At last year’s WWDC Apple announced that their new file system, APFS, would be replacing the age-old HFS+, which has underpinned their file system since 1998. It came to mobile devices with iOS 10.3, and is expected to make the jump to macOS at June’s WWDC event. So, with the mooted release date looming, how should companies be preparing for APFS? What considerations do you need to take into account?
Data loss A developer beta has been available for a while now, and from what we’ve heard transitions have gone smoothly – Apple say they’ve built the system to avoid all data loss. However, being the cautious types we are, we can’t help but think a bit of pre-rollout preparation is for the best, especially if you’re in an enterprise environment.
Awareness of the impact on mixed estates and corporate services If your estate isn’t standardised, you’ll be handling a mixture of older machines using HFS+ and newer ones using APFS, and will need to offer parity access to corporate services (printers, files shares etc). Do you have the tools to inventory your estate and identify potential pitfalls?
Imaging strategy Consider what impact the change may have on the way you approach disc imaging.
Protect against data loss
APFS has been engineered to fit neatly into the gaps in HFS+, meaning the chance of data loss is minimal. However, we can’t in good conscience tell you to perform a cross-office upgrade without backing up your own data and ensuring end users do the same with their endpoint devices. Ideally, perform an automated backup across all the devices under your command yourself – asking end users to back up manually rarely gets the desired result, and even if some users oblige you, there are roadblocks such as the photo storage limit that’s imposed on the free version of iCloud, which might prevent some users backing up all their files.
We’d recommend doing an automated backup across all the devices you manage, and keeping at least one copy internally and one copy at an external site – you might want to rent some hosted cloud storage for the switchover period, as this is a really easy way to ensure you have secure, offsite backup without massively impacting your budget.
If you don’t have an automated backup solution already in place, take a look at Archiware P5, or Acronis Backup Advanced. We can also offer Backup24, our own hosted cloud backup solution, in which your data is held in our secure, UK-based data centre, and can be accessed at any time without any retrieval fees.
Know what you’ll need to standardise, and check access to services
Macs running anything earlier than OS X Yosemite won’t be able to read APFS volumes. Any Macs that you buy after the next macOS release will arrive with APFS as their native file system. To avoid problems, you need to inventory your devices and work out which bits of your estate are running OS X Yosemite or earlier and then, where possible, update them so that they’re running the latest OS (here are the minimum requirements for upgrading to Sierra). You’ll also need to root out any devices which are not 64-bit.
You can share APFS volumes over SMB or NFS, but not using AFP, which has led to widespread speculation that Apple will be phasing this out soon. If you’re currently making use of AFP to give your Mac users access to print servers and the like, the move to a later OS should also help you move them over to SMB, which is far better supported in more recent OS releases.
So how do you manage this auditing process and switchover? Well, the number of dedicated Mac management solutions is on the rise, and many of them offer auditing and inventory tools that you can use to roadmap which parts of your estate need changing and when. We recommend Jamf Pro in most instances (we’re so keen on this one we can offer it as a managed, hosted service if you’d rather not take on MDM in house), but AirWatch is another popular solution that’ll serve you well if you’re in a mixed Android/iOS environment.
Want to know more about inventorying your estate? Take a look at our whitepapers here.
Changes to standard imaging practices
APFS is likely to have an impact on some of the traditional forms of disk imaging used in the deployment of new devices. Your current process might involve building a Mac with the desired OS, software and configuration settings, then creating a disk image that contains the content of that Mac’s boot drive, and then applying this to multiple other Macs.
However, Apple seem to want you to invest in MDM (we can’t argue with this) and then use DEP to facilitate zero touch device enrolment as an alternative to imaging.
Doing some research into the best MDM solution for your business and getting your team skilled up on DEP both seem like good ideas at this point – get in touch with our team on the details below to find our how to get started.
Want to know more about achieving zero touch deployment? Take a look at our whitepapers here.