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OS X Server Essentials 10.10: Introducing Account Management

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This excerpt from Apple Pro Training Series: OS X Server Essentials 10.10: Using and Supporting OS X Server on Yosemite discusses account management in OS X Yosemite, including level of management, managing preferences for users in a group, managing device group accounts, managing apps, delivering profiles, remotely locking or wiping a device, and which preferences can be managed.
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Reference 11.1 Introducing Account Management

OS X Lion introduced the concept of profiles that contain configurations and settings, and OS X Yosemite expands on the idea. By assigning profiles to users, user groups, devices, or groups of devices, you can more effectively control them.

With profiles, you can achieve a range of results including but not limited to the following:

  • Controlling settings on mobile devices and computers
  • Restricting resources to specific groups or individuals
  • Securing device use in key areas such as offices, classrooms, or open labs
  • Customizing the user experience
  • Providing apps and books to the users

Levels of Management

You can create settings for four types of accounts:

  • User—This usually relates to a specific person. This is the account that the person identifies herself with when logging in to the computer. A user’s short name or user ID (UID) number uniquely identifies the user on a system.
  • Group—This represents a group of users, a group of groups, or a mixture of both.
  • Device—Similar to a user account, this is the singular entity that represents a given piece of hardware. This can be either a computer or an iOS device. Device accounts are uniquely identified by their Ethernet ID (MAC address), serial number, international mobile equipment identity (IMEI), or mobile equipment identifier (MEID).
  • Device group—This represents a grouping of computers or iOS devices or both. A device group can include other device groups nested in it or a mixture of both individuals and nested groups.

Not all management levels make sense for all purposes, so when setting policy, you have to decide what is appropriate. For example, you might want to define printers by device group because a typical situation has a group of computers located geographically close to a specific printer. You may want to set virtual private network (VPN) access via a group of users such as remote salespeople. And individuals might have specific application access rights granted to them.

Each level can have a default group of settings and then custom settings. Mixing and layering profiles with conflicting settings is not recommended. The results may not be what you expected.

If a user or user group has an assigned profile and the user logs in to the user portal website to enroll an OS X computer, the profiles assigned to that user will be applied to that computer regardless of who logs in to that computer. The same applies if they have an iOS device assigned to them as a user.

Managing Preferences for Users in a Group

Although you can set up preferences individually for users with network accounts, it’s more efficient to manage preferences for the groups to which they belong. Like with individual users, group management is applied if the user enrolling the device is a member of a group that has management set for it. Groups can also be used for applying Volume Purchase Program (VPP) enrollment to a wide swath of users rather than inviting users individually.

Managing Device Group Accounts

A device group account is set up for a group of OS X computers or iOS devices that have the same preference settings and are available to the same set of users and groups. You create and modify these device groups in Profile Manager.

When you set up a device group, make sure you have already determined how the devices are identified. Use descriptions that are logical and easy to remember (for instance, the description might be the computer name). This also makes it easier to find the devices to add them to the correct device group.

You can import lists of devices into Profile Manager via a comma-separated value (CSV) file The file needs to be structured like this:

name, serial number, UDID, IMEI, MEID

Leave a field empty if you’re not using that value.

Managing Apps

Apps—both Enterprise and those purchased via VPP—can be assigned to users and groups. Only Enterprise apps can be assigned to devices and device groups. Enterprise apps are ones that are developed “in-house” by a company, typically for internal needs, and are not distributed via the App Store.

Apps purchased through VPP automatically show up in the Apps pane in Profile Manager. Enterprise apps need to be uploaded into Profile Manager.

The VPP apps will be assigned to the devices at the next push, but in-house Enterprise apps get automatically pushed.

Delivering Profiles

Once created, profiles can be delivered in a number of ways:

  • Via the user portal website—Users log in to the portal with their account credentials and are presented with the profiles assigned to them.
  • Via an email to the user—The profile is a simple text file formatted in Extensible Markup Language (XML), so it is easily transported.
  • Web link—The profile can be published on a website for users to visit and download.
  • Automatic push—The profile gets automatically pushed to the device with no user interaction (the device must be enrolled for this to work).

Automatic push relies on the Apple Push Notification service (APNs). This service is hosted by Apple and is provided to allow secure push notification to client devices. Once a server is configured to utilize APNs, client devices enrolled for management in Profile Manager check in with APNs and wait for notification signals to be sent by the Profile Manager via APNs. No data is included in the notification beyond informing the client that Profile Manager has something for it. This keeps data secure between Profile Manager and the client.

Here is the push notification process:

  1. An enrolled device makes contact with APNs and keeps a lightweight communication going between them. This happens any time the enrolled device has a network chance, as would occur when being turned on, changing networks, or switching network interfaces.
  2. The Profile Manager service contacts APNs when it needs to notify an enrolled device or group of devices of a new or changed profile. APNs has the ability to send feedback to the Profile Manager service.
  3. APNs notifies the device to get in touch with the associated Profile Manager service in which it is enrolled.
  4. The device communicates with the Profile Manager service once notified.
  5. The Profile Manager service sends the profile to the device.

A list of installed profiles is available in OS X in Profile preferences. An equivalent list is available in iOS when you tap Settings > General > Profiles.

Remotely Locking or Wiping a Device

Once enrolled, a device or group of devices can be remotely locked or wiped. In this example, a remote lock will be performed. A remote wipe can be attempted, but do it only on a device you don’t mind reconfiguring. Administrators can lock the device via Profile Manager, and users can lock it via the user portal website.

