Power to the People: Users as Device Managers

Joseph Jenkins, a systems programmer/analyst at North Carolina State University libraries, explains how to use Self Service to employ end-users as their own device managers at JNUC 2019.

November 20 2019 by

Jonathan Locast

Joseph Jenkins, a systems programmer/analyst at North Carolina State University libraries, is passionate about demystifying IT and making difficult things simple. But not everyone sees IT as a simple prospect! He describes the IT world before Self Service as:

“IT is easy. Anyone can do IT. It’s like riding a bike… except the bike’s on fire… you’re on fire… everything is on fire… and you’re in Hell…”


Before Self Service, the process involved a user submitting a software request, IT packaging the software, and a dispatch technician installing or pushing the install. Lots of steps. Escalations, competing priorities and unhappy users.

Enter Self Service…

Self Service at NC State University Libraries

Jenkins explained what NC State University Libraries puts in users' hands. They use Self Service to:

  • Deploy software
  • Deploy software updates
  • Update inventory
  • Deploy common issue fixes

Seems fairly straightforward, right? Well, Jenkins has still had his fair share of doubters introducing obstacles he had to overcome.

His detractors insisted that Self Service wouldn't work because:

  • My software has to be pre-installed
  • The software install takes too long
  • There will be confusion if all software is not available
  • If the install fails, then users don’t have the software they need

These obstacles made him look for ways to reframe the situations and obstacles to showcase the benefits of Self Services and everything it can make happen for them. To him, Self Service empowers users to create the environment they want, allows large installs to be automated and makes all software available in Self Service. By having a smaller install base, he reasoned, you can cut costs by purchasing smaller hard drives.

Custom trigger policies

Jenkins uses custom trigger policies for all policy deployments. He needed a method of install that would work for terminal, prestage enrollment and Self Service without creating multiple install policies for the same package. By using custom trigger policies, he could scope installs for different licenses applying to different types of users and create a single Self Service policy that would serve all users.

Self Service – more than a deployment tool

In the IT world after Self Service, user enablement became easier than it had ever been before. And it had proved its value as more than a deployment tool, and has the ability to help with things like update location and nuke computer.

Update Location

  • Location update is part of device deployments for users
  • User is prompted for building, room and owner ID
  • Information is collected via Jamf Recon command and computer object is updated in the Jamf Server

Nuke Computer

  • Runs a Custom Trigger policy to wipe the device, and install the latest supported OS
  • Use of the same Custom Trigger allows a reusable command to be run in Self Service, push via Apple Remote Desktop, or call from the Terminal
  • Computer wipes, then re-enrolls in Jamf and reconfigures itself “automagically”

You can view the full script here: https://community.jamf.com/t5/-/-/td-p/177496

Empowering others and stepping back

“Our job is to make our job obsolete," says Jenkins. He's well aware of the odd looks that is gets him sometimes. But he firmly believes:

  • Embracing a Self Service-first mentality can overcome cultural challenges
  • Onsite response is giving way to service deliverables: “It’s in Self Service!”
  • User education - “It’s OK to click the Install button”

Through all of this, you enable your users to be their own device managers, helping them to control their own environments, and helping admins to focus on other duties.

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