Mountain Lion Server’s Profile Manager illustrates the future of Mac and iOS management.
Since the release of Snow Leopard Server three years ago, Apple has been steering its server platform away from large enterprise deployments. Instead Apple has redesigned OS X Server to meet the needs of the small to mid-size business market as well as the needs of Apple-centric departments or workgroups in larger organizations. That focus is very clear if you download and install Mountain Lion Server or look through the Mountain Lion Server documentation from Apple.
One of the transitions that Apple began in Lion and Lion Server, which were released last summer, was a move away from the traditional Mac management architecture that Apple has provided in OS X Server since it launched the platform more than a decade ago. In its place, Apple has built a management system for Macs that is very similar to the mobile management features available in iOS.
Workgroup Manager and Managed Preferences are alive and kicking in Mountain Lion Server.
In addition to launching Mountain Lion Server last week, Apple rather quietly released a Mountain Lion Server version of Workgroup Manager – the traditional Mac management tool included in previous releases of OS X Server. The move was unexpected after Apple released the Advanced Administration guide for Mountain Lion Server, which implied that administrators would need to begin an almost-immediate shift to Mountain Lion Server’s Profile Manager.
The move is good news for many organizations that have an existing investment in OS X Server and Mac clients. Although Mountain Lion Server’s Profile Manager is arguably a more modern and enterprise-friendly solution, it only supports Macs running Lion and Mountain Lion. Any schools or businesses with clients still on Leopard or Snow Leopard would be out of luck if Profile Manager were the only available option.
Apple release Lion/enterprise docs on its training site
Apple has added several whitepapers to its training site. All them address enterprise technologies in Lion. While many of the whitepapers have been available from Apple in the past, two of them appear to be new additions. The first of these details the use of Configuration Profiles to manage Macs running Lion as well as iOS device while the second covers 802.1X networking.
The first new whitepaper, which isn’t dated, is definitely the more interesting of the two. It discusses Mac management as an extension of mobile device management (MDM). As we reported last week, Apple appears to be positioning Macs running Mountain Lion to be managed in the same manner as iOS devices rather than using its long-standing Managed Preferences architecture that has been built into OS X and OS X Server since their initial releases over a decade ago.
Mac IT specialists need a unique set of skills and knowledge
Recent data shows that nearly half of all companies offer or provide Macs to employees and that the Macs represent about 7% computers in the workplace. That’s according to a Forrester report that was issued last month and that prompted me to write a feature about how deploying and managing large Mac populations in enterprise environments differs significantly from supporting a handful of Macs.
In that that article, I covered a lot of the tools IT departments rely on to handle large scale Mac deployments. Knowing what those tools are is a great starting point, but there are also several key skills that IT professionals managing and/or supporting Macs in business need regardless of whether they’re dealing with a half dozen Macs or upwards of a thousand.