Alternatives to Profile Manager for Macs
Apple’s Profile Manager is an example of a Mobile Device Management (MDM) system. Despite the “mobile” designation, many MDM systems can manage desktop computers. The Profile Manager is no exception. It can be used to centrally configure and lock down Macs, iPhones, iPads, and Apple TVs. While there are a huge number of MDM vendors for iOS devices, there is a smaller list of products than can manage macOS profiles. In my research, I’ve come across the following commercial alternatives to Profile Manager that work with Macs.
Meraki: This is a free service for up to 100 computers. It must be licensed if you ever managed more than 100 computers. It has very nice features, like dashboards to show the status of connected Macs. It can manage an institutional key for FileVault. You can also remotely control Macs via screen sharing. Meraki can configure the Macs’ preferences, but not to the same degree as Profile Manager. (Cisco says that Profile Manager should be used in conjunction with Meraki when needed.)
Jamf Pro: Jamf Pro (formerly Casper) is the Cadillac of tools for managing Macs. The suite goes well beyond configuration profile management, and its cost reflects that. IBM uses Jamf Pro to manage its 90,000 employee Macs. Jamf also offers a lighter-weight cloud-based solution, Jamf Now.
If I’ve left out any products that bear mentioning, please comment below. I’d also love to hear your experiences, good or bad, using any of these products.