Bringing Macs into the Fold
Administrators looking to bring Macs into the AD fold will find a plethora of options, policies and objects that rival AD's native support for Windows PCs. Likewise allows AD to interact with a Mac's MCX (Managed Client Settings), which means group policies can update MCX-extending AD security and controls directly into Mac OS X computers-without the need for software shims or OS hacks.
Likewise Enterprise accomplishes that by integrating Workgroup Manager for Mac into AD and enabling MCX settings to be saved as standard AD Group Policy Objects without modifying existing AD schema. There are policies that can prevent automatic log-ons, control the firewall, secure system preferences and so on.
I also found that Likewise Enterprise offers "green policies" for Mac OS X systems, allowing you to enforce sleep mode, automatically shut down systems and perform many other functions related to power savings. Larger enterprises using a number of Macs will find that employing energy-saving policies can lower electric costs noticeably.
Network managers should appreciate the Mac server administration tool, which I found to be a real timesaver. I used it to remotely manage users, groups and computer settings on Macs, all without having to physically touch the systems. Enhanced support for Mac clients removes many of the barriers that have prevented Macs from joining a Windows network. Not only does Likewise Enterprise solve authentication and management issues, but compliance considerations as well. Compliance requirements are usually one of the reasons Macs are excluded from a network. Auditors complain that there is no way to fully audit and report on the compliance status of networked Macs. With Likewise Enterprise, that complaint is no longer valid: The product includes compliance reports that will provide the critical information auditors need to determine the level of compliance. Reports are available to meet the needs of Sarbanes-Oxley Act, HIPPA and PCI requirements. Those reports include Macs, Linux systems and pretty much anything Likewise manages.
Likewise Enterprise offers hundreds of policies for Mac, Linux and Unix systems that can be combined to deliver complete policy control, even in the largest of enterprises.
The reports can be used to validate policies in effect, track machines connected and gather information from system logs. They can be generated as Excel spreadsheets or in PDF format. Dozens of reports are included, and since each is customizable, administrators can create any report they need. I found that the inventory reports offered very useful information during the deployment process, as I was able to quickly determine if new systems were properly added to the domain and were able to successfully log in. In addition, a group policy security report helps identify whether the proper security policies have been applied to member systems.
Frank Ohlhorst is a journalist, IT business consultant and speaker with more than 25 years of experience in the technology arenas.