By Natalie Bluhm Posted April 12, 2018
User management is a core activity for virtually all IT organizations. Having a good user management solution in place makes it incredibly easier to secure user access to valuable company digital assets like systems. For a long time, Microsoft® Windows® dominated the desktop market share. Recently, though, Macs® have become a preferred alternative, so what is Mac user management? How does it relate to the rest of an IT organization’s identity management approach? Is there a difference in the way IT can manage Windows users versus Mac users?
These are great questions, and in order to start answering them, we need to gain some context.
The Rise of Windows, Active Directory®, and Macs
If you know your computer history, then you are well aware of the fact that Apple was the first company to release an affordable computer that utilized a graphical user interface (GUI). This revolutionary move was quickly copied by Microsoft, and due to a series of unfortunate mishaps in the Apple world, Microsoft Windows® became the dominating force it’s known as today.
Microsoft introduced Active Directory in 1999 to control Windows users and systems. Of course, Microsoft had no interest in supporting Mac® or Linux® users and systems. This made a lot of sense for the longest time because there were so few Mac and Linux machines within an organization. So, Microsoft continued to lock-in their customers to Windows and Active Directory.
After Apple faced a series of poor choices and mistakes, Steve Jobs came back in 1997 to revitalize the company. Over the years, Macs got better; the iPhone was introduced; iPads became popular; and end users started to move to Apple products in droves. Active Directory struggled with this IT transformation, so IT admins largely left Macs unmanaged.
The Cons of Not Managing Macs
Why is it a bad idea to leave Macs and Mac users unmanaged? Well, first, this means Mac users can do whatever they want with their Macs. End users are in control of who can access their machine, the complexity (or should we say simplicity) of their password, and whether or not they update their Mac system. Additionally, end users are also responsible for troubleshooting their system when problems arise.
With just a few Macs in an environment, this BYOD type of strategy for Mac user management is fine, although not really secure. But when your environment shifts to a fleet of Macs, unmanaged Macs create a major blind spot in an IT organization’s security posture. So, IT admins have been on the lookout for Mac management tools. But, what is Mac user management supposed to look like in the modern era?
Well, ideally, system management tools would support not only Macs, but Windows and Linux machines as well because it just doesn’t make sense to have Active Directory to manage Windows machines and another solution to manage Macs. Also, the capabilities of Mac management software need to mirror those of Active Directory – deep, native control over Mac user management and then GPO-like controls over the Mac system. In short, what IT admins want is a reimagination of Active Directory for the modern era of cross-platform and cloud environments.
The good news is that there is an answer to the Mac management problem. It is called JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service®.
What is Mac User Management with JumpCloud?
JumpCloud integrates with Mac, Linux, and Windows machines to provide IT admins with management over all the systems in their environment. With JumpCloud Commands, IT admins can use a variety of scripting languages to remotely execute tasks and configure systems. Another feature, called JumpCloud Policies, enables control over system behavior, and these don’t require any scripting. Using Policies, it’s possible to do things like disable USB storage devices on Mac, Windows, and Linux. Together, these features provide GPO-like capabilities that IT admins can leverage in modern cross-platform environments.
In addition to deep system management, JumpCloud also centralizes user management for the following IT resources:
- On-prem and web-based applications
- Local and cloud servers
- Physical and virtual file storage
- Wired and WiFi networks
From one pane of glass, IT organizations can control Mac, Linux, and Windows systems and secure access to all of their digital assets while users gain a more productive workflow.
Find out more about what is Mac user management with JumpCloud by reaching out to us. For a more in-depth look, consider signing up for a free account. Your first ten users are free forever, and you’ll be able to test how well JumpCloud integrates with all of your IT resources.