Friday, February 20, 2009

Easily Manage Hundreds of Apple Mac settings with Microsoft's Group Policy

This is the third post in my series about the innovation around Apple Mac group policies in Quest Software's Authentication Services 3.5 product. For reference, the previous two posts were:

Apple provides the means to manage many system settings through Workgroup Manager. A wide range of settings can be managed from modifying which items appear on a user's Dock, to setting the URL of your software update server. The design of Workgroup Manager makes the configuration of all of these settings easy. The main settings management screen can be seen in the graphic directly below.

While Apple's interface for managing system settings is well designed and easy to use, it requires the Apple Open Directory infrastructure that may not exist in many enterprise environments. Quest now provides the option to easily manage the growing number of MAC systems in the enterprise through the familiar Microsoft Group Policy framework. The newest release of Quest Authentication Services (3.5) includes support for managing your OSX client settings using the Group Policy Object Editor (GPOE), while still providing the same look and feel as Workgroup Manager (see below). In fact, Quest Authentication Services can literally manage hundreds and hundreds of Mac settings and with our ability to extend this via preference manifests we can practically manage an infinite number of settings.

Quest provides a very similar policy management experience for administrators who are already familiar Apple's Workgroup Manager. For example, compare the Apple interface for managing Dock display settings with Quest's interface.

The similarity between the interfaces is not specific to the Dock policy. If you are already familiar with managing settings from workgroup manager, finding the setting you want to manage will be no problem at all with QAS.

Quest also provides a remote file browser that comes in handy when you need to specify OSX file locations from a Windows based management console. A good example of this can been seen when attempting to add a new application to the Dock for group of users. When attempting this operation from Workgroup Manager you are directed to browse for the application path on the local file system. As you aren't likely to find the OSX path for Firefox anywhere on your Windows management workstation, the remote file browser enables you to securely connect to a Mac over SSH and browse for the path.

After providing a username and password for a remote OSX machine, you can browse to the location of your application and select it.

The MAC policy support of QAS 3.5 is exceptional in sheer number of manageable settings, but what really sets Quest apart is the extent to which they make it easy to manage Mac systems with Group Policy.

Any OSX administrators should feel right at home when managing their clients with Group Policy!

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Darren said...

Looks positively Righteous! Can you do per-user settings as well?

Jackson Shaw said...

Darren - Yes, it can do per-user settings as well!