Mac organizations have discovered some peripherals work better than others. Companies can't take chances a printer manufacturer will include capable Mac OS X drivers. While you're unboxing and deploying a RAID array or backup system is no time to discover the model chosen doesn't work well with Apple and Mac technologies. Businesses can't gamble that the wireless access points they deploy will work well with their iOS and OS X devices, and rest assured, not all do.
Here are several peripherals I've found to work well within Mac businesses. While my experiences aren't statistically proven, I've found these third-party products work reliably and deserve consideration within Mac enterprise and business environments.
Wireless access points
Wireless infrastructure plays an increasingly critical role within organizations. Experience taught me at least one unified threat management device vendor struggles with iOS and OS X wireless network integration. Experience also teaches that Ruckus Wireless access points have no trouble. Specifically the Ruckus ZoneFlex 7363 devices provide excellent value, reliable performance, impressive range, and scalability and dependable OS X compatibility.
Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM, is the old adage. The same can be said for HP printers. They're workhorses. The organization reliably develops full performance print drivers for OS X. I've found most all HP printers, particularly the business-class laser jets, work well with OS X. Mac businesses can consider the sub $500 HP LaserJet Pro 400 Color M451. Boasting OS X driver support, Apple AirPrint compatibility and a monthly duty cycle of up to 40,000 pages, it's a printer that should meet most Mac organization's basic color printing needs.
Originally turned on to Promise Technology's RAID storage devices by Apple business specialists, I found the Promise RAID systems capable of storing terabytes upon terabytes of data at acceptable speeds. The company's new Pegasus R4 RAID tower boasts four bays, runs RAID 0, 1, 6 or 10, and now features Thunderbolt connectivity. That's a potent RAID storage combination.
External hard disks
My office supports hundreds of commercial clients. Over the years, we've learned which hard disks tend to fail less than others. While all disks will fail, and while it's never fair to blame a hard drive manufacturer for damage due to drops, falls, or electrical spikes, we've standardized deploying Western Digital Elements external disks. Some Mac users may find that choice surprising, and that's fair. These drives come preformatted for Windows and possess only USB 2.0 connectivity and a one-year limited hardware warranty, But they've proven themselves as reliable back up disks in the field, they come in storage capacities ranging from 500GB to 3TB, and they're reasonably priced.
Mac businesses seeking more state-of-the-art external disks don't need to be disappointed by Western Digital, however. The manufacturer's My Book Thunderbolt Duo external drives pack on storage capacity and speed. The Thunderbolt Duos include Thunderbolt connectivity and capacities from 4TB to 6TB. The improvements come at a price, however. Instead of picking up a 3TB Elements drive for less than three hundred dollars or so, Mac organizations need to be prepared to pay almost five hundred for a 4TB Thunderbolt Duo model.
Bags and cases
Mac users feel strongly about style. That's understandable. But they value reliability and ease of use, too. The laptops, tablets, smartphones and other devices we carry and use daily become our critical tools and implements of commerce. Obviously, so do the cases, bags and luggage we choose for carrying our technical gear. They become an important peripheral. And no one, in my experience, crafts bags and cases with more passion and expertise than the staff at Timbuk2.
I'll put my Timbuk2 Laptop Messenger bag up against any other bag, anywhere. I don't care what you paid. The Timbuk2 laptop bags are simply unsurpassed for flexibility, design, customization, and craftsmanship. They even make it easy to select carrying cases based on your specific laptop using a simple interactive Web-based Laptop/Tablet Fit Guide. Best of all, the firm manufacturers accessories custom-tailored to fit popular electronic devices and tablet computers, too.
Have your own favorites?
Do you prefer other models? Have you found other devices that work really well within Mac-based businesses, albeit within different product categories? Join the discussion below by posting more information on the third-party devices, products and components you've found work best with Apple technologies.
Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.