Skip to main content

10 Ideas for Making Self Service a Killer App

Watch this JNUC session in its entirety.

Do you believe in magic? Today’s session presenter, Paul Cowan, shared his innovative, and dare we say “magical” ways to enhance Self Service. The University of Waikato IT team manager explained his method of implementing a remote support session for clients without a VPN – a way to control access to WiFi networks via iBeacons. It’s possible, and he explained how.

The University of Waikato converted to Casper Suite in 2013. It has nine Jamf Certified IT Specialists and a strong history with Apple products. There are 800 staff members and 10,000 students on campus. With an increasing device count and more data to store, Cowan said they began seeing slower configurations and upgrades. Additionally, many administrator-level tasks couldn’t be delegated to the user. They needed a solution. They found Self Service.

Now, all of the university’s operation system and software installation, updates, licensing and configurations are automated. And the manually maintained hardware database – gone.

But what makes it truly different for Cowan? He goes beyond the standard install. Here’s what he recommends for an enhanced installation:

  • Execute with root permissions
  • Leverage iBeacon
  • Connect to storage repositories
  • Access the Jamf binary

“There’s a lot in the jamf binary,” Cowan said. “You can use all the extra functionality in the Jamf binary just by putting buttons in Self Service to get you there.”

One of Cowan’s 10 ideas for making Self Service a killer app was his example of leveraging the Jamf binary through his custom Self Service upgrades button, which allows ends users to upgrade from OS X to macOS Sierra and automatically receive the branding and packages installed by Cowan.

Cowan also recommended adding shortcuts for frequently used or important resources. “We’ve got a bunch of videos explaining how to do things, and we want people to find them in our YouTube channel,” he said. “Our shortcuts let users click a button to instantly access all the resources they need.” Other shortcuts Cowan installs include calendars, video chat, email, the university phonebook and more.

Cowan live demoed remote support without VPN leveraging their AWS server. He opened a video chat with his support team back in New Zealand and walked through a comical scenario to demonstrate how his “Remote Support” Self Service Category tool allows end users to connect and give access to their screen through Self Service for real-time IT assistance.

And then there are iBeacons. Cowan explained that while Bluetooth Beacons are a signal to an app from a person’s device, showing that it’s arrived at a specific location, iBeacons are a subset of Bluetooth Beacons that are designed for devices to discover a geographic location and then trigger a certain action. He said, “You can add certificates for a Wi-Fi network or ensure documents loaded on a device are removed once the beacon is out of range.”

And with new Bluetooth restrictions via Configuration Policy, Cowan said security via iBeacons is now reliable. “It disables managed device cameras in sensitive areas, like meetings or locker rooms,” he explained. And because iBeacons only transmit (vs. receiving information), there aren’t any issues with privacy or location tracking.

He then dove into Jamf to show a clearer picture of iBeacons and Self Service, including how to add and configure iBeacons and how to monitor them in real-time.

In addition to iBeacons and binary customizations, Cowan also showed how to grant temporary admin controls, along with the relationship of Smart Groups and Self Service. Self Service all around has made life easier at the University, especially related to customer service. “Everyone loves it,” Cowan explained. “Our customer satisfaction metrics go up every year now.”