With the popularity of Apple products on the rise, IT departments must
start thinking differently about their management processes.
Due to the broadening
popularity of Apple's desktops and notebooks-and, to a growing extent, of its
iPhone-IT administrators at many enterprises are faced with providing updates,
core applications and network authentication services to greater numbers of Apple
computers and devices.
Fortunately, as Apple's
computing fortunes have risen, an array of options for integrating these
systems with Microsoft Windows-based applications and management infrastructure
also have emerged.
As with the Windows-based
machines in your enterprise, one of the primary tasks facing administrators
charged with managing Apple clients and devices is keeping systems up-to-date
with security patches and bug fixes.
For a look at the centralized update
features built into Mac OS X Server, read Andrew Garcia's story, here.
beyond providing for a solid software update framework, perhaps the most
important task for administrators that service a Mac contingent involves
folding these systems into your organization's identity and policy-based
management framework. For most companies, this means connecting OS X machines
to the AD (Active Directory).
With current OS X versions,
adding machines to an AD domain is a fairly straightforward affair, and the
process has grown appreciably simpler with each passing release. On OS X 10.5,
the operation is practically the same as with Windows systems and involves
launching the OS X Directory Utility, specifying the desired domain and
providing the correct administrator credentials.
To ensure that the same AD
groups empowered to administer Windows domain members can exercise these rights
on OS X clients, you need to specify this behavior in the "allow
administration by" section of your AD service entry in the Directory
For organizations that wish
to extend their AD-centric management embrace of OS X systems beyond
authentication, there are a few third-party applications that can add Microsoft's
Group Policy to your organization's OS X management mix, including Centrify's
DirectControl for Mac and Likewise Software's Likewise Enterprise 4.0, which I
reviewed in January of this year.
During my tests of Likewise
Enterprise, I was able to use Microsoft's standard Group Policy management
tools to push out a set of Mac-specific policies to my OS X test systems, most
of which applied to log-in and network behavior, and many of which governed the
operation of the Bluetooth radios that come built in to many Mac systems. I
could not, however, exert as broad a set of controls over the appearance and operation
of OS X machines as I could over Linux systems running the GNOME desktop.