apple machines would work in our environment. At each stage of the process the Macs easily met all the required performance criteria. Obviously the playing field had changed since the early ’90s and Apple was now an Enterprise game changer.

Many staff members were also afraid of change, moving from Windows Operating systems, which they had used to for approximately 20 years to OS X Snow Leopard seemed insurmountable to them. However, we had anticipated this issue and planned a solid, targeted training program for all users. For the majority of users, once they pass through the training they no longer fear Apple computers and in fact most are quite fond of them.  I certainly couldn’t take any of the new Macs away from staff without significant protest and I had a huge number of volunteers for the pilot-testing program.

User training is sequenced to occur before their business unit roll-out and we are approaching the Mac deployment on a business unit by business unit basis, where computer types and departmental images are allocated and assembled according to operational need rather than the one-size fits all traditional models for the enterprise. This has provided significant operational benefit as each business unit actually obtains the computer form-factors and application images optimised for their daily business. In addition, it cuts the enterprise into manageable deployments based on functionality and I believe this is much easier for administration. Apple equipment is particularly suited to this type of deployment.

AMW: What sort of training was needed for the IT division, and the rest of the organisation, to transition to Macs?

ML: A company called Key Options provided all IT staff with targeted Apple training relevant to their work requirements. This training ran for approximately six weeks. Key Options delivered a high standard of training and provided exceptional trainers; we held all the Apple Technical training onsite.

For DPEM staff in general, ITS created a one-day training program, with additional supplementary programs provided upon request or as part of our regular training program for people that may want a refresher, or for power and advanced users who want more in-depth instruction. Training updates and refresher courses are also offered on an annual basis.

Apple and Key Options have also provided us with extensive training resources and we have found the Apple online training resources at http://www.apple.com/findouthow/mac/ to be a good basic training supplement for new-to-Apple users to review prior to their training.

AMW: Are you running Snow Leopard Server, and on what equipment? Has Apple’s decision to discontinue the Xserve left you high and dry?

ML:We are running a number of instances of Snow Leopard Server on Xserves, and a few Mac Mini Servers primarily to support collaboration. We have support arrangements for these servers for many years to come, and I have complete faith in Apple that they will continue to provide services and full support in the Enterprise space.

In the interim, between the old Xserve line and a new hosting solution or whatever emerges in the Enterprise space I don’t really mind using Mac Pros; they have a slightly higher standard of performance compared to the XServes, (albeit without LOM and dual redundant power supplies), so if I need any additional infrastructure in this space I would be happy to purchase a Mac Pro.

However, ultimately I would like to see Apple or a third party provide a solid Enterprise class computing solution to cover the Xserve void similar to that with the Promise RAID, although I do feel that Apple is pursuing a new computing paradigm for the Enterprise and users in general,  so I would like to get a feel for what they are developing in this space before I commit to a future direction.

AMW: Is Tasmania Police using other Apple gear – iPhones, iPads, etc?

ML:DPEM is using iPhones in the Executive and some operational areas. Trials are looking into the deployment of iPads; Apple has provided an Executive Briefing to Senior Officers on iOS, iPad in the Enterprise and iPad in Education for Academy staff. We have developed a select few operational application prototypes in the iOS space and are assessing their potential and viability. In my opinion the iOS class of devices seems to have extraordinary potential for operational policing and emergency management and personally think that augmented reality is the Policing “killer app” of the future.

I receive several requests a week from users across Police, the SES, and Forensic Science Service Tasmania interested in having ITS deploy specific operational applications for the iPhone and iPad – users can already envisage how iOS devices can supplement their operational effectiveness. It seems iOS has struck a chord with users and demand is growing exponentially.

It takes a lot to contain user enthusiasm in order to apply the right Enterprise controls in the emerging iOS space, but I think we are moving at the right pace to keep the users happy and address administrative detail.



AMW: You noted that Apple ended up offering a cheaper alternative than many other computer companies. How is Apple to deal with on an ongoing basis?

