What is Mac® System Management?

Written by Vince Lujan on April 25, 2018

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Managing modern system environments has never been more complicated. With so many Mac® (and Linux®) systems now being used in organizations, IT must figure out how to gain control over these devices and their users in addition to their Windows® endpoints. Yet, what is Mac system management? What does it mean for modern IT organizations? And, perhaps more importantly, how can the JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service® platform help? We invite you to keep reading for answers to these questions.

Traditional Mac System Management

mac desktop

Historically, IT admins didn’t need to worry about Mac system management. This was because, for many years, organizations were largely based on Microsoft® Windows®. In fact, Microsoft made it easy to manage Windows user access and the systems themselves with their management solutions: Active Directory® (AD) and SCCM (formerly, SMS). As a result, admins often discouraged the use of non-Windows platforms because they were more difficult (if not impossible) to manage with traditional Microsoft tools alone.

However, as the IT landscape started to change in the mid-2000’s, with the resurgence of Apple® and their macOS® platform, for example, the focus shifted from discouraging Mac usage to how to manage Macs effectively. Initially, with so few Macs, they were largely left unmanaged. Although this approach was effective at first, IT discovered it was far from ideal because the user population’s preference for Macs and other modern IT resources skyrocketed. Consequently, IT organizations needed a way to bring Macs into the fold, but this has proven to be easier said than done.

Traditional Challenges with Mac System Management at Scale

complete mac user management

IT found it was difficult to integrate Macs with Active Directory, especially from a system management perspective. For example, AD had an interesting concept for device management called Group Policy Objects (GPOs), which helped IT admins centrally control their fleet of Windows machines. Unfortunately, that concept of GPOs didn’t extend to Mac systems. It still doesn’t. In fact, most of the native functionality of AD doesn’t extend to non-Windows IT resources. As a result, IT admins started searching for alternative solutions to manage their Macs.

Of course, there were a number of on-prem solutions that would complement Microsoft’s solutions. These solutions were generally either siloed Mac-only solutions, or directory extension utilities that were leveraged to patch AD in order to add support for non-Windows IT resources. To be fair, it is possible to manage cross-platform system environments effectively with a decentralized blend of solutions. However, what IT admins really want is a single cross-platform system and user management platform.

Next Generation Mac System Management

system management

Called Directory-as-a-Service®, the JumpCloud® platform is not only a Mac system management solution, but also covers Windows and Linux system management as well. In addition, because the SaaS-based solution is a cloud directory, IT admins can also centrally manage user access to systems (Windows, Mac, Linux), web and on-prem applications, cloud and on-prem servers, virtual and physical file servers, and WiFi and wired networks. JumpCloud even offers its own cross-platform GPO-like capabilities, called Policies, which help admins manage heterogeneous fleets of endpoints. With all of that in mind, and plenty more where that came from, perhaps the better question to ask is, “What is the best system management solution for modern IT networks?” The answer to that question is JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service.

Learn More About Mac System Management with JumpCloud

Watch our whiteboard presentation to learn more about managing systems with JumpCloud. If you’re still wondering what is Mac system management, contact the JumpCloud team or schedule a demo more more information. You can also sign up for a free account and test our comprehensive Mac system management solution at no cost. In fact, your first ten users are free forever to help you explore the full functionality of our platform, including Mac system management, risk free!

Vince Lujan

Vince is a writer and video specialist at JumpCloud. Originally from the horse capital of New Mexico, Corrales, he has lived in Boulder, Colorado for three years. When Vince is not developing content for JumpCloud, he can usually be found at the Boulder Creek.

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