MacOS® Catalina™ MDM

By Zach DeMeyer Posted June 17, 2019

At the 2019 Apple® Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), the Cupertino-based titans of tech announced that they would be releasing the newest iteration of their macOS®: 10.15, or Catalina™. Upon first examination, it appears that a major emphasis of this new macOS version is centered around the concept of mobile device management, or MDM.

When it comes to managing Mac® ecosystems, few tools are used more widely than MDM solutions. As such, Apple seems like they are using Catalina to hone in on Mac management with MDM for organizations looking to manage their Mac systems and iOS devices.

What are MDM Solutions?

Before we talk about Apple’s plans for MDM with macOS Catalina, let’s talk about MDMs themselves. Traditionally, the IT market has viewed the term MDM as tools that were focused solely on mobile devices such as iPhones®, iPads®, and Android® phones and tablets. The original concept behind these MDMs was to be able to manage and secure the iOS or Android device and control application access, as well as to potentially separate personal and professional roles on the machine.

Similarly, a category called system management existed to manage Windows®, Mac, and Linux® systems and workstations. For a while after the onset of mobile devices in the workplace, each solution category stayed in its respective track. But, as the modern age of IT progressed, the lines between the two began to blur. Now, many MDMs are capable of managing both mobile devices and work systems, especially regarding Macs.

macOS Catalina and MDM

Over the past few macOS iterations, Apple seems to have been moving towards managing macOS systems under the MDM umbrella of software management tools with optional features like the Device Enrollment Program (DEP). It appears that, however, with macOS Catalina, MDM support will be a requirement to manage a macOS device. Apple seems to be placing more specific pathways and APIs to manage systems under a secure model, as outlined by their MDM reference guide.

It also appears that Apple is extending the role of MDM to also include portions of identity management as well, theoretically simplifying an organization’s ability to completely manage a macOS system from one location. With macOS Catalina, using the MDM role within the macOS and iOS ecosystem will seemingly be expanded to include more control over a variety of different areas of a macOS device. Some enhancements include the ability to control Secure Tokens from the MDM, remote desktop for Macs, and a variety of other controls and capabilities, many related to user management.

Of course, until Apple ships their final version of Catalina, we won’t know all of the changes, but we do have a sense of some of the enhancements and the direction that Apple is headed with macOS 10.15.

macOS Catalina, MDM, and JumpCloud®

JumpCloud’s focus is on leveraging these new innovations to further deliver user and system management capabilities. Historically, JumpCloud has been the identity provider for macOS systems and also supported policies for Macs, similar to how it handles Windows and Linux systems.

For example, JumpCloud’s user management controls enable IT admins to remotely provision, deprovision, and modify user access on a Mac. Further, those identities can also be leveraged to access other systems, applications, files, and networks hosted on-prem, in the cloud, or remotely, virtually regardless of platform, protocol, and provider. On the Mac system management side, JumpCloud’s capabilities include FileVault management, automated Secure Token management, multi-factor authentication, screensaver locks, and many other policies.

With the impending enhancements to macOS Catalina MDM capabilities, control over macOS endpoints will increase when leveraging JumpCloud’s Directory-as-a-Service® platform. We will continue to keep our finger on the pulse of new updates to Catalina as they arise in order to deliver the best possible Mac management experience with Directory-as-a-Service.

If you have any questions or concerns about macOS Catalina, MDM, or just JumpCloud in general, please contact us.

Zach DeMeyer

Zach is a writer and researcher for 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, making music, and soccer.

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