ML: Apple has provided exceptional support in an Enterprise space and in my experience far exceeds anything provided to me by Dell or HP. I would recommend Apple to any CIO or IT Manager. I can always reach my Apple account representative when I require him – he is always available over the phone or through iChat, problems or issues are solved quickly (not that there are many) and Apple product always turns up when expected.


38 people were compelled to have their say. We encourage you to do the same..

  1. JB says:

    Interesting, I teach at a school that now has a CIO (formerly a HP employee!!) who is rapidly ridding the school of Macs due to their expense and inability to provide robust enterprise solutions in a PC dominated world.

    He is enforcing a ‘business model’ of computing services for an educational institution where a beige Microsoft Office and Outlook (oh, and HP hardware) experience is being forced upon tomorrows creative thinkers and todays teachers who are trying to engage kids with the tech they have in their pockets.

    All the while Apple Australia is (I have spoken directly to representatives visiting the school about this plight) are conspicuous by their absence and slowly loosing a rather wealthy and large client!

    Good on Tassie Policing (and Apple) for forward thinking and being able to offer a solution that fits the needs of its users. A novel approach!

  2. Todd says:

    @JB – I think the fact that your CIO is a former HP employee is the biggest reason for the change. I’ve recently priced Apple, Dell, and HP products and Apple education pricing is highly competitive, so that excuse is just a bit of smoke from your CIO sorry to say.

    Here is most likley the reason for his decision – (1) He’s a PC guy, is biased against Macs, and doesn’t have a clue about how to use or support the Mac (2) He probably has a lot of vendor contacts in the PC world and none for Mac (3) Probably has never used a Mac and thinks they are still the same platform they were in 1995.

    BTW – schools don’t need “Enterprise” solutions in the classroom. Sometimes in the back office (Admin), but rarely in the classroom. “Enterprise” solutions are too often nothing more than an overly expensive and complex way to solve a simple problem – just ask NAB about their “Enterprise” solutions that keep falling over.

  3. Damon says:

    This is exactly the sort of article that provides value for my Australian Macworld experience. More of this type of IT journalism might even convince me to resubscribe to AMW magazine! Well done to all concerned.

  4. Andrew says:

    @Todd – as a former IT Manger for a school, they do, in fact, need enterprise solutions to manage classrooms. To keep computers available for students in a consistent manner you are looking at an SLA of 30 minutes or less for classes where students oversubscribe computers. Standardised images (Apple or Windows) are essential to even come close.

    I was also involved in a large scale Mac replacement program – not because they were Apple products as much as this organisation was a victim of the “release of the month” Apple marketing. They had one of nearly every Apple model since the “pizza box” LC. Maintaining OS images was a nightmare.

    Oh, before you ask, I have three Macs myself.

  5. Michael O'Keefe says:

    Great article AMW, it’s also enlightening to see big organisations moving away from pc’s and over to macs. I especially liked the comment,
    “For the majority of users, once they pass through the training they no longer fear Apple computers and in fact most are quite fond of them. I certainly couldn’t take any of the new Macs away from staff without significant protest and I had a huge number of volunteers for the pilot-testing program.”
    Well done to Murray Lawler, you have seen a better product to suit your IT needs and ran with it against opposition a fight well worth the effort and no doubt rewarding for you personally….

  6. Michelle says:

    Perhaps you should canvas the users of the Macs – as someone who is aware, not one of the DPEM employees

  7. Shell says:

    Perhaps before people start praising this initiative we wait to see if the end users are happy with the product. As one that knows people that are employees of DPEM, the majority that have had their HP computer replaced are not happy as the virtualisation that has to be installed on the Mac does not work. ML has a skewed perspective.

  8. John says:

    Last time I looked Apple didn’t produce virtualisation products. The only Virtualisation I know of for the Apple platform is VMWare Fusion, Parallels and Virtual Box. These are not Apple products, and are derived from unrelated companies. They are not related to OSX or IOS and are probably irrelevant to this story. They work across both the Windows, Apple and Linux environment so they are not Apple specific.
    Either way, as all the Virtualisation products have variations that can be used in a data centre or as enterprise wide solutions the issue is more likely to do with the setup or the end user. Having personally used all three Virtualisation products I can certainly say they are robust offerings, but they are certainly not Apple creations.
    Well done to Tasmania Police for making the move, the market and users have moved on. No-one will remember who Microsoft are in 10 years time…..Remember Novell for networking anyone??


