What Apple's T2 security chip brings to the enterprise table

Apple’s T2 security processor offers a real measure of data protection, even as it requires changes in how Apple hardware is imaged, updated or copied. But on balance, the T2 presages good things from the company.

Apple security illustration

There's been a lot of discussion about Apple's T2 security chip, particularly the restrictions it places on repairs not sanctioned by Apple. The controversy centers on an Apple utility needed to make changes like swapping out the built-in SSD drives. The overall argument ties into the right-to-repair fight, allowing hardware owners to make changes to their own devices.

It's an issue that also affects enterprises, since it's no longer a quick fix to change the drive in a company Mac or pull the drive from a dead Mac to retrieve its contents.

It also affects system imaging. That's the process businesses and schools have long used to configure, deploy and refresh systems by copying a disk image that overwrites what's on a Mac with a new configuration; the goal is to ensure all Macs have a consistent configuration from the macOS version to apps, network settings and other configuration states. The process can also be used to resolve stubborn computer issues by blasting a known, good deployment image onto a Mac rather than resorting to extensive troubleshooting. As various attendees at JAMF's user conference last month put it: imaging is dead (though in fairness, Apple has been nudging organizations to other deployment mechanisms for years).

On top of those issues, the T2's secure boot technology also affects users who want to boot and run Linux on their Macs rather than macOS or Windows 10.

Most of controversy has centered on what the T2 takes away. What's lost in the noise is what the T2 brings to the IT table and what it represents in terms of Apple's increasing ability to custom design its own silicon for its devices. In fact, the T2 is a leap forward that should be applauded and taken as a distinct indication that Apple is on the road to powering Macs more and more with its own chips — and ultimately only with its own chips.

Apple's growing role as a chip designer

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