Centrify offers DirectControl for Mobile and DirectControl for Mac
May is Mobile Management Month at Cult of Mac, where we will be profiling a different mobile management company every weekday. You can find all previous entries here and read our Mobile Management manifesto here.
Centrify’s DirectControl for Mobile offers free device management capabilities. Unlike many other management solutions, device management can be performed using mobile-specific Active Directory group policy extensions rather than any additional interface (though a cloud service interface is also available). Being a free solution, DirectControl for Mobile focuses on a handful of device security functionality. Centrify plans to extend the offering over the course of this year with a full featured premium edition. Although completely functional (see our review), Centrify still lists DirectControl as being a beta release. For organizations with minimal needs or limited budgets, DirectControl is a good option. Centrify also produces a Mac client management tool called DirectControl for Mac that uses Active Directory extensions for securing and managing Mac workstations.
With the right iOS tools, IT pros can manage a datacenter from anyplace
The iPhone and iPad are great mobile work solutions for many professions and IT is no exception. With the right collection of apps, virtually every IT job role can become mobile. Systems administrators, user interface designers, and even help desk agents can use their iOS devices to keep tabs on the technologies that they manage and resolve problem at any time from almost anyplace.
IT tools for iOS cover a wide range of ground from basic remote access to network diagramming. Here are a set of tools that no IT department should be without.
With Windows 8, Windows RT, and Windows Phone, Microsoft seems to be copying Apple strategies
Yesterday, Microsoft announced its Windows 8 product lineup. The lineup includes just three editions as opposed to Windows 7 and Vista, which offered twice as many options though some were targeted at developing and niche markets. In addition to streamlining the overall offerings, Microsoft also drew a sharper line between Windows 8 for desktop, notebook, and tablet PCs with x86/64 processors and Windows for ARM-based tablets.
If the dividing line between a full-fledged version of Windows and a version designed for low cost tablets seems vaguely familiar to you, it’s because the strategy is pretty similar to the distinction between Apple’s OS X for Macs and iOS for iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches.
In fact, the entire desktop and mobile lineup that Microsoft is developing seems to borrow pretty heavily from Apple’s playbook.
Thursby updates Mac tool for high security environments
Thursby last week released ADmitMac PKI 4. The release is a specialized version of the company’s ADMit Mac software that focuses two factor authentication. The solution is largely aimed at government customers and regulated industries like healthcare where data security is paramount.
Thursby’s ADMitMac is an Active Directory integration solution that offers several features beyond the built-in Active Directory support that Apple provides in OS X. It offers Mac management capabilities, improved browsing of Windows network resources including Microsoft’s distribute file system, and a number of other administrative tools.
Managing hundreds or thousands of Macs in big companies requires the right skills and tools
Last week I took a brief look at how managing a handful of Macs differs from managing dozens or hundreds or even thousands of Macs. Some readers asked how big companies like Apple, Google, Viacom, or IBM actually go about managing large numbers of Macs – both in terms of the tools they use and in terms of how their IT processes differ from supporting Macs in small businesses.
I can’t speak for how Apple manages the Macs of its thousands of employees, but I have worked with several large companies as a Mac IT professional – along with a number of schools and colleges, government agencies, and small businesses. Here’s a look at the tools and processes that they use to configure, deploy, and manage Macs on a grand scale.
Many pundits have made the argument that the iPad’s days in the business and corporate world will be numbered once Microsoft releases Windows 8 and Windows on ARM (WOA) tablets later this year. The biggest rationale behind this argument is that corporate IT departments will feel much more comfortable deploying and managing Windows devices and that they will already have the skills, tools, and resources needed to setup, secure, and roll out Windows-powered iPad competitors.
That argument lost a lot of credibility this week when Microsoft acknowledged that WOA tablets cannot be managed like other Windows variants including Windows 8 on PCs and x86 tablets or PCs running Windows 7, Vista, or XP. This makes the iPad much more suited for business than Windows on ARM devices.
Microsoft’s Active Directory is a core component in virtually every enterprise network. When I looked at Centrify’s DirectControl for Mobile, I singled out its deep integration with Active Directory as a major feature and a leg up over some of the other mobile device management (MDM) suites on the market. That’s because Active Directory is an essential piece of technology infrastructure in the vast majority of businesses.
Despite being a Microsoft solution (and a feature of Windows Server), Active Directory is a technology that all Apple IT professionals should understand and have some skills in using. With the Xserve gone and OS X Server headed to more limited uses since the release of Lion last summer, Active Directory is becoming a de facto standard for Macs and iOS devices as much as it is for Windows PCs.
Earlier this week, Centrify launched an open beta of the company’s DirectControl for Mobile service. The service, which supports managing iPhones, iPads, and Android devices in business and enterprise settings, currently includes a subset of the features typical in other mobile device management (MDM) systems. Centrify, which is known for providing enterprise integration technologies for OS X as well as various Unix and Linux distributions, plans to maintain the current selection of controls as a free solution when the product emerges from beta while adding further management capabilities to a commercially licensed version.
Most MDM solutions are of the bolted-on variety – they run on a dedicated server or cloud offering that can pull information from enterprise systems like Microsoft’s Active Directory but use a separate management interface and data store for management profiles and other information. Centrify’s DirectControl does offer a cloud management system, but it uses Active Directory itself as the primary interface and data store, an approach that has several advantages including a very minimal learning curve for experienced systems administrators.
Some arguments about Apple never seem die despite the fact that reality has moved on. Arguments like the Mac not being compatible with Windows file sharing or disk formats and that all Apple products being inherently more expensive than any competitors. This morning, Computerworld’s Preston Gralla pulled several of these outdated arguments together to support his opinion that Apple would never unseat Microsoft in the enterprise.
Virtually every argument in this piece is easy to debunk with facts. What’s more important than responding to these outdated myths, however, is realizing that Apple doesn’t want to unseat Microsoft from its current place in the enterprise. Microsoft is actually doing a lot of enterprise heavy lifting for Apple.
Business and technology are two words that have gone together for decades. Business and Apple technology – well, not so much. Let’s face it, Apple made a name of itself by calling out “the man” and not bending to his authority. That rebellious attitude and freedom to be yourself has always typified Mac users and it’s a razor sharp contrast to the image of guys in suits with BlackBerrys and Windows-based laptops.
So, it may be surprising to realize that one in five people use Apple products in the workplace. How do you explain that? Easy. Apple is launching nothing less than a revolution of what technology means in the workplace, and the iPhone and iPad are its agents. Over the next few years, expect nothing less than the total transformation of business and the workplace after Steve Jobs’s own vision.
The first warning shots of that revolution were fired in January 2007 when Steve Jobs announced the iPhone. Most people then didn’t realize the iPhone was going to change the business world – RIM actually sarcastically thanked Apple for creating what its executives considered a toy.