  9. Salvatore Cini says:

    These guys are freaking geniuses!
    I saw one of the guys from Tasmania Police IT a year or so ago at Cebit. The move to Mac is only the half of what they are trying to do. I have been following these guys for over a year now, and they are about half way to making their entire environment Microsoft free and they are succeeding. It’s like a template for every organization who want to do more without the high recurrent costs. I hope someone writes a book or does a white paper or something !

  10. Jane - IT within Tasmanian Government says:

    Well this is really quite interesting, as someone who uses a mac at home on a daily basis I can see the benefit that some Apple products would have within the Tasmanian police force, such as iPhones and iPads as mobile terminals to use systems but I cannot see what operational benefit is provided by having a mac on the desktop? Other than a licensing / software cost perspective nothing springs to mind. If DPEM are redeveloping systems then most would be moved to a web based system which we all know is OS agnostic.

    I have heard some mixed feedback from knowing an officer who has an iMac for a pilot, the overall feedback is not that great, and I have heard the implementation needs a lot of work to have low impact on their jobs. I do find it quite interesting they are doing pilots after they have committed to apple as desktop replacement.

    It would take some time to see the cost benefit if they are virtualizing the current desktop machines onto the apples. You still have the cost of the Microsoft Desktop License and the Virtualization software and not to mention that this can cause an SOE nightmare for the IT staff having to look after 2 Desktops one the one piece of hardware.

    I commend Murray Lawler for taking the risk and giving it a shot but the proof will be in the pudding and only time will tell whether DPEM succeeds in exterminating all windows machines out of the agency without negative impact on the daily life of operational police.

    Good luck.


  11. Crock says:

    Talk about not letting the truth get in the way of a good story. This does nothing for the credibility of Australian Macworld.

  12. AMW staff says:

    How so, Crock?

    We heard about the switch to Mac and wanted to find out about the process involved. It’s interesting that a couple of comments have suggested it’s not smooth sailing, but that’s not necessarily evidence of widespread issues.

    We interviewed Murray Lawler for his opinion on the rollout, so this article obviously expresses his views. We’d gladly welcome the views of other DPEM employees (who can remain anonymous if they would prefer) at amwonline@niche.com.au.


  13. The Oracle says:

    What on earth is crock on about? Has the nurse not been around to the ward yet? What an odd outburst with no explanation.

    I applaud the efforts of DPEM to do what they are doing.

    Perhaps the naysayers could provide some proof that the project DPEM are running isn’t working. All they (the one or two) seem to have done is spout a lot of hot air with no actual support to their rant. From actually reading the article, it seems ML actually knows what he’s talking about, and isn’t just some armchair critic with little to no understanding or the project, or current technologies.

    Look forward to seeing how all this pans out. Perhaps a revisit in a few years. I’m hoping we’ll all be pleasantly surprised.

  14. brutus says:

    @ Jane, the licensing/software cost is surely the major benefit, certainly not a minor side note? I don’t think it’s about “exterminating all windows machines” but moving to a more stable and flexible choice of system.
    Please move past the pointless Mac Vs Windows religious battle.
    Users will always experience some difficulty in changing platforms, even upgrading a police officer’s Windows XP machine to Windows 7 would have been a challenge. Appropriate training and assessment of your process will minimise these problems.

