How to Manage Macs in the Enterprise

Written by Rajat Bhargava on October 2, 2014

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Apple’s Mac desktops and laptops have made a significant dent in the business computing market. What once was almost exclusively the domain of Microsoft, the modern enterprise with new “BYOD” policies has dramatically shifted to being a mixed environment. For IT admins, this creates a much more complicated environment to manage and secure access with a myriad of devices.

Issues Encountered When Trying to Manage Macs

Historically, organizations were able to leverage Microsoft’s Active Directory to manage their organizations. This was a simple affair given the close relationship of Microsoft products – including the operating system the devices used ubiquitously: Windows. Users would authenticate to their devices and the network via the domain controller that was backed by the Active Directory database. Another key component of AD was its ability manage devices as well. Admins could specify policies, enforce security settings, and even run tasks upon login or otherwise. Active Directory gave admins a lot of control over their infrastructure.

With the introduction of Macs – en masse – to organizations, that ability to control authentication, authorization and manage the infrastructure has changed dramatically. Macs often become, and largely still are, unmanaged devices within a business. They don’t generally connect to the domain nor are users controlled via Active Directory. Moreover, those with history managing Windows are in unfamiliar territory when attempting to navigate the Mac’s unix-based OS X. Managing Macs is not generally done remotely, but via hands on access. In short, Macs just become unmanaged devices. The challenge with that is two-fold – one, there is no way to control and secure the user, the device, or its data; two, managing and supporting the devices becomes more time consuming. Macs are effectively treated as second-class citizens.

Of course, there are solutions where you can manage a Mac. You can install the software on the machine and then be able to manage it remotely. Perhaps you’ll be able to enforce some policies and settings, but ultimately, it will be managed separate and distinct from your Windows devices. Most admins would love to look at their entire infrastructure as one environment and manage it as such.

At JumpCloud, we view deployment of Macs as a key trend along with cloud-based infrastructure and the move to Google Apps as the now in-favor email / productivity system for businesses of all sizes. And, as a result of the shortcomings of existing solutions, we view this as an opportunity to reimagine the directory service. To us, the directory service is the glue that binds users, devices, and applications together, securely. A reimagined directory service would be cloud-based and support all of the key device types – Windows, Macs, and Linux. You would be able to control user authentication and authorization to devices and applications. Further, managing the devices similarly to how you could with Active Directory – except across all platforms – is another critical element. You would have the ability to set password requirements, manage users, enforce security settings, and more – all remotely and automated across your entire fleet of Macs.

Manage Macs with JumpCloud’s Cloud-Based Directory

And that’s what we’ve built. A cloud-based directory service that treats Macs as first class citizens in the environment. Users that can be managed across all of your devices and applications. Devices that can be managed remotely and that aren’t on their own. One central directory service to connect and manage your users, devices, and applications.

If managing Macs is important to you and you aren’t looking to treat them as a one-off, take a look at JumpCloud’s Directory-as-a-Service® platform. We integrate Macs into your IT environment, giving you the same control that you want and need over your PCs, Macs, and Linux devices – all from a central, cloud-based directory service. Give JumpCloudtry for free and let us know what you think!

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