Introduction to System Management

Written by Ryan Squires on February 14, 2019

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With the IT landscape continuing to shift to mixed-platform environments, IT admins and managed service providers (MSPs) are struggling with how to manage the Windows®, macOS®, and Linux® systems they find in their environments. Thankfully, for those in this pinch, there is a modern approach to system management aimed at solving these complex issues. In this article, we’ll provide an introduction to system management for the modern enterprise.

Overview of Systems in IT Environments Today

The simple fact is that there aren’t many IT environments that are homogenous, Windows-only environments any longer. Those days have come to pass. Now, virtually every organization on the planet contains some mix of Windows, Mac®, and Linux machines. Each operating system has its appeal to different users, departments, and use cases, so it is foolish to try and box out any of them for the sole reason of not being able to manage them. For example, with the rise of the Apple® macOS platform and Linux servers at Amazon Web Services® (AWS®), most organizations are likely to experience difficulty when it comes to managing and controlling these systems with Active Directory.

How Did We Get Here?

ConfigMgr Microsoft AD

The traditional approach to system management has been Microsoft® Active® Directory®. When IT environments were primarily Windows-based, Microsoft was able to provide excellent system management tools such as System Management Server (SMS), now called System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) or ConfigMgr. But, each of these solutions was designed and optimized for the Windows platform, which wasn’t unusual for a Microsoft® product. When these system management tools were paired with Active Directory® to manage users, most IT organizations were able to effectively manage their all-Windows network. The key here is it worked best with an all-Windows network.

The Intersection Between User and Admin Needs

As end users started to demand Macs and the data center shifted to AWS and Linux servers, it was becoming painfully clear that the combination of legacy Microsoft IT management tools (SCCM) and Active Directory was breaking down. From this struggle to integrate new systems and services into their IT environments, IT admins and MSPs started to search for a new generation of system management tooling. When admins started looking, they had a few requirements:

  1. The solution should be delivered from the cloud to cut down with on-prem implementations and their subsequent need for maintenance and securing.
  2. It should have the ability to manage systems within the cross-platform environments that most IT found themselves working in.

Ultimately, what IT admins were looking for was an approach similar to the one pioneered by Microsoft, but with the ability to manage heterogeneous environments. They needed the ability to remotely deploy commands or Policies like the Group Policy Objects (GPOs) system that Microsoft pioneered. Also, they required the ability to execute these commands or Policies on ad hoc or scheduled cadences. Finally, they called for the ability to manage users like what they traditionally experienced with Active Directory when the IT environment was essentially Windows-based. Luckily, after some searching, IT admins were able to find a solution that fit the bill, and it is called JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service®.

Modern System Management for Modern IT Environments

Modern system management IT

JumpCloud fulfills IT admins requirements for system management with its ability to remotely deploy Policies. JumpCloud Policies have the ability to enable full disk encryption (FDE) for Mac and Windows (and store recovery keys), force OS updates, set screen locks, and much more. Plus, because JumpCloud follows the SaaS delivery model, IT admins do not need to spend their time maintaining on-prem implementations; they can simply Make Work Happen™ for their users. In addition to system management abilities, JumpCloud can enable user access to just about any IT resource their users leverage on a day-to-day basis including: systems, files on-prem or in the cloud, web-based or legacy applications, and networks via RADIUS. It’s Active Directory reimagined for the modern world.

Learn More About JumpCloud

This was merely an introduction to system management, if you want to see the full breadth of JumpCloud’s abilities, sign up today for a free account or schedule a demo. When you sign up for an account, you gain the ability to manage up to 10 users for free, forever. Also, be sure to visit our Knowledge Base for information to help you get the most out of your account.

Ryan Squires

Ryan Squires is a content writer at JumpCloud, a company dedicated to connecting users to the IT resources they need securely and efficiently. He has a degree in Journalism and Media Communication from Colorado State University.

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