By Vince Lujan Posted January 23, 2018
Group Policy Objects (GPOs) are some of the most valuable functions of the Microsoft® Active Directory® (AD) platform. The trouble is that GPOs only work for Windows® systems. That is why IT organizations are interested in a next generation system management solution called JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service®. This cloud-based directory can provide GPO-like capabilities, but for cross platform system environments (e.g. Windows, Mac, Linux). These cross platform GPO-like capabilities are called Policies in JumpCloud parlance. Before we explain how JumpCloud Policies work, let’s step back and explain why GPOs for macOS would be helpful for IT admins.
Characteristics of Active Directory GPOs
AD GPOs are effectively templated commands and scripts designed to help IT admins manage an on-prem network of Windows systems in a non-programmatic way. GPOs are used to control guest access, disable USB ports, configure screen lock timeout, and manage a wide variety of other system behaviors, for example. The key benefit is that GPOs enable IT admins to manage a fleet of Windows systems from one central location by automating tasks that would otherwise have to be configured on a per system basis.
GPOs can certainly be a powerful tool. The challenge is that GPOs can only be applied to Windows systems. Further, the AD platform is a legacy directory service solution that requires a lot of on-prem infrastructure to operate. That means IT organizations will have to pay a pretty penny to implement AD on-prem, while still having to devote significant time and resources to configure system policies granularly on Mac and Linux devices.
Ideally, IT admins would be able to leverage a cloud-based solution that can provide GPO-like capabilities for Windows, Mac, and Linux devices. Fortunately, a next generation system management platform called JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service has emerged that provides group based policy management for cross-platform system environments.
Group Policy Management for Windows, macOS, and Linux
JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service securely manages and connects users to their systems, applications, files, and networks. Cross-platform GPO-like capabilities are a core function of this cloud based platform.
JumpCloud Policies are effectively templated commands and scripts that enable IT admins to control guest access, disable USB ports, configure screen lock timeout, and manage a wide variety of other system policies, for example. IT admins can also create custom scripts and commands as needed. These commands and scripts can leverage any language supported by the device (i.e., PowerShell, Bash, Perl, Python, and more). The end result is that JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service enables IT admins to manage fleets of heterogeneous systems from one central management platform in the cloud.
JumpCloud also goes beyond cross-platform group based policy management to provide a comprehensive set of management tools for virtually any IT resource. Examples of other capabilities include user access management for applications (web and on-prem), productivity platforms (Office 365, G Suite), Samba file servers and storage solutions (Synology, QNAP, FreeNAS), and can even help with security settings (password complexity, MFA, SSH keys), and more.
Learn More about GPOs for macOS
Check out our whiteboard presentation for an in-depth description of JumpCloud Policies. You can also contact the JumpCloud team to learn more about GPOs for macOS, or sign up for a Directory-as-a-Service account and manage Mac devices with GPO-like capabilities today. Your first ten users are free forever to help you explore the full functionality of our platform at no cost to your organization.