Tuesday, 11 October 2016 18:03

JAMF simplifies Apple management


Mac and iOS device management is made easy by JAMF's Casper Suite.

JAMF Software's goal is to provide IT administrators and end-users with an Apple-like experience when managing iPads, iPhones and Macs, chief executive Dean Hager told iTWire.

"Managing to the lowest common denominator [across platforms] isn't going to make anyone happy," he observed – apart from any other considerations, support costs will rocket because it becomes hard to do anything.

JAMF achieves a high level of simplicity by "embracing every bit of Apple technology" and the result is that admins can deploy the company's Casper Suite without having to touch the devices to be managed.

This works by taking advantage of Apple's Device Enrolment Programme. When a Mac or iOS device is purchased directly from Apple or though a participating authorised reseller it can be registered as being owned by an organisation. When it is first switched on and connected to the Internet, it connects to an Apple server which will then recognise it as an enrolled device and direct it to the relevant configuration server – in this case JAMF's. The configuration server then loads the required software and settings onto the device.

BYOD devices can be configured this way by asking the owner to visit a particular URL.

The enrolment process even works if a lost or stolen device is wiped, either by the owner or whoever has gained possession.

Some JAMF customers take advantage of this feature to conveniently recycle devices. For example, one healthcare provider gives each in-patient an iPad loaded with the appropriate software for the duration of their stay. On discharge, Casper Suite wipes the iPad clean and then reloads the software when the next patient powers it up.

Casper Suite includes the option of wiping just the managed apps and content from BYOD hardware, leaving the owner's personal information and apps untouched, said Hager.

"We are very keen on privacy," he said, so the suite does not track a device's location unless it has been listed as lost or stolen.

JAMF has more than 9000 customers, including 19 of the world's top brands and seven of the top 10 media organisations and universities, he said. Almost seven million devices are managed by Casper Suite and Bushel (a similar service from JAMF that's aimed at small businesses and, to a lesser extent, families).

Customer retention "is unbelievably high," he claimed.

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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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