I used to be an avid Mac user and major Apple fanboy back in like 2011-2013. Then I joined Microsoft and got to see the other side, the dark side… Somewhere in the hidden corners of the internet, I even have a blog post called “once you go Mac, you never go back” saying I would never use anything else then a Mac.
Jokes a side. Coming out of a more communications and media technology world from college, Apple and Macs was the best there was. Then the iPhone came along and changed the whole mobile device world.
I was a Mac user from around 2008 until 2017 even if in the later years I rarely used my personal Mac. Then the Surface Laptop was released and that’s what my personal laptop still is.
Now that I’m about 10 years older than in 2011 and I have a completely different approach to things. One is not better than the other, it totally depends on who will use it if it’s better or not.
This post will not cover HOW to configure, more discuss why and what.
macOS and management
So, how would you go at this?
Just like for mobile devices, there are a lot of different tools for managing macOS. As usual, my approach is Microsoft Intune, but for macOS specifically there might be other tools like Jamf Pro which has a lot more features (but also comes with a completely different price tag).
You know I’m all for making use of what you have and getting the most bang for your buck, so let’s talk about macOS and Microsoft Intune.
Setting the expectations right
One thing to keep in mind when it comes to managing macOS. The possibilities are not even close to what you can do on a Windows 10 machine, and what we can control comes down to what APIs Apple allows mobile device management tools to use. Setting up management for macOS and expecting the functionality of a domain joined computer, this is not what you will get.
The experience is more closely related to how you approach managing mobile device. You put a management layer on top of the experience. There basically three ways to view management of Mac’s:
- Automated Device Enrollment
- Device Enrollment
- User enrolled
The two first ones are the most common ones while User enrolled is more for BYOD scenarios and gives less functionality and manageability. Both device-based methods are very similar, but the Automate Device Enrollment makes use of the Apple Automated Device Enrollment service, ADE (previously DEP), which will increase the possibilities for management and prohibit the user from removing the enrollment.
The experience to enroll macOS is more closely related to how you approach managing mobile device. You put a management layer on top of the experience. macOS utilizes what is called “User Approved enrollment” which means that the user must ALLWAYS approve the installation of management profiles, even is automated device enrollment is used. This will add extra steps to the enrollment process compared to mobile or Windows devices where this is automated in a higher degree.
If you are looking for a more deeply integrated management method, Jamf Pro is more where you need to head, but then we are talking additional licensing.
What to manage
Moving on to what you need to manage on the device. This is of course based on your organizational needs, both regarding configurations and security. There are however a few things that might be a good minimum, such as:
- Wi-Fi settings
- Encryption and FileVault (macOS equalent to Bitlocker)
- Endpoint protection
- Application distribution
- Compliance settings
- SSO extension
There are a lot of more things we could potentially configure, but keeping it to a bare minimum, this is a great start and does not limit us from expanding this down the road.
One thing to use as a guiding principle is to think about what you NEED to manage and not configure settings just because you can. Is there a need to block let’s say Spotlight suggestions, or could this be useful for the user and resulting in a poorer end-user experience? This is important to keep in mind for all platforms, not only macOS to be honest. Don’t block just because you can, configure based on needs.
So why do you want to manage your Mac’s? That is the million-dollar question and something that you need to figure out before even starting. This doesn’t need to be super fancy or technical, just define the goal you have. This might be:
- Ensure that all devices are secure
- Get inventory of what devices are used
- Provide your users with a better experience
Or you could have more defined demands coming from your organization regarding legal demands or security demands.
By managing your Mac’s, you will gain a better understanding of what devices are used within your organization and you can ensure that you provide your users with a good and secure platform. By managing the device, you can also provide settings such as Wi-Fi access automatically to the devices without the need for the end-user to know where to find the information. Same would go for applications. You will bring the platform closer to what you know and love when it comes to device management even though the expectations need to be separate from let’s say the Windows platform.