Jamf Blog

Simplifying Complex Management Infrastructures

In today's JNUC session, Andrew Seago explained how to simplify the complex using Casper Suite tools and walked through a once complex environment with dozens of locations, a fleet of Mac Mini servers, and numerous extension attributes. 

In large or small scale deployments, management infrastructures are comprised of a lot of moving parts. For example, you could have your:

  • JAMF Software Server (JSS)
  • Distribution points
  • Update servers
  • Caching servers
  • NetBoot

In today's JAMF Nation User Conference (JNUC) session, Andrew Seago—President of Macbrained, with a day job as a Senior Systems Management Engineer—explained how to simplify the complex using Casper Suite tools. He walked us through a formerly complex, worldwide deployment consisting of dozens of locations, a fleet of Mac Mini servers, and extension attributes to obtain useful information and automate remediation, and explained how to simplify the process. 

Managing the Casper Suite with the Casper Suite
With 36 Mac Mini servers worldwide, Seago said he didn’t have a monitoring, inventory, or deployment mechanism. So he thought, “why not manage Casper with Casper.” 

He knew that he could because his infrastructure was mostly Mac, their IT operations already knew the Casper Suite, they had vendor support, there would be little to no additional licensing cost, he had a robust API, and this was all capable within a single dashboard. 

One or more JAMF Software Servers
He asked himself if he should use the production JSS to do this? "One JSS to rule them all is not always the best,” he said. 

He chose to use a separate JSS instance because it would have unique EXTA’s, unique policies (ones that would deploy to servers), unique packages, and different admins. 

This gave him the freedom to "go through and create extension attributes for the entire process of getting this started.” Every time he had a question about his environment and servers, he wrote an extension attribute for it.

Simplifying the workflow
The "super powerful" thing behind this, is the concept of deploying and automating the deployment of these distribution points with a simple workflow.

Seago said it was as simple as getting a Mac Mini off the shelf, enrolling it into the system, setting up extension attributes, and running the policy in Self Service. Voila! You now have a JDS. 

He left the audience with several resources to help them with their admin tasks:

JAMF Nation: https://jamfnation.jamfsoftware.com/index.html
Macbrained: https://macbrained.org
GitHub: https://github.com
cocoaDialog: http://mstratman.github.com/cocoadialog/
Krypted: http://krypted.com
Der Flounder: http://derflounder.wordpress.com
Rich Trouton’s GitHub: https://github.com/rtrouton
MacMeetups: http://www.macmeetups.com/
MacAdmins Slack: http://macadmins.org

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