Delivering Device Management and Security to “Anywhere Learners” in Higher Education
East Carolina University
Greenville, North Carolina
Adopting and evolving Apple initiatives
The landscape of mobile device management (MDM) is in different places across various industries. Some industries and organizations were early adopters of MDM and have been reaping the benefits for a while. Others are beginning their journey into MDM and learning about inventory management, app deployment, profiles and more. Regardless of where organizations are in their journey, many now see the value and are looking to leverage device, app and setting management to enhance the user experience and further protect users, networks and devices.
For the East Carolina University (ECU) School of Dental Medicine, and Systems Support Manager Brooks Person, MDM has been a staple of their all-Apple ecosystem. As early adopters, they have expanded well beyond the basics of device management and into security to ensure their Apple investment is well taken care of on or off campus.
An Apple Distinguished School
With roughly 900 Mac, 550 iOS devices and a smattering of Apple TVs, ECU stands proudly as a school that has made the choice to partner with Apple for the betterment of their school, faculty and student body.
Per ECU’s site, “Every student and faculty member in our dental school uses Apple MacBook Pro, iPad Pro and iPhone as an integral part of their educational experience. It is important to understand that, while we use these tools to optimize our program, what we value most about the relationship with Apple is the ‘Apple ethos.’ Apple stands for relentless progress, dissatisfaction with the status quo, and constant striving for perfection. The East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine tries, every day, to meet the challenge that the Apple Distinguished School represents.”
Being recognized as an Apple Distinguished School is not something ECU takes lightly. It was a process they spent years striving to achieve, demonstrate and maintain through projects that leverage technology to drastically improve application processes, the instruction of students, the collaboration of faculty, and the clinical care of patients.
These Apple devices aren’t just used in a closed, campus ecosystem, they are being relied upon off campus and even in rural areas where ECU’s senior dental students get working experience in underserved communities. To provide both topnotch care for these patients and a real-life working experience, ECU, Jamf and Apple came together to provide a comprehensive and reliable user experience while helping maintain HIPAA and FERPA compliance.
Apple and Jamf at ECU School of Dental Medicine
Brooks Person has worn many hats in his career and carried many titles, but when he was brought over from main campus IT to East Carolina University’s School of Dental Medicine, all faculty, students and staff used Apple. At that time, devices were being managed by Jamf’s Casper Suite, later rebranded to Jamf Pro.
With Person’s expertise in Apple support for the school, he was given a role that saw him interact with Jamf’s MDM and provide a unified management point for all their technology. In his most simplistic words, Jamf allows him to “automate all of their deployments, setups and it manages each device.”
An outcome that may seem basic but becomes complicated as each student arrives on campus. They are given their own Apple “bundle” — a MacBook and an iPad — that is reliant on ECU for arming them with the tools they need for success. Students are strongly urged to complete this ecosystem with an iPhone, all of which is managed with Jamf Pro. In addition to each student, faculty devices are also enrolled, managed and secured with the apps and software they need to educate.
In order to have these quantities of devices operate smoothy, with as little manual IT intervention as possible, Person leverages Jamf to automate the deployment of their policies and packages, configuration profiles, operating system updates and machine security. Amongst other things, this helps ensure all usage is compliant with HIPAA and FERPA and makes it easy for IT to decipher between student machines, faculty devices or devices that stay on campus. The reason being, of course, that faculty devices need a different setup on their device than that of a student.
The use cases for these Apple devices expands well beyond the borders of campus. Students travel for their work experience in clinics, the different apps and software required each semester change, and the need for heightened security increases. HIPAA and FERPA are always mandated and that means ECU and students need security measures and policies in place to ensure compliance is achieved. As their previous security provider was going away, Person was left with a hole that needed to be addressed and addressed properly.
With Self Service, I just say ‘hey, if you need anything just open that little app and you have everything right there you need for your device.
Apple security built for Apple devices
When Person attended Jamf’s annual Jamf Nation User Conference he was introduced to Jamf Protect and immediately saw that it was the security tools he was looking for to address student machines being used in clinical settings. With a fear that students would look for their own security solution, he wanted ECU to be able to ensure everyone that their device was being taken care of and protected. As an Apple Distinguished School, all-Apple campus and an avid user of Jamf for mobile device management, explaining the benefits of Jamf Protect to his director was easy.
Jamf Protect was built for Apple, it communicated with Jamf Pro seamlessly, and allowed Person to manage with the knowledge that these two Jamf solutions worked seamlessly together. With lots of healthcare scares surrounding ransomware and a clear emphasis in the industry to leverage top-notch security to protect patient information, Jamf Protect seemed the obvious choice. According to Person, it has been everything he thought it would and more.
With 215 licenses for their student devices, Jamf Protect has made it possible for ECU to find existing threats on computers that neither school, nor students are aware of on the devices. Jamf Protect finds intruding DMG files that a simple script then seeks out and deletes. Out of date software that users are trying to run gets flagged. Software that wasn’t signed gets flagged and dealt with, and because Person is using both Jamf Pro and Jamf Protect, he can use Jamf’s Self Service tool to have users run the programs they need and remedy the situation all without needing to interact with IT.
Given these devices are used to access electronic health records, Jamf Protect allows ECU to audit these devices and track who is accessing the computer and any malicious activities. Using the Center for Internet Security Benchmarks to guide their best practices, ECU’s School of Dental Medicine has put in place a way to detect threats, monitor activity with minimal user interference and remediate issues to put devices back into a trusted state.
A community served
The ECU School of Dental Medicine calls every region of North Carolina home as they prepare students for a career in serving their communities. With eight state-wide community service learning centers (CSLCs) in rural and underserved communities, students have treated nearly 68,000 patients across North Carolina and have provided an economic impact of well over $1 million in its respective community.
Fourth-year students complete 27 weeks of intensive clinical experience in a real delivery-system setting at the CSLCs and clinics, and ECU School of Dental Medicine’s IT team is there to support them at every point in the journey.
“I think it’s always a great experience,” says Person. “There’s a lot of people that come in for the first time and you know they are first-time Apple users, and I can honestly say, ‘hey, it’s a slight learning curve, but once you understand how to use this, you won’t want to switch back.’”
The comfort and confidence in that statement comes from not only his own experience with Apple devices but his knowledge that he and his team will always be able to make sure a user feels supported during that learning period, and beyond. “With Self Service, I just say ‘hey, if you need anything just open that little app and you have everything right there you need for your device.’
Whether users are on campus, in the classroom or at their clinic sites, Jamf is working to bring a reliable and seamless user experience in an unintrusive manner. Person and ECU have lofty future goals for continuing to develop and achieve a unique, fantastic learning and working experience for all users while making the lives of IT easier and more efficient. Their partnership with Apple and Jamf continues to develop right alongside them.