5 macOS management software options for the enterprise
While Windows desktops are still the leading OS in the enterprise, organizations have adopted macOS desktops, and each OS requires a different management approach.
Apple's macOS devices are becoming more prevalent in the enterprise, but IT needs special tools to manage them alongside Windows desktops.
Numerous endpoint management tools now support macOS and Windows management -- such as Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM), which supports macOS devices. But products that can manage multiple OSes often have limited macOS management capabilities. IT administrators should consider their circumstances when evaluating macOS management software, including the organization's existing platforms and tools and the available budget.
Organizations that deploy macOS desktops should consider adopting tools specializing in macOS, such as one of the following five macOS management software options.
Apple Business Essentials
Apple Business Essentials is a fully hosted device management platform. The tool helps automate device setup, patching, backup, onboarding and security for Apple products and supports macOS desktops, iPhones, iPads and Apple TVs. However, Apple does require the devices to meet a minimum OS level, listed as the following:
- iOS 15
- iPadOS 15
- macOS 12.0.1
- tvOS 15
With Apple Business Essentials, IT professionals can manage device inventory, applications, desktop security, OS settings, system upgrades and receive support 24/7. Apple Business Essentials is available only as an online service -- not as an on-premises product.
This article is part of
What is desktop management and how does it work?
Apple Business Essential's macOS management software provides a centralized dashboard that surfaces desktop health and security issues, such as low batteries or hard drives without storage. Admins can manage OS updates, import employee directories, change password requirements, set disk encryption and manage other device configurations from the app. Remember that it's limited to Apple devices only, which means that administrators managing multiple desktop OSes must navigate multiple tools.
Apple Business Essentials is available in three subscriptions: An administrator can choose the appropriate plan based on the mix of devices within the company. Some plans allow for each user to have multiple devices.
- Single device plan ($2.99 per device, per month)
- Multidevice plan ($6.99 per user, per month)
- Multidevice plan with additional cloud storage ($12.99 per user, per month)
Single device plan
Single device plans are ideal for users with one device and include 50 GB of storage. Device-only plans for kiosks, displays, etc. Do not include storage. This is ideal for users who may have a Macbook or any Apple desktop or laptop device they use for work, have most of their data stored in the cloud and don't require any additional devices or storage.
Multidevice plans let IT manage up to three devices for each user, with 200 GB of storage. This plan suits users who use an iPhone, an iPad, an Apple desktop or laptop or other combinations. The additional storage can support backup needs and iCloud storage.
Multidevice with additional cloud storage
This plan is nearly identical to the multidevice plan except for significantly more storage -- up to 2 TB. This plan is best for power users who require additional space for their data on any device.
Jamf Pro is a full-featured unified endpoint management (UEM) tool that allows IT to manage macOS devices, iPads, iPhones and Apple TVs. Jamf Pro is available as a cloud service or on-premises platform, and it provides an extensible REST API for custom integrations. Jamf Pro also supports the Apple Business Manager (ABM) and Apple School Manager programs, Apple's services for managing Apple devices. Both these services include the Apple Device Enrollment Program (DEP).
Jamf Pro targets five administrative areas: deployment, device management, app management, security and inventory. Admins can use policies and scripts to customize devices, purchase apps in bulk and make them available through a self-service catalog. In addition, Jamf Pro makes it possible for IT pros to secure Apple devices using their native security features.
Jamf Pro can fit with organizations of all sizes. Pricing starts at $3.33 per month, per iOS or tvOS device and $7.17 per month, per macOS device. Jamf also offers education and volume discounts and a free trial program. Although Jamf Pro only supports Apple devices, organizations can share inventory data with SCCM and integrate with Active Directory user authentication and group membership. In addition, Jamf Pro's REST API allows for integration with other tools and services.
Parallels Mac Management for Microsoft SCCM
Parallels Mac Management is geared toward organizations that use SCCM (Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager) to manage Windows and macOS desktops. Parallels Mac Management is an SCCM plugin that customers can download from the Parallels site. The plugin enables administrators to manage macOS desktops the same way they control Windows desktops.
Parallels Mac Management provides full lifecycle management for macOS systems. This offering integrates with SCCM's Active Directory System Discovery feature and supports the Apple device enrollment program. Parallels Mac Management can collect Apple macOS hardware and software inventory and use SCCM's configuration items and baselines to enforce compliance on macOS devices. With Parallels Mac Management, administrators can use their SCCM skills to manage macOS systems without expertise in macOS.
Parallels Mac Management locks organizations into SCCM, so IT admins should consider whether that's a useful addition to their infrastructure when committing to this macOS management software.
Ivanti Unified Endpoint Manager
Ivanti's Unified Endpoint Manager is a full-service, on-premises UEM platform for administering Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Chromebook, Apple TV, Raspberry Pi, IoT devices and more. IT professionals can also manage user profiles and policies related to users and groups. Unified Endpoint Manager automates tasks while enabling administrators to change configurations or push packages to users.
With Unified Endpoint Manager, administrators can discover, inventory and configure all their devices while deploying to thousands of machines in minutes. Admins can roll out OS updates, distribute software or deploy patches to different user groups. Unified Endpoint Manager also provides provisioning templates for automating update processes. In addition, admins can standardize their macOS images and participate in Apple's DEP.
Because Unified Endpoint Manager encompasses so many platforms, administrators can manage all their devices from a single dashboard, which also offers reporting and alerting capabilities. This can eliminate the need to negotiate licenses for multiple tools for some organizations. Some customers have found the offering complicated, with a steep learning curve. There is no public pricing information available, so organizations must contact Ivanti directly and request a quote. Ivanti also offers a free trial.
VMware Workspace One
Workspace One integrates VMware AirWatch endpoint management technology with VMware Horizon to create a digital workspace. Workspace One provides access control, application management and endpoint management across desktop, mobile and IoT devices, including iOS, Android, Windows 10 and macOS. Workspace One supports Apple's ABM program and is available as a cloud service or on-premises platform.
Workspace One comes with a wide assortment of features, which IT can access from a single console. For example, administrators can employ zero-touch options to onboard new devices. Workspace One also provides productivity apps for email and other tasks. In addition, the platform is fully integrated with VMware Horizon and VMware Horizon Cloud, which can help simplify virtualization operations. Some customers have reported ease of use and integration issues, but Workspace One is a highly rated product.
Workspace One comes in four editions, suitable for various organizations based on their user and endpoint requirements. VMware offers a perpetual license for its on-premises offering, but organizations must contact the vendor directly for pricing information. However, VMware publishes the monthly subscription rates for the cloud service, as follows:
- Standard service is $3.78 per device or $6.52 per user, per month
- Advanced service is $6 per device or $10.90 per user, per month
- Enterprise service is $10 per device or $15 per user, per month
- Enterprise for VDI service is $20 per device or $25 per user, per month