Mac Enterprise Management – Users & Systems

Written by Natalie Bluhm on November 20, 2017

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Macs have infiltrated the enterprise – a domain that once was in the firm clutches of Microsoft Windows. Over the last several years, Mac enterprise management for both users and systems has become an incredibly important part of an IT organization’s task list.

Let’s take a look at how Mac has gained tremendous ground in the enterprise, and then examine some of the difficulties IT has faced with this change in IT resources.

The Ascension of Mac Enterprise Management

Mac Business

Macs started their resurgence in the enterprise after Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997. With the advent of the iPod and then the iPhone, Apple technology started to become interesting again. Their innovations on the Mac platform, sleek design, lightweight laptops, and easy-to-use operating system converted a number of business professionals. Add to that the tight integration between the iPhone and the Mac, and Windows was on the way out.

Today, 20% of devices within an organization are Windows (Forbes). So, it makes a great deal of sense that IT admins are searching for new ways to obtain Mac enterprise management over users and systems. Traditionally, IT management tools have been provided by Microsoft because the infrastructure was Microsoft. Windows was the dominant platform and applications were largely Windows based. Virtually the entire infrastructure was located on-prem, so Microsoft took advantage of these characteristics and developed IT management tools such as Active Directory® for user management and SCCM for systems management. Both tools would go on to become significant players in the IT management space with AD being a virtual monopoly for user management. The challenge for IT admins has been that Microsoft management tools work best with Windows, while macOS and Linux are an afterthought and not a focus. So, as more Macs appeared in the infrastructure, IT admins started searching for tools to help manage Mac users and systems.

The Necessity of User and System Management

Mac worker

User and system management are crucial aspects in maintaining a secure environment. IT absolutely needs to have the ability to manage users. This isn’t just about onboarding and offboarding, but also about security. Users have a well-earned reputation for choosing convenience over security in their day-to-day work lives. Reusing the same password, downloading insecure software, and using apps IT isn’t aware they’re using, are just some of the poor choices users are prone to making. Having a user management platform in place helps IT to take away the option for users to make some of these poor choices.  

System management is just as important as user management. Without the ability to manage the system, security takes a nosedive and configuration and maintenance become tedious. If you don’t have system management in place, you run the risk that OS updates are ignored and you have no automated way of granting and revoking access. Forgotten passwords and other system maintenance tasks become huge time sinks.

Past Options for Mac Enterprise Management

Mac Business

IT admins know the security risks when systems go unmanaged in their environment. With Active Directory ruling the core identity provider market, IT had to turn to a few other options for user and system Mac enterprise management. One option was to incorporate a directory extension that would sit on top of Active Directory and provide IT with some system management capabilities. The downside to this solution is that these legacy directory extensions were expensive and cumbersome to work with. Those that didn’t want to take on the cost of a directory extension would fall to manual management. However, manual management doesn’t give IT total peace of mind because they don’t know for certain that users are following password guidelines, updating software when they are supposed to and avoiding untrustworthy software. Plus, this option can cost IT admins valuable time.

IT organizations needed another option. Mac enterprise management needed to cover both user management and systems management without an insane cost to time or budgets. In a sense, the solution needed to be the next generation of Active Directory. AD managed Windows users and systems, so an analogous management tool would be helpful. But the idea wasn’t to just have a Mac focused IT management tool, but rather a cross-platform management tool from the cloud.

Mac Enterprise Management with a Cloud-Based Directory

mac management jumpcloud

Directory-as-a-Service® has become this solution for organizations with heterogeneous environments. As a cloud delivered directory service, it is Active Directory reimagined for the modern era of cloud, web applications, and Macs. Directory-as-a-Service unites your disparate fleet of Mac, Linux, and Windows systems and offers IT the ability to gain full control over user accounts as well as the Mac system itself.

While user and system management is at the core of the Directory-as-a-Service platform, this cloud-based Active Directory alternative also grants IT centralized control over wired and wireless networks, legacy and web-based applications, and virtual and physical storage. Your organization can not only achieve secure Mac enterprise management over users and systems, but also secure access to all of the modern IT resources used in your environment.

For more information on Mac enterprise management for users and systems, consider watching the whiteboard video below or contact our team for more information. You are also more than welcome to test our system management or any other product features by signing up for a free account. Your first ten users are free forever.

Natalie Bluhm

Natalie is a writer for JumpCloud, an Identity and Access Management solution designed for the cloud era. Natalie graduated with a degree in professional and technical writing, and she loves learning about cloud infrastructure, identity security, and IT protocols.

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