10 Observations on my first Jamf Nation User Conference - JNUC 2018

The Device Enrollment Program is heavily used, and most customers are happy to head into the future. However, there’s still plenty of space for Apple itself to work in a more enterprise-friendly way.

Last week, I attended my first ever Jamf Nation User Conference (JNUC), in Minneapolis, Minnesota. You can read my summary of the JNUC 2018 keynotes and announcements; for today, I’m going to share my observations.

  1. For macOS, everyone agrees that imaging is dead, and most JNUC attendees were excited or at least okay with the MDM transition. Sure, Apple is forcing these changes, but management vendors like Jamf still have lots of ways to combine traditional and MDM-based management.
  2. DEP is huge. (Or really, I should say “automated MDM enrollment” is huge. As discussed on our iOS 12 podcast, Apple is moving away from the term, and Jamf employees had to put a dollar in a swear jar every time they said DEP.) Anyway, almost all attendees seem to be using it for corporate-deployed use cases, which really is a no-brainer. There was plenty of talk about how to optimize and tune enrollment, as well.
  3. There are a lot of different ways to handle user identities and accounts on Macs, but the consensus is that binding Macs to Active Directory is a pain and on its way out. Instead, Jamf Connect, based on Jamf’s acquisition of NoMAD, was the star of the show, and in the keynote, Jamf and Microsoft announced that Jamf Connect will support Azure Active Directory for authentication. (Watch out for a full article on this in the next week.)
  4. A big complaint is that Apple still isn’t as enterprise-friendly as it could be. Apple doesn’t always document management changes very well, leaving vendors and users to reverse engineer new features. (Not to mention that Apple Business Manager doesn’t support SAML.)
  5. Having to reverse engineer features contributes to the sense of community. Combine that with the fact that Mac administrators are often the outliers in Windows-centric IT departments—so when you get all the Mac IT folks together, there’s a strong sense of community.
  6. You can put Mac shops into two broad categories these days: First, there are schools, universities, born-in-the-cloud companies, design firms, and other organizations that have been managing Macs for years. The majority of attendees at JNUC seemed to be in this group. Second, you have the traditional enterprises (of all sizes) that have been Windows-centric for years. Some of these are coming around to employee-choice and Macs, but of course, they often have a different set of issues to address. For this group, JNUC showed off case studies from IBM and SAP, and there were a few sessions dedicated to implementing employee choice. However, I got the impression that this group was the minority at JNUC.
  7. Most of the sessions and conversations at JNUC were about corporate-liable devices. For BYOD iPhones, Jamf recommends MDM enrollment; however, they don’t address use cases for unenrolled devices at all. In the enterprise mobility world, there are plenty of cases that call for unenrolled devices, as well as cases where you might say no to BYOD and do COPE or COBO, but this is a reminder of Jamf’s focus on doing things exactly the Apple way. (Sidenote: this also points to the ways that iOS MDM should evolve to get better for BYOD.)
  8. On a related note, by definition, Jamf customers are interested in pure-play vendors rather than a unified endpoint management strategy using the same platform for every single device. Again, it’s another reminder of Jamf’s focus, and most importantly, their impressive growth numbers show that it’s a good strategy.
  9. Microsoft had a significant presence at the show: A year ago they announced their big partnership with Jamf; there was the previous-mentioned Jamf Connect integration with Azure AD; and product managers from Office and Outlook for Mac gave a well-received presentation. It’s safe to assume that the relationship will keep getting closer. (Maybe in a year we’ll even hear them talk about Intune MAM-only mode for iOS devices that can’t be enrolled.)
  10. Overall, the Jamf conference and community were really great. There were about 2,000 people there, but it felt like a smaller community show, in all the good ways. Jamf CEO Dean Hager was accessible to everyone, and all the attendees were engaged and excited to be there. I learned a lot and met a lot of cool people, and I’m very glad that I went.

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