Application Delivery for OS X
I have been wanting to write about Application Delivery for OS X, for a very long time, mostly because the products available for these kind of services that the bread and butter of Desktop Engineers in corporate America are pretty much obscure.
Last year I did a research where I took a look at several Application Delivery and Profile Management Tools for OS X Clients, the best ones that stood out where Munki, JAMF Casper and Filewave.
Munki is an open-source software deployment system for Mac OS X released by Walt Disney Animation Studios and written by Greg Neagle. Greg presented Munki 2.0 at the Mac Sys Admin Conference 2014
Munki is a great platform because it’s free (as in beer), but setting it up at first can seem a very daunting task if you have not configured a web server before. But once deployed it offers the greatest flexibility between letting users carry on with their work when there’s a not so important update until it’s convenient for them to stop and forcing the update (but still warning them appropriately) when it’s critical. It has a great community with great supporters like Graham Gilbert and Greg Neagle, Pepijn Bruienne, among others.
A good place to begin with a Munki installation would be the Getting Started with Munki section and the demonstration setup over at the Munki site in Github, also be sure to check up the Munki FAQ.
For support, there are Munki system integrators, like pebble.it, you may also ask Rich Trouton over at derflounder (honestly couldn’t find anybody else, if you are a Munki integrator or know of someone, just put it on the comments and I will add it here) You can also join the munki-dev google group or check out Munki-Dev at Github, Munki does have a great community, they are pretty supportive and a very resourceful bunch. If you want someone to dive into the problem its going to take an integrator that has an expertise in Munki to help you sort it out. As far as open source solutions go, Munki a favorite platform here at enterpriseosx.com
Sometime around March we are going to give Munki the attention it deserves by covering it from top to bottom and will include a step-by-step of how to install, configure and deploy applications.
*Much thanks to Pepijn from http://enterprisemac.bruienne.com, for pointing out we needed to update the Munki information.
JAMF’s ideas on how enterprise works need a little bit of thought. When I approached them with my interest to have a test environment of Casper, instead of reaching out and discuss what typeof Proof of Concept, we wanted to build, they requested us to BUY a demo from them at $6,000 + the costs of their Jump Start. This is akin to driving a Mercedes Benz but paying for the test drive. At this point when we refused, then they came up with something that they thought would be more akin to our line of thought, and instead they offered a PoC with Jump Start included for $3000. We again refused. It wasn’t until 3 months later we were approached by a VP of Marketing to ask us why we refused to demo their product, and we explained that we don’t buy demo’s of software we are testing, at that point I had already spoken with another vendor who gave me everything I needed without any charges, but finally at this point as well Casper finally gave us the test drive we requested earlier, three months after the original request.
The setup of a Casper server can be quite involved, but chances are if you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s already been done for you during your Jump Start.
Casper’s method of getting software into the system is simple, but incredibly long winded. You seem to be expected to repackage nearly everything, which is a major pain in the ass. Your JAMF rep will point you towards the pre-made templates in Composer – ironically, most of the apps listed in there, shouldn’t need repackaging in the first place as they’re either distributed in reasonable packages (like Office) or have tools available to make a package (like Creative Suite). Once you’ve got the package, it’s super simple to get the package into Casper – crack open Casper Admin and drag the package into it. You need to then make a policy which somehow installs the software (more on that in the next section).
Gilbert Graham commented on one of his Casper Vs Munki article, “One of the things we didn’t like about Casper was that their product consists of a bunch of different applications to get one job done. Casper is really easy to use, but a complete faff every time you need to get new software onto your macs. You shouldn’t need to repackage. Ever. Especially for drag and drop app installations.“
Casper seems to be the product by most Mac System Admins choose by default. Something very positive is they have a really open resourceful community. It doesn’t matter if you are a Casper customer or not, the community provides answers for a lot of Mac Administration problems. Granted its focused to resolving the problem with Casper, but it allows non Casper admins to get a good view at the support they could offer if you used Casper as your deployment tool.
Filewave is a multiplatform application delivery and mobile device management suite. Contrary to other tools, Filewave incorporates all of its tools and services under one application that can be installed on Apple Mac OS X or Microsoft Windows, regardless that you manage OS X or Windows Devices.
One of the reasons we chose Filewave was because it was a tool we felt truly integrated with Mac OS X. Top 5 points:
- Stupid easy to install, Server configuration is a breeze. You can run the server on OS X (client), Windows or as a VM off ESXi or VMWare Workstation or Fusion even, regardless if you are supporting mac alone or mac and windows + mdm.
- All the tools it provides are part of one central application that runs on both Windows or Mac even if you are only supporting Mac OS X.
- You can automate deployments very easily and with very little scripting, but if you need to do something that requires heavy scripting to do so, you can do it with Filewave as well with no messy workflows.
- It’s very secure.
- Their support is very flexible and top notch.
I first heard of Filewave from a presentation that Daniel Svensson, Product Specialist ICCMac & ThinClients, IKEA IT AB, gave during Mac Admin Conference 2013 in Switzerland called Building the Enterprise Mac Client, you can also check the presentation PDF from here. When I saw what they were accomplishing with Filewave they just blew me away.
This is it for now. The next article will cover the installation and configuration of the Filewave Server. We have been awarded by Filewave permission to give out their base installation without any fuzz for anyone interested in following these tutorials. More information later on.