MDM moves beyond mobile devices into Macs

MobileIron now supports OS X Mountain Lion, a sign of growing adoption of non-Windows devices

MobileIron today announced that its mobile device management (MDM) tool now supports the new OS X Mountain Lion operating system for Macs, released on Wednesday. The company cited fast adoption of Macs in business as the reason it moved out of its mobile-only roots (iOS, Android, and some lesser-used mobile OSes). "Forrester Research forecasts that enterprises will spend $19 billion on the Mac and iPad in 2012, with that number increasing to $28 billion in 2013," MobileIron noted. In June, MDM provider AirWatch annoucned similar support for OS X Lion and says Mountain Lion support is due soon.

The management capabilities MobileIron and AirWatch offer IT for OS X are minimum passcode and password requirements, Wi-Fi and VPN configurations, authentication certificates (for users, apps, and devices), email configuration, remote lock and wipe, and removal of enterprise provisioning information when retiring Macs. Although OS X Server provides these same capabilities for Macs and iOS devices, it requires that IT have a separate server than what is used for managing other devices and doesn't provide as much management capability as available in an MDM tool such as MobileIron's or AirWatch's.

[ For tips and tools for managing an enterprise Mac fleet, download InfoWorld's free "Business Mac" Deep Dive PDF special report today. | See InfoWorld's slideshow tour of OS X Mountain Lion's top 25 features and test your Apple smarts with our Apple IQ test: Round 2. | Keep up with key Apple technologies with the Technology: Apple newsletter. ]

MobileIron and AirWatch are not the only company to support both Macs and mobile devices for security management, but they are the first major MDM vendors to do so. Symantec's Altiris and Centrify's Centrify Suite, for example, have recently added Mac and iOS support to their Windows-oriented client management tools, a response to the fact that businesses increasingly are supporting endpoint diversity rather than insisting on a Windows monoculture.

And MobileIron earlier this year developed APIs to let Microsoft System Center 2012 manage mobile devices through MobileIron's server, so Windows admins could manage mobile devices through the familiar System Center console.

That follows a trend of expanding System Center beyond Microsoft's Windows focus led by Quest Software, which offers both OS X and mobile (iOS and Android) add-ons to System Center. (Dell agreed to buy Quest earlier this month, bulking up its system management portfolio, which also includes Kace.) Symantec recently bought Odyssey Software for its System Center add-on for iOS and Android, but it does not support OS X. Meraki offers an MDM tool that can also manage Macs and Windows PCs if you install a client on them.

Apple too has increasingly moved to make OS X more enterprise-friendly, following the strategy used in iOS to make the iPhone and iPad trusted devices in most businesses. For example, OS X Mountain Lion has exposed its FileVault whole-disk encryption capability to third-party management tools, so companies can now manage Mac encryption through a central tool, rather than manually configure each Mac. Last year's Mac operating system, OS X Lion, added support for XML-based configuration profiles similar to those used in iOS that let third-party tools, as well as OS X Server, manage Mac settings over the air. This year's OS X Mountain Lion also adds support for FIPS 140-2 security, required by many government agencies and high-security businesses.

This article, "MDM moves beyond mobile devices into Macs," was originally published at Follow the latest developments in business technology news and get a digest of the key stories each day in the InfoWorld Daily newsletter. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.