  15. HillStreetBlues says:

    Honestly, I read these last few comments and it makes me really mad that a few of the noisy minority have made comments on here that don’t represent anything like reality.
    I am an operational police officer, I sit here, at home on my Macbook Pro, connected to to the internet through my Iphone. I have access to all my applications and my e-mail. Couldn’t do that 12 months ago, couldn’t even read documents coming from the rest of government. Its been a big change. I guess the move to Apple like all major techo like implementations has had issues, but hey, they have been extremely small, and nothing like the 30 or so jobs a week my area had to call in to the help desk for Windows XP and the shitty old applications we had to use (we still have some), and we have had Windows XP for close to 10 years!!!! For a new user like myself, it took a while, “even with training” to work out how to do stuff, but its not a system issue or something I can blame on the guys from IT, its a “learning issue” because I had never used anything other than XP in my whole career. But I can say with the best of certainty, I would never like to go back to a Windows computer again!

    ps. Hey Lynn B, thanks for Online Changing!!! – Its the best.

  16. Korbin says:

    RE: IT within Tasmanian Government

    You guys really can’t say much, stop detracting from ML and his team because you feel sour or you want to score points. Six months ago you were claiming the Iphone and Ipad were ‘toys’, now you admit to using them – go figure!. ML has deserved the good press, his team has worked hard against a lot of opposition, even my own I am ashamed to say, and they have prevailed. From where I stand its Police 10, Government 0 as far as successful implementations go. I hear Police are doing extremely well and I wouldn’t mind looking over more of their product.

    She who has at least one successful deployment can throw the first stone.

  17. Mich says:

    Honestly, I use the Macs at the Police every day, SO I DO KNOW and I love them!

  18. Boogs22 says:

    The fact of the matter is; 1. the Macs work, 2. the Ipads work and 3. the Iphones work because I use them all at DPEM. There are a lot of high profile people in the industry who have their noses out of joint because they said it couldn’t be done. Give up on the misinformation campaign! You have been living the lie for years and selling it to people who didn’t understand how technology worked. You can’t deny reality forever guys or the fact that you have been faking it for years and now need to do real IT, the old excuses won’t cut-it any more. The Macs work, so get over it !

  19. Michael says:

    I got a Mac as part of the DPEM roll-out just recently and I have been using it over the Xmas\New Year break. After a while of getting used to it, I have to say that it is the best machine I have ever used!!!! The changes that have occurred in IT over the last 12 months represent a quantum leap in our computing, the Apple machines are just a small part and the overall changes have great potential for the members at the coal-face. Thanks ITS I really love my Mac.

  20. I luv Macs says:

    If this project is so successful, how come staff who have had a Mac deployed to their desktop (that’s right, they actually have to use it to perform their DPEM work, not just take it home to “play with”) as part of the rollout find it unusable and still use their Windows based PC?

  21. Cap'n says:

    Regardless of the platform that TasPol ended up choosing, I think this is the telling comment:

    “Apple provided a far superior tender response to other vendors, paid attention to detail, and took the time to get to know the business … While other vendors were just interested in putting boxes on desks, Apple took the time to find out how DPEM worked before it offered a solution.”

    ALL I.T. providers, whether they are vendors or internal departments, can learn from that.

  22. Bryan says:

    Well this looks like Apple are trying to make a move for industry standard equipment….so lets wait for the Tas police to sign off on the deal… lets see if apple are all over them like a rash then….best of luck

  23. Xenophos says:

    Interesting thread. Lots of first hand users saying they love it, lots of ‘I know someone who…’ saying it’s bad. Hmmm, who to believe!?

  24. ALF1 says:

    Did someone say iPlod?

  25. user says:

    What a spin on how successful Macs at DPEM are.
    In fact they are more expensive and inefficient in daily use.
    No keyboard mapping with existing systems such as Howard.
    The original O/S 10 couldnt do the job and all MAC boxes have Windows installed.!
    Everything that can’t run on a MAC has to run in a virtual environment making costs higher than anything PC based previously. Users have to go and buy MAC compatible software (if it exists) out of their own budget as well.
    Full consultation by Apple is just marketing spin. It did not occur.
    With budget cuts just announced and staffing cuts expected in the 1000′s to occur over the next 3 years, a good way to save many Millions of Dollars will be to scrap this doomed, and ill thought out project.

  26. Elvis says:

    Looks like the wheels are starting to fall off. When will sumthing substantial be delivered?

