The Truth About Managing Macs With an RMM Tool

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MAY 21: Recently released iMac color computers are seen at the 5th Avenue Apple store on May 21, 2021 in New York City. Apple recently launched new consumer products. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)
Jason Dettbarn, founder and CEO, Addigy
Author: Jason Dettbarn, founder and CEO, Addigy

As someone who works exclusively with Apple devices, I find it surprising that many MSPs still use their legacy remote monitoring and management (RMM) tool to manage Macs. Sure, I understand their hesitancy to take on an additional solution, but the improvements to efficiency and security are usually well worth it. 

When speaking to MSPs, we often hear some version of this story: 

“We successfully manage Windows devices with our RMM, but it’s not the same with Macs. The RMM’s functionality for macOS is limited to inventory tracking and remote control for break/fix support, leaving critical holes in security and device control. And to make matters worse, our IT admins must resort to manual processes and create workarounds to do the simplest tasks. This was bearable for a while, but as the number of managed Apple devices grows, we need to find a better way.”

It’s essential to understand why RMM tools aren’t well suited for Macs, and this stems from Apple’s reliance on mobile device management (MDM). Although MDM was originally introduced as a way to manage network-connected mobile phones, Apple now leverages it across devices including Macs, iPads, iPhones, and even Apple TVs. 

Because RMM tools were built specifically to manage Windows devices, they just don’t have what it takes to efficiently and securely manage macOS. They don’t account for critical activities like monitoring and remediation, OS and third-party patch management, security policy enforcement, and the list goes on. Plus, Apple users are accustomed to a streamlined experience. With an RMM, processes are clunky and often manual, leading to user dissatisfaction. This is where an Apple MDM solution becomes critical.  

Considerations for Choosing an MSP-friendly Apple MDM Solution

Although several Apple MDM solutions are on the market, they vary widely. You might find that some are rather complicated and require a lot of resources to implement. In contrast, others lack the flexibility or functionality that could really make a difference in your business. It’s essential that you carefully consider your needs and examine your options. 

Here are just a few capabilities that you should consider when searching for an MSP-friendly Apple MDM/device management solution. 

  • Multi-tenancy. If you want to reduce the friction associated with managing multiple client accounts, look for a multi-tenant solution. This will allow you to manage devices and sweep for issues across your entire client base at once, saving tons of time and effort.
  • A continuous live connection. Many MDM tools only connect to devices a few times per day, leading to a delayed response to serious cybersecurity or device issues. Choosing a solution that provides a continuous live connection to managed devices allows you to catch issues immediately and respond in real-time. (Hint: Look for a solution that combines MDM and agent technology for the best of both worlds).
  • Supports proactive service delivery. If you take a reactionary approach to device management — just fixing problems as they occur — you’re likely exhausted from putting out fires. An Apple device management solution can help break this cycle by allowing you to proactively monitor device health and create workflows for automated remediation
  • Zero-touch enrollment. Using your Apple MDM solution for automated enrollment is a game-changer. You’ll be able to provide a fully secure experience when new devices are delivered to end-users. They’ll be able to log into a secure device that’s already been fully configured without a technician ever touching the device.
  • Apple expertise. Let’s face it; Apple often makes changes quickly that have a cascading impact on devices and users. Without guidance from those who truly understand Apple, you could face unexpected challenges. Bottom line: When looking for a solution to manage Apple devices, a vendor with Apple expertise is crucial. 

As an MSP, you’re always looking for ways to improve efficiency and the bottom line. Selecting the right Apple device management solution can help with that. More importantly, it will allow you to manage Macs to the same level as their Windows counterparts. 

If you’re still managing Apple devices with an RMM tool, know that there is a better way.  Using an MSP-friendly Apple MDM solution alongside your RMM tool is key to ensuring standardization across all the devices in your managed networks and that your clients are fully protected against cyber threats.

Author Jason Dettbarn is founder and CEO at Addigy. Read more Addigy guest blogs here. Regularly contributed guest blogs are part of ChannelE2E’s sponsorship program.