Understanding Fleetsmith, Jamf, & MDM

Written by Zach DeMeyer on June 25, 2020

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Fleetsmith® is now a part of Apple®. As the news spreads to IT administrators interested in mobile device management (MDM) solutions, many Fleetsmith users are left wondering if they need to consider other alternatives like Jamf mobile device management, which recently announced its IPO following Apple’s Fleetsmith acquisition. Ultimately, however, admins need to determine if their choice of MDM covers their device management needs as a whole.

History of Fleetsmith and Jamf

For those unfamiliar, both Fleetsmith and Jamf are Apple-focused MDM solutions, handling device management for macOS® and iOS®. This includes system configuration, application deployment, patching, and zero-touch deployment capabilities. If your environment is heterogeneous or more Windows-centric, check out Jamf vs. Intune.

Jamf was the first of the two to enter the scene with its flagship, on-premises solution, and it has long led the Apple MDM market. Fleetsmith entered later but took a cloud-centric approach to the category, becoming a stand-out by offering a solution similar to Jamf’s but without requiring hardware on-prem. Of course, Jamf didn’t sit still and has since added a cloud-hosted solution to its portfolio.

After sitting somewhat impartially for many years, Apple has now acquired Fleetsmith in a move that may benefit Jamf and other MDM vendors. Apple will need to build out their enterprise APIs to accommodate Fleetsmith, providing new macOS and iOS device management possibilities. Assuming Apple keeps the MDM protocol open, other MDM vendors will also be able to expand and deepen their management capabilities.

Beyond that, upon announcing the acquisition, Apple shut off a significant portion of Fleetsmith’s third-party application support indefinitely. For organizations that relied on this functionality, Fleetsmith no longer suits a key purpose.

Finding an Alternative

Naturally, given their long-standing competition, Jamf likely emerges as an obvious Fleetsmith replacement. Jamf works well for Apple-only shops or organizations with Active Directory® that need to manage a few Macs. But if support for Windows® or Linux® systems is needed, it might be time to consider a third option that helps admins to consolidate platforms and shift to cloud management.

A better approach for many organizations may be to look for a holistic solution that merges the concept of MDM and related system management tools across Linux and Windows, as well as Apple platforms. Further, there’s a new movement to integrate identity management with device management, creating one overarching platform to manage secure access and systems.

Sound too good to be true? Justin Price of Chase International thought the same thing. Read how he consolidated his device and identity management needs through one cloud solution here.

Zach DeMeyer

Zach is a Product Marketing Specialist at JumpCloud with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. He loves being on the cutting edge of new technology, and when he's not working, he enjoys all things outdoors, music, and soccer.

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