  27. Elvis says:

    2 years on, is the project completed?
    No more money from the well. No more MAC rollouts = FAIL.

  28. Roger says:

    Anyway, I hope it all goes well for all involved.
    Major change of any kind always has it’s moments.

  29. harry says:

    The recent rollout of Windows7 on the Mac’s means that IT15 is dead. Massive fail.Doomed from the outset.

  30. Silly People says:

    Guys, guys, guys and girls…. JEALOUSY IS A COURSE!

  31. Obsession says:

    Are you obsessed with Murray? – Is he at the centre of your deepest darkest fears for selecting Apple as a platform? Do you wake in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, chilled to the bone and petrified with fear? LOOK OUT, he knows what you are thinking and he is under your bed…..he wants to take your Windows XP and there is no escape……lol

    Keep Calm and Carry On and for Christ sake, grow up ! Its just a computer.

  32. This says it all says:

    This article says it all and is a good reality check for the lot of you.


  33. Shelley J says:

    I am a uni student studying a Bachelor of Arts/Law at Tasmania University. Reading this post three things occur to me;

    a) Tasmania Police seems a bit behind the times if their people are struggling with introducing Apple. I am a second year student and you only have to look around uni and like only one in like every 50 people have Windows machines any more, and these people cop a lot of crap for it. Everyone has iPhones, iTunes U!!!

    b0 Because of the way this IT guy has been treated (for what seems like something everyone is doing these days, ie. using Apple – PEDESTRIAN) and the narrow mindedness and the ferocity of people that are obviously from Tasmania Police and maybe elsewhere attacking him and stuff I can certainly say that Tasmania Police is not somewhere I would like to come to work when I finish my degree in a few years (not that I would SOZ). I would be scared that people would like attack me, and they certainly don’t seem up with any of the modern world – “*$$#”.

    c) From study and just looking around the world its certain that a large proportion of crime and fraud this day and age with identify theft, child porn and phishing and similar stuff is online crime. If Tasmania police is struggling with getting their people to use Apple, how can they investigate crime? – lol, he did it on an Apple, can’t possibly work that one out ??????? How much are you missing guys? – Doesn’t seem right to me.

    Soz but someone has to say it, it just seems odd to me…

  34. ASymmons says:

    It seems to me that Lawler is a Patriot for your organisation.
    This is because I suspect that you pay around $550,000 to Window in licensing a year and to move to MAC means that you have capability of reducing that Window license by hundred of thousand of dollars as Mac has no recurrent licensing cost. This is money that you can put back into other area of police, and as I read I see that you have not much money, so I guess question is, do you want to pay license to Window or do you want to put money into police activity?

    Maybe something to think about next time you say you cant fit into economy size car because no money to buy larger model.

  35. Chelsea says:

    Why doesn’t the Police Association get behind IT15 instead of complaining all the time? IT15 has made huge leaps forward for technology in Policing in this state and the association should get behind it! It’s a fact that there would be no IT15 without Murray and no improvements in policing technology since 1989. So, why don’t we all work together and support IT, work as a team and stop trying to exercise old grudges, and for everyone’s benefit Police Association start supporting initiatives that will help Police and get your mind off the trivial. Beanies anyone?

  36. Sam says:

    Great theory save all this money by installing MAC’s. Save on Microsoft licence fees by all means. Good idea.
    Except the Macs are now being rolled out with WINDOWS on them.
    A totally pointless exercise.
    Why did this occur? The Mac’s can’t do the job. The plan was and is flawed.

  37. Macworld Australia Staff says:

    Ten comments have been removed from this thread, following a written legal request.

    Thanks Macworld Australia Staff

  38. Jann says:

    Shelley J – nobody is saying Macs aren’t excellent personal machines – particularly when running Mac Office or Adobe or other software that isn’t made by Apple.

    To be fair though, it was never Apple that said their products were equivalent. They just say “Hey our product can OPEN office files”. They know damn well that’s as far as it goes and after that it’s a whole bunch of make work.

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