macOS Big Sur: Your quick guide to Supervision

Supervision has been a staple of iOS management, and it's now available for Mac. See what this means and how it helps.

December 8 2020 by

Evan O'Malley

With every new Apple operating system (OS) upgrade, there are always fun, new and exciting announcements involved for the IT world, and the announcement of macOS Big Sur was no exception. At WWDC 2020, Apple announced that part of this upgrade includes expanding their mobile device management (MDM) framework, which affects the core way that Jamf empowers users to manage their fleets of Mac devices. With Apple enhancing this MDM framework, Jamf can more successfully build off of the main functionalities and fill gaps to provide IT admins and end users the best possible Apple experience. So, which key features of macOS Big Sur make your management life easier?

Streamlined setup

Let’s start with easing the setup process. Whether you’re looking to provide something fully customized or wanting to strip things back to have very streamlined enrollment experience for your devices, you’re now able to make this process truly your own, depending on your preferences. You can take advantage of endpoint provisioning with Jamf to make the power-on process a customized, branded experience for your end users.

With Jamf and Auto Advance for Mac, once a device enrollment profile is assigned to a device using MDM and Apple Business Manager/Apple School Manager, simply plug in power, ethernet and power on the device. You can also preselect language and region using MDM.

User-approved MDM (UAMDM) payloads now allow organizations to operate with a deeper level of management, meaning:

  • New device enrollments are now automatically supervised with Jamf
  • User-approved MDM is automatically converted to supervision upon upgrade

App management

App management in previous macOS versions is a far cry from the experience in iOS. For instance, an app could be installed via MDM in macOS, however there is no mechanism for marking that app as managed or for uninstalling it. As of macOS 11 Big Sur, the app management experience is much more similar to what it is in iOS today. What’s new?

  • Apps can be removed by MDM commands or upon enrollment
  • iOS-style managed app configuration and feedback are supported
  • Device enrollments can convert an unmanaged app to managed

Lights Out Management

With macOS Big Sur, you can now remotely start up, shut down, or reboot a 2019 Mac Pro device or later, even if macOS is unresponsive. This is ideal for Mac Pro devices that are inaccessible or not easily accessible. As long as the device is enrolled via MDM, you can designate a controller Mac device, which receives the Lights Out Management payload and, in turn, sends these commands to the Mac device you’d like to start up, shut down or reboot.

Deferred Software Updates

macOS Big Sur will also add the ability for an MDM administrator to force macOS updates, including the reboot process. As is the case with iOS, macOS will also support OS update deferrals of major, minor and security updates for up to 90 days. This allows the updater to make changes to the system before needing to reboot while performing a software update, which significantly reduces downtime of a system while installing an update and greatly improves the overall user experience. To improve testing experiences, macOS Big Sur beta releases are also deferrable.

Stay secure

Ensuring that every device has a consistent baseline of security settings sounds simple but can be complex. With Jamf Pro and Jamf Protect, you can ensure that your devices adopt your security settings and measure them against this baseline. You can quickly identify and remediate any changes introduced during the macOS 11 Big Sur rollout. This will help you focus on security issues that actually need your attention rather than manually reapplying the screensaver timer settings… again.

That’s not all

These were only a few top features from the announcement of macOS Big Sur and enhancements to supervision capabilities that we wanted to highlight, but there’s a myriad of new possibilities available with the new OS that aren’t covered in this blog. For a more detailed explanation of some of these features, check out our video, “Deploying macOS Big Sur” to get the information and resources you need when making the switch to Apple’s newest OS.

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