JAMF's Casper Suite makes it easier to set up, deploy, manage iOS devices

Software leverages new, improved Apple enterprise services

A new release of JAMF Software's Casper Suite automates management tasks for iOS devices by leveraging key changes Apple has introduced for enterprise customers.

The Casper software is focused exclusively on managing Macs, iPhone, and iPads for the enterprise. The new 9.3 release minimizes IT involvement in tasks such as onboarding new iOS devices and users. As a result, new company-owned iPhones and iPads can be set up beforehand to get a user-specific configuration, settings, and stack of applications, without having to be individually, and manually, managed by IT, and without user involvement.

The Casper 9.3 screenshot shown here illustrates part of the automated device activation process. By checking boxes, an administrator can require authentication, classify the device as "supervised," or mandate a mobile device management profile, for example.

JAMF Casper

Click to see: A new workflow in JAMF’s Casper Suite 9.3 automates the deployment and configuration of OS X and iOS devices.

Apple’s Device Enrollment Program, or DEP, exposes a set of services that JAMF 9.3 (or other third-party applications) can now call. When a new enterprise iOS device is powered on, it associates with a Casper Suite server, and the server kicks off a set of processes to configure the device to comply with corporate standards. In the past, all this work had to be done manually, through a variety of tools, some of them from Apple. What’s more, for the first time, Apple devices now can be locked down as “supervised” devices. In the past, this had to be done locally for each device and users could circumvent supervision.

Apple has also changed its enterprise-focused Volume Purchase Plan, or VPP. For the first time, a company or school, rather than an individual user, can buy apps or books, and then assign use of them to specific users. If the user leaves, the company can reassign the app to another employee. Third-party vendors, as JAMF has done with Casper 9.3, then build a UI and workflow on top of this service to let IT groups systematize the process.

For example, Casper can make use of a company’s directory groupings, and automatically associate the users in those groups with a specific set of iOS apps. That makes sure all the group members have what they need to do their jobs.

The DEP and improved VPP “are paradigm-changing technologies because of the Apple ecosystem,” says Jason Wudi, CTO for JAMF Software. “It enables things that you couldn’t do before. Now, you can expose a wealth of features in your enterprise, and our product lets IT and users realize the capabilities of these Apple services.”

By leveraging the Apple’s device enrollment and volume purchase programs, Casper 9.3 lets IT see hardware assignments by user, assign apps to users, have a single view of all Apple assets and their use patterns, and automate much of the “life cycle” of deploying and configuring Apple hardware and the attendant applications and services, and of managing their use and revocation/reassignment as needed.

Casper Suite 9.3 is available now. Perpetual licensing for non-Education enterprise customers starts at $90 plus 20 percent annual support and maintenance for OSX; and at $45 plus 20 percent annual support and maintenance for iOS.  Volume discounts are available.

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.http://twitter.com/johnwcoxnwwjohn_cox@nww.com

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