Jamf Pro is a great offering that solved a great number of problems for us!
March 10, 2020

Jamf Pro is a great offering that solved a great number of problems for us!

Ashlar Trystan | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Overall Satisfaction with Jamf Pro

We support two services:
  1. A central computer lab that is open 24/5
  2. An equipment checkout program open to all students
Prior to using Jamf, we were using a combination of free software to push monolithic images to computers, which was slow and inefficient. Since implementing Jamf, we have been able to expand the extent of our service and devote resources towards improving it rather than simply maintaining it. Rather than manage images, we now manage packages, and it is no longer necessary to "reinvent the wheel" periodically when we want to implement changes.
  • Package management - It is simple to update installation by simply adding the latest version of applications.
  • Reproducibility - Once you have workflows in place, then every machine in scope will be identical to every other machine in the same scope. This lends itself to a common user experience.
  • Zero-touch enrollment - A computer will configure itself based on policies and workflows such that a user is able to pull a machine out of a box, turn it on, and allow it to configure itself.
  • Jamf excels in environments in which there is a one-to-one relationship between computers and users, for instance, an office. It takes some additional work to make it work in an environment such as a classroom or computer lab since that one-to-one relationship does not exist.
  • Thus far, my team (and Google, for that matter) have not found a way for Jamf to natively assign names to machines. This is important when working with something like Active Directory, where each computer requires a unique name to be used for binding. Using standard command-line tools and a CSV, we have worked around this. I would like to see Jamf find a way to make this work out of the box--for instance, it should be possible to assign a name to a computer's serial number BEFORE it is ever enrolled in the first place.
  • This is not Jamf's problem, per se. We have long used a tool called Deep Freeze, which allows users to have full access to a computer without being able to make permanent changes to it. Unfortunately, to deactivate Deep Freeze ("Thaw") requires a reboot. To the best of our knowledge, this makes it impossible for us to automate changes to the computers--once a reboot occurs, the policy will no longer execute.
  • Ideally, we should be able to schedule a task--have the machine thaw and reboot--and make a change, followed by a "freeze" and reboot to complete the task. Thus far, this seems to be impossible.
  • I would like to see Jamf find a way to have the server track the tasks it has executed in a policy such that when a computer comes back online, it can continue to execute the remaining tasks.
  • We now devote most of our time to project work--improving workflows, updating apps, etc. Previously, most of our time was devoted to imaging development and deployment. Jamf automates that for us, allowing us to focus on things besides the tool itself.
We did not consider other MDM solutions since Jamf is the most mature and adopted on the market. Our previous offering was a piece of FOSS software called DepoyStudio. It worked well for a number of years, but was cumbersome and labor intensive. Ultimately, Apple made (appropriately) changes that rendered DeployStudio unusable going forward, so we knew that we would have to eventually adopt an MDM solution.
They are very responsive and their support team is friendly, positive, and will work towards finding a solution to your problem.

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Jamf is most definitely built for enterprise applications in which one user works on one computer. This is likely the majority of their user base, and it would appear that they have devoted considerable resources to that.

The scenario I manage is very different than this, however. I manage a central computer lab that is open 24/5 (and 24/7 during finals week) and has between 55,000 and 60,000 unique users per year. My colleague manages an equipment checkout program that is available to about the same number of individuals. As a result, we tend not to use the abilities in Jamf for updating apps and such--rather, in the case of the checkout program, the machines are wiped and re-enrolled upon return. In my case, we reimage the entire computer lab every 2 - 3 months to push out updates.

I would daresay that Jamf was not designed with these scenarios in mind, rather, they would assume that a computer belongs to a person and remains in that person's possession for an extended period of time. Reimaging requires us to remove the computer account in Jamf each time we wish to update, which is required to remove previous configuration information.

This is not to say that Jamf will not work well in a laboratory environment, but it will take some time to properly implement.