If you are using a Mac in a business environment, you might want to know that Apple offers a wide range of office tools and in this article you will find several management tools for IT organizations.
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The first one we would like to talk about is Centrify Direct Control which can be considered as a solid alternative to the Active Directory plug-in provided by Apple. You might want to know that there’s a free version available called Centrify Express, but the powerful solution would have to be the commercial version which can integrate with the Active Directory for extending the schema in a safe way in order to permit administrators to apply group policies. These policies are mirroring the ones that Apple can provide in the Managed Preferences and can be considered just as scalable as other ones. We also have to mention that Direct Control has smartcard support for Mac OS X Lion.
We continue with JAMF Casper Suite that is an Apple-specific solution that is integrated with the company’s global enterprise support services. It manages to provide full lifecycle management, including here system deployments, inventory/asset management, software control and auditing, patch management and software rollouts, along with remote control for end-use support. If you haven’t heard of LANDesk before, you should know that this is a lifecycle management and multiplatform systems suite that supports Microsoft Windows OS X and Linux as well. It offers support for software discovery and distribution, patch management, centralizer security & anti-virus services, help desk functionality and several device management possibilities. Another important alternative to the Active Directory plug-in would have to be Thursby’s ADmitMac which has numerous advanced features, like DFS browsing support for those Macs that are running on an older version of the operating system. In addition, it provides smartcard support for Lion. With AdmitMac, the administrators have the possibility to tap into the Manager Preferences architecture from Apple without OS X Server. It does this by hosting client management data on a network share. Not only for Macs but also for Windows-running computers, you can use FileWave which if you did not know is a software deployment & management tool which makes it easier for you to install & remove apps with the help of a central management interface. It works just about the same as those installations based on packets, but you are able to remove software and also perform updates very easily. You could also consider Flexera which can provide license and software management solutions. For the computers running on Mac it has support for license management, auditing and software distribution. These features are also supported in Windows and Unix environments. A multi-platform IT automation suite is Puppet which is great as a Mac management tool as it provides remote discovery for your Mac system and configuration. Puppet can also support private and public cloud management as well as policy compliance solutions.
Regarding Absolute Manage, this would have to be a handy suite which focuses mostly on full lifecycle management for Macs, PCs and iOS-running devices. For Macs it has support for monolithic system imaging, inventory/asset management, patch management, software deployment, security/system change management and license management as well. Last but certainly not least, Quest gives you a wide array of enterprise management solutions like Exchange, Active Directory, network security and server & cloud virtualization. For Macs it has a Group Policy that extends Active Directory just like Centrify’s Direct Control.
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