For organizations that are already managing their Windows systems using Microsoft’s System Center Configuration Manager (2012, 2012R2) that have Apple Macs in their environment, the company Parallels (maker of the virtual machine technology for Macs) released a plug-in for the Mac that provides extensive management of Macs from SCCM. (and no, you do NOT need to be running the Parallels VM software on the Mac to use this plug-in, two completely separate parts of the company).In a nutshell, with this Parallels for SCCM add-in, you can:More specifically, what the Parallels Mac Management suite includes:Parallels Suite adds right into the normal SCCM Management Console:Uses nMAP for Network Discovery, same issue as doing a discovery of PCs on a network, will need a helper service to hop across subnets for discovery, but will identify Macs on the network (just like SCCM discovers PCs on a network). Alternate option is to just have users launch/install the agent, just a normal DMG package. (note: for Macs that are already joined to Active Directory, a Summer/2014 release will discover Mac objects through the Active Directory Discovery mechanism of SCCM).System Center’s Resource Explorer takes device inventory and provides a view of the the hardware and OS configuration of the device. A unique function of the solution is that it takes the Service# of the device and checks against the Apple warranty Website to identify whether the device is under warranty or not, that confirms also whether the device is included in AppleCare extended warranty and support program.Application Packaging is fully supported and uses normal SCCM packaging functionality where a package can be created, but instead of an EXE/MSI package in SCCM used against Windows, when creating a package in SCCM, the package for the Mac will be a DMG installer package.The Parallels SCCM plug-in also integrates with System Center’s Compliance Settings and allows for the configuration of password policies, application settings, firewall settings, network settings, etc.Within each device’s configuration profile, settings can be made such as settings as they relate to Apple System Preferences like passcode enforcement, network options, security and privacy controls, as well as Application Settings like profile settings for email, Exchange settings, calendar settings, etc.
• Do bare metal imaging of a Mac from SCCM
• Discovery and inventory Macs (just like PCs)
• Create task sequences to manage Macs (just like PCs)
• Deploy and manage software on Macs (just like PCs)
• Set compliance settings and control Macs (just like PCs)
For organizations that use Parallels Desktop for Virtual Machines, the Parallels SCCM management plug-in includes options for configuring Parallels settings like coherence, resource allocation, backup, sharing options, etc.
The Parallels SCCM plug-in also fully supports bare metal installation of the Mac OS/X operating system on a Mac. For OS installation, a lightweight NetBoot app running on a Windows server needs to be installed on the network. When a Mac is booted up, the administrator just holds down the Option key and choose to boot to the network, which will redirect the boot to SCCM for the selection of an Operating System package on the system.Overall, the solution is impressive, especially for organizations that already have System Center Configuration Manager and are managing Windows-based systems, instead of buying a whole separate management tool to just manage Macs, load up an agent on the Macs and manage them just like the organization manages its PCs.Parallels is selling the agents on an annual subscription basis that includes free upgrades during the year as they update the SCCM management components and the agents to add functionality as well as keep up with the rolling updates in System Center and on Macs. The retail price is $30/user/year, however Parallels will aggressively price the offering for enterprises, and given the alternative of buying a completely separate Mac management suite with the accompanying servers, licenses, management, and training efforts, a sturdy discount from Parallels definitely is an attraction option.For more information, the Parallels Website has more details http://www.parallels.com/products/enterprise/business-solutions/#PMM