IAM Capability: Mac® System Management

Written by Zach DeMeyer on February 6, 2019

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Macs® are more popular than ever with end users as Microsoft®’s hold on the desktop market declines. With the uptick in Mac usage, the challenge for IT organizations becomes how to properly manage them—both from a user and system perspective. Is there an identity and access management (IAM) capability for Mac system management? Well, the answer depends on what solutions you are using for IAM.

Mac® System Management in a (Once) Windows® World

Traditional Domain

Traditionally, systems have been controlled by Microsoft IT management solutions, such as Active Directory® and SCCM. Of course, traditional IT environments were almost entirely Windows®-based; wall-to-wall PCs touting Office, Exchange, and Outlook® were an industry standard. In fact, Microsoft innovated in the identity management space by integrating the concept of Windows system management with directory services. In AD parlance, this was performed by GPOs (Group Policy Objects). While they served as effective tools for Windows shops, GPOs could not be used cross-platform.

As Apple® climbed into popularity in the mid-2000s, many end users began craving Mac laptops and desktops as their system of choice. While much more productive for end users that knew how to use them, IT admins struggled to manage these macOS® systems both from a user and system management perspective.

Developing IAM for Macs

Cloud based identity and access management

Over time, a generation of enterprise-class, Mac system management tools emerged, including Apple Open Directory. These solutions paled in comparison to the overall identity management efficacy of AD, however, so vendors developed add-on solutions called identity bridges to graft Apple systems into AD-based ecosystems.

The challenges with these attempts at Mac system management presented themselves rather quickly to IT admins. The solutions increased costs, introduced another tool to manage and worry about, and further cemented organizations on-prem. While the last challenge may not have been an issue for the last several decades, but now, as more and more organizations make the shift to the cloud, being stuck on-prem is practically akin to being stuck in the past.

Next-Generation IAM Capability: Mac System Management

complete mac user management

As even more IT resources shifted to the cloud and away from being Windows-based, Active Directory struggled even further. IT organizations began searching for a cross-platform identity and system management platform. In short, they were looking for one solution to manage user access across all of their different types of platforms, much like Active Directory and SCCM, but reimagined for the modern, cloud era.

For admins still on the hunt for such a solution, there is an option offering serverless Mac system management and more. This cloud-based directory service, aptly named Directory-as-a-Service®, federates user identities to all of their IT resources, regardless of the choice of provider or platform. Featuring cross-platform, GPO-esque capabilities, called Policies, this solution from JumpCloud® is combining Mac system management with Windows and Linux® management, as well as user management to deliver an all-in-one IAM suite.

Learn More

You can explore the IAM capability for Mac system management today by either scheduling a demo of Directory-as-a-Service or by signing up with JumpCloud and trying the product yourself for free. With ten users to get you started, signing up requires no credit card and gives you access to the entire Directory-as-a-Service platform. Contact us to learn more.

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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