Simplify Your Network Organization and Sites

Sar Haidar discussed how MIT uses the Casper Suite to automate software distribution and keep tabs on their deployed machines on campus. 

October 23 2014 by

JAMF Nation User Conference 2014 - Journey of Providing Casper Suite as a Service

A lively crowd filled the Wurtele stage on JNUC’s final morning as another cool Minnesota music selection set the mood. And setting the stage was MIT’s Sar Haidar. A quick show of hands revealed about half the audience works in higher education, like Sar. Given the nature of higher education, many nodded their heads at the attraction to establishing Sites because of the distributed environment.  Sar likened it to the federal and state government model; some tasks are best done federally, others better at the state level.

Years ago Sar recognized he could not give various departments and colleges around MIT (his “states”) access to the entire Casper Suite.  “So we told JAMF we needed this and they really stepped up and said ‘hey here’ s version 9’,” he said.

Sar shared how they were incredibly excited to receive the new version of the Casper Suite, because they knew they had some fun challenges to solve. When they deployed machines all over campus, they needed to figure out who they belonged to. Easier said than done at MIT. “My first idea was to use extension attributes,” he said. “But they still meant we had to manually populate the user and location.” Then he elected to use personal certificates and employed Python and Casper APIs to make it happen. So he got all the computers associated with the right Site. Check.

Sar’s next goal was to automate software distribution. “I wanted to find out about new software, download it, upload to Casper Admin for the many distribution points, create or modify the policy, deploy and test – rinse and repeat,” he said. To automate this, Sar created what he calls the Casper Automated Package Deployment for increased efficiency.

Sar closed by addressing what he sees as an exciting time in IT. “I think the paradigm is slowly shifting,” he said. “We need to go back to our environments and revisit those tasks, workflows and figure out how to automate and integrate…It’s not about device management or user management any more. Our role is now curating that user experience…seamlessly integrating…to talk to Amy in HR and figure out how to let her do her job…know her needs before she even needs it.” 

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