Jamf Nation User Conference 2019: My final notes and wrap up

A closer look at Jamf Cloud, Jamf Connect updates, and overall strategy.

As you may have noticed from the blog, I spent a few days last week at the 2019 Jamf Nation User Conference, digging into all things macOS and iOS.

I wrote about what I was expecting at JNUC; and during the show I covered the product announcements and keynotes.

Today, I have a few more final notes to share. (Be sure to head back the articles that I linked above, as this one is only covering the delta, not everything.)

Jamf Cloud

I wanted to learn more about Jamf’s cloud strategy going into the show, especially since many newer Mac management vendors are touting their “born in the cloud” backgrounds.

According to Jamf, two-thirds of their customers are on Jamf Cloud, and almost all new customers use it, except in rare circumstances. You wouldn’t know this by looking at the website, though. The page for Jamf Cloud is a bit hidden; if you go to their homepage or documentation, you have to click through a couple pages to find it.

However, at the show, there were several Jamf Cloud sessions, and they’re actively promoting migration services. Migration itself actually sounds relatively straightforward—they migrate your database, and then recreate your check in URL. Users shouldn’t see any difference.

Jamf Cloud is essentially the same product as Jamf Pro, but they take care of the infrastructure and upgrades. Jamf also offers a cloud distribution service. Jamf Cloud has a 99.9% uptime SLA, and hosting options are located in the U.S. (East and West), the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Australia, and AWS GovCloud (for an additional fee of $30,000 per year). Jamf Premium Cloud is also available for $20,000 per year, which gives addition features like control over server upgrades, IP address whitelisting, a customized URL, and a separate sandbox environment.

With all these customers in the cloud, they do have plans to do some refactoring and make things more cloud-native, but of course, that’s a long process.

Security

In my keynote article, I noted that the reference customer for Jamf Protect was relatively small. I asked Jamf’s PR rep about this, and they said that Jamf Protect does have larger customers, but none happen to be public references yet. Digita Security, which became Jamf Protect, was still pretty new at the time of the acquisition, so it is early. Overall, I’m really interested to see where this will go. Jamf Protect will still be available as a freestanding product.

One of the new Jamf Protect features at JNUC was support for CIS benchmarks. We’re seeing both CIS and the concept of all types of benchmarks spread around, and it really does sound like this makes things easier.

To dig into this more, for like the 20th time this year, I’ll recommend the Mac Admins Podcast episode from JNUC, featuring the Digita Security founders

Jamf Connect

With macOS Catalina bringing Automated Device Enrollment customization, SSO extensions, and some Apple Enterprise Connect features built into the OS, I was wondering what that meant for Jamf Connect. Without diving into the details (because they’re quite complicated and would require a few more thousand words to cover properly), the main takeaway is that there are still gaps in the built-in macOS features, which Jamf Connect can fill. For example, if a user authenticates with a password during the Automatic Device Enrollment process, there’s no way for that to be passed over to macOS to set the local user account password. On top of all the macOS features, Jamf Connect is also planning a big leap into mobile, as I covered in my keynote article. 

(By the way, if you’re looking for more information on Apple Enterprise Connect, well, there isn’t actually much out there, as it used to be available only through Apple Professional services. You can find some bits of information on blogs and Reddit, though.)

Strategy

As you could guess, Jamf is 100% committed to a pure-play, Apple-centric model model. They don’t seem to be too concerned about competition from unified endpoint management vendors like VMware.

(When speaking to CEO Dean Hager, I did mention their short-lived foray into Android. That was back in 2014, before he was with Jamf. I don’t have the exact quote, but the impression that he gave was that this was a brief side track, that came about as a result of listening to analysts who said that UEM was the way of the future.)

So, with this strategy, the Microsoft partnership is as strong and as important as ever. (Microsoft’s Brad Anderson reprised his role with another keynote appearance this year.) In addition, Okta got a keynote segment, as well.

Enterprise customers and enabling device choice programs are a big focus for Jamf—in fact, these were cited as some of the reasons for acquiring Digita Security.

Jamf does have three MDM products now (Jamf Pro/Cloud, Jamf Now, and Jamf School). As these are targeted at three different market segments, there are no immediate plans for consolidation.

Wrap up

As I wrote before, the Jamf and Mac admin communities are very strong, which makes the events great to attend, too.

JNUC 2020 will be in a much warmer location, in San Diego, from September 29 to October 1.

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