I was asked recently what my recommendations were for schools who are thinking “Mac OS X 10.7 Lion – What do we do about this”. Below was my response (the majority could also be applied to creative/design agencies)…

If your school has recently purchased new Macs that shipped with Lion, you’ve got to make the best of it. Downgrading to Snow Leopard will void the warranty.

If your school doesn’t already have Macs running Lion, you should install it on at least one Mac and begin testing it with your school’s software, network, servers, printers, and peripherals. It is highly likely you will find incompatibilities/issues, and the sooner you know about them the sooner you can strategize a solution.

Upgrading in mass older compatible Macs to Lion should be avoided until at least several updates from Apple are released. Lion is currently at version 10.7.1. Previously it has taken Apple 3-4 updates to “get things right”. Snow Leopard wasn’t widely considered stable until 10.6.4, and Leopard has serious problems until 10.5.3 was released. Lion is no different, and I don’t see the any major benefit by rushing into it.

One benefit of upgrading in mass older compatible Macs to Lion is to get all the Macs running on the same operating system, so one base image can be created and deployed. This of course only makes since if you’ve purchased new Macs that shipped with Lion… and if you go down this path this early in the game, you are accepting the risks of being an early adaptor. It’s very possible your students/facility will experience down time while you troubleshooting undiscovered issues, which ultimately will be fixed by future updates from Apple or third-party vendors.

An education volume license of Lion costs $29.99 per seat, with a minimum order of 20 seats…
This cost needs to be taken into consideration, in addition to any third-party software upgrades needed for Lion compatibility at your school. Lion is not compatible with numerous older third-party applications, including: Microsoft Office 2004 and older, Adobe CS2 and older, Parallels 5 and older, FileMaker 10 and older