Managed Mac Management

Written by Vince Lujan on April 4, 2018

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Is there a managed Mac® management solution? Well, outside of hiring an MSP to do all of your IT work, there isn’t a completely managed Mac management approach. However, there is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) Mac management solution that can get you close. It’s called JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service®. But before we dive into the advantages of managed Mac management with the JumpCloud platform, we should provide some context.

System Management Before Mac

identity management active directory

We all know that Mac laptops and desktops are here to stay. It’s been a little over a decade since they started to appear within corporate networks, and they have only grown in popularity ever since. In fact, according to a Jamf research report, “Ninety-one percent of businesses use Mac, and 99 percent use iPhone®, iPad, or both.”

Prior to the rise of Mac, Microsoft® Windows® based devices ruled the network. This enabled IT admins to leverage legacy tools like Microsoft Active Directory® (AD) to manage the majority of their systems.

AD introduced the concept of Group Policy management for Windows systems. The idea was to give IT admins a way to remotely manage their Windows fleet with security policies, task execution, and more – all of which could be administered from one central management platform with AD.

The concept was a hit, and Group Policy Objects (GPOs) became one of the most important and valuable aspects of the AD platform. After all, GPOs were the mechanism that IT admins use to manage enterprise systems remotely, all via templated policies, commands, and scripts. However, a key limitation of GPOs has always been that they only work for Windows-based systems out of the box.

To be fair, this wasn’t initially considered an issue since the presence of Macs on enterprise networks used to be miniscule. However, as more people started to choose Macs in the mid-2000s due to their ease of use and tight integration with the iPhone, the challenge for IT admins became figuring out how to manage Macs effectively.

Traditional Mac Management Options

Active Directory for endpoint management

IT admins were basically left with two options.

The first option was to manage Macs independently from everything else. That meant IT admins had to manually configure Mac system policies on the system itself. While this approach could be effective for a small number of systems, it quickly becomes inefficient as more Mac systems are introduced. This approach also adds a significant security risk because IT essentially has no visibility into the system, not to mention that maintaining system security falls to the end user.  

The other option was to build on top of the on-prem Active Directory instance with third-party Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS) solutions. This approach was also effective, and it could even provide GPOs for Mac (and Linux®). However, it came at the expense of simplicity and centralized management because each additional tool was effectively siloed. This approach also further entrenched organizations on-prem with AD.

Neither of these approaches are suitable for modern IT networks. Yet, the unfortunate reality is that many IT admins have been stuck with these options for many years. The good news is that’s all in the past now that a new solution has emerged that can provide cross-platform GPO-like capabilities from the cloud. This solution can not only provide managed Mac management, but it can also serve as a comprehensive Active Directory alternative in the cloud.

Managed Mac Management with JumpCloud

complete mac user management

JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service is a next-generation Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS) platform that securely manages and connects users to their systems, applications, files, and networks. The ability to manage Macs comes standard with this new cloud directory (Linux and Windows too). This enables IT admins to remotely manage cross-platform system environments from one central location in the cloud.

The JumpCloud directory service platform has also expanded the concept of GPOs, called Policies within the JumpCloud environment, to include support for Mac, Linux, and Windows – all without the need to manage multiple add-on solutions that are adjunct to an on-prem AD instance. In fact, as a SaaS-based platform, IT admins don’t need to worry about managing the platform at all. Rather, they can focus on executing what they need to do to control and manage their IT environment. The end result is that IT admins are free to choose the best IT resources for the organization, knowing they have the tools to effectively manage it all.

Learn More About Managed Mac Management

Managed Mac management with JumpCloud Policies is just one of the ways the Directory-as-a-Service platform can benefit your organization. Contact the JumpCloud team or schedule a demo to discover additional use cases. You can also sign up for a free JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service account and experiment with our cross-platform GPO-like capabilities today. Your first ten users are free forever to help you explore the full functionality of our platform at no cost – and we don’t even require a credit card to sign up!

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