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Intune Modern Workplace

Once you go Mac…

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)
  • PIN/Password
  • 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.

Why manage?

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.

Categories
Intune Modern Workplace

What is the difference between a user and a device?

As I’m browsing through the Microsoft Q&A forum for Intune related question, there is one thing that I see which seems to be a quite common misconception. That misconception is the difference between what a user is and what a device is.

It’s not that people don’t know the physical difference between what a user (a person) and a device (an object) is, it’s in the sense of how they differ in Intune management and the cloud world.

Let’s try to sort this out, shall we?

Definitions:
  • User noun – “A person who uses or operates something.”
  • Device noun – “A thing made or adapted for a particular purpose, especially a piece of mechanical or electronic equipment”

Disclaimer: I’m trying to wright this extremely simple and basically assuming that the term user and device is not known.

Who is the user?

The user is the person who in your organization is consuming the services and using devices. Users are usually a 1:1 scenario, but you might also have service users and group users. Behind a user there is in most cases ONE person (the Microsoft license structure kind of assumes this as well).

In an Intune context, the user is the person who uses the device. The user is in a the most common context tied to a specific device where the user is the primary user and owner of the device.

A user might have multiple devices such as a computer, a phone, and a tablet.

An Azure AD user

What is the device?

The device is the piece hardware which the services are consumed on. This can be a computer, tablet, or phone. The device must, in an Intune context, run any of the supported operating systems:

  • iOS
  • iPadOS
  • macOS
  • Windows 10
  • Android

The device usually has one main user and owner, which is the one tied to the device in Intune and Azure AD.

An Intune enrolled device

What is the difference and why does it matter?

But why does this all matter?

The reason this is important is in how you in Intune would distribute configurations, compliance policies, applications and so on.

When you distribute any of these in Intune, you get to select whether you want to assign this to users or devices. Without knowing the difference, knowing which option to select is hard.

However, the item itself is never applied to the user. It is ALWAYS applied to the device. The assignment only decides on what devices to apply the item in question.

If you assign to a device

If you assign your e.g. configuration with a device centric approach, this means that the configuration will only follow that device. If the user uses another device, the configuration will not be present on the second device.

If you assign to a user

If you assign your e.g. configuration with a user centric approach, this means that the configuration will follow the user. If the user uses another device, the configuration will apply also to that device (given it’s applicable for the device type).

The key take away

It pretty much defines how your configurations, policies and applications are distributed and utilized.

The conclusion of this is that, depending on what scenario you want to fulfill, you might have to assign things in different ways. There are also a few things that might make more sense in distributing in one way or another.

One thing that is important to keep in mind around applications is however the fun topic of licensing. Depending on how you have licensed an application, you might have to distribute in a certain way. So that is something that is important to think about when purchasing applications.