Upon requesting a lock, a confirmation pane will appear, a passcode will be requested, and the lock command will be sent. Mac computers are shut down, and an Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) passcode is set, so it needs to be entered to use the computer again. For iOS devices, the screen is locked, and the passcode is enforced.

There are two ways devices can be locked or wiped:

  • Profile Manager—Log in to the Profile Manager web app, and select the device or group of devices to be locked. In the Action (gear icon) pop-up menu, choose Lock. The content of the Action menu will vary depending on whether it is a device or device group.

    11-004.png
  • User portal—Once users log in, each device they enrolled will be displayed in the Devices pane. The lock and wipe choices are presented in each device listed.

Which Preferences Can Be Managed?

In addition to various other settings for user, group, device, and device group accounts, Profile Manager provides control over the preferences in Table 11-1. Table 11-2 describes the manageable preferences payloads for devices and device groups.

Table 11.1 Manageable Preferences Payloads for Users and Groups

Preference

OS X

iOS

Description

General

Profile distribution type, how the profile can be removed, organization, and description

Passcode

Define passcode requirements such as length, complexity, reuse, and so on

Mail

Configure email settings such as servers, account name, and so on

Exchange

Configure Exchange ActiveSync settings

LDAP

Configure connection to LDAP server

Contacts

Configure access to CardDAV server

Calendar

Configure access to CalDAV server

Network

Configure network setting on the device, including wireless and wired

VPN

Configure VPN settings: L2TP, PPTP, IPSec (Cisco), CiscoAnyConnect, Juniper SSL, F5 SSL, SonicWALL Mobile Connect, and Aruba VIA

Certificate

Allow the installation of PKCS1 and PKCS12 certificates

SCEP

Define connection to Simple Certificate Enrollment Protocol (SCEP) server

Web Clips

Display defined Web Clips as application icons

Fonts

Distribute fonts

Airplay

Define which AirPlay devices can be used

Global HTTP Proxy

Define a proxy to be used by the device

Airprint

Define settings for the device to connect to AirPrint printers

Content Filter

Define which URLs can be reached by the device

Domains

Define email domains that won’t be marked in Mail and web domains from which documents will be considered managed

Security and Privacy

Control if diagnostic and usage data gets sent to Apple; define password and lock restrictions, plus whether user can override Gatekeeper (OS X only)

Identification

Configure identification information of user

Restrictions

Define application and content restrictions (separate OS X and iOS versions)

Subscribed Calendars

Configure calendar subscriptions

APN

Configure carrier settings such as the access point name (advanced use only)

Messages

Configure connection to Jabber or AIM chat servers

AD Certificate

Specify the settings for retrieving a certificate for your computer from Active Directory

Login Items

Specify applications, items, and network mounts to launch at login

Mobility

Define mobility settings for OS X clients to allow cached credentials and portable home directories

Dock

Configure Dock behavior

Finder

Configure Finder settings

Printing

Configure printing settings and access to printers or print queues

Parental Controls

Define settings for Parental Controls such as content filtering and time limits

Accessibility

Manage Accessibility settings

Single Sign-On

Configure Kerberos settings

Custom Settings

Apply custom preferences for items not defined in other payloads; similar to applying preference manifests in WGM

Table 11.2 Manageable Preferences Payloads for Devices and Device Groups

Preference

OS X

iOS

Description

General

Profile distribution type, how the profile can be removed, organization, and description

Passcode

Define passcode requirements such as length, complexity, reuse, and so on

Fonts

Distribute fonts

Single App Mode

Define an app that will be the only one the device will open

Global HTTP Proxy

Define a proxy to be used by the device

Airprint

Define settings for the device to connect to AirPrint printers

Content Filter

Define which URLs can be reached by the device

Domains

Define email domains that won’t be marked in Mail and web domains from which documents will be considered managed

Airplay

Define which AirPlay devices can be used

Mail

Configure email settings such as servers, account name, and so on

Exchange

Configure Exchange ActiveSync settings

LDAP

Configure connection to LDAP server

Contacts

Configure access to CardDAV server

Calendar

Configure access to CalDAV server

Network

Configure network setting on the device, including wireless and wired

VPN

Configure VPN settings: L2TP, PPTP, IPSec (Cisco), CiscoAnyConnect, Juniper SSL, F5 SSL, SonicWALL Mobile Connect, and Aruba VIA

Certificate

Allow the installation of PKCS1 and PKCS12 certificates

AirPlay

Define AirPlay destination settings

SCEP

Define connection to Simple Certificate Enrollment Protocol (SCEP) server

Web Clips

Display defined Web Clips as application icons

Identification

Configure identification information of user

AD Certificate

Specify AD certificate settings

Directory

Specify OD server settings

Restrictions

Define application and content restrictions (separate OS X and iOS versions)

Subscribed Calendars

Configure calendar subscriptions

APN

Configure carrier settings such as the access point name (advanced use only)

Login Items

Specify applications, items, and network mounts to launch at login

Mobility

Define mobility settings for OS X clients to allow cached credentials and portable home directories

Dock

Configure Dock behavior

Printing

Configure printing settings and access to printers or print queues

Parental Controls

Define settings for parental controls such as content filtering and time limits

Security and Privacy

Control if diagnostic and usage data gets sent to Apple; define password and lock restrictions, FileVault, plus whether user can override Gatekeeper (OS X only)

Custom Settings

Apply custom preferences for items not defined in other payloads (similar to applying preference manifests in WGM)

Directory

Configure binding to directory services

Time Machine

Configure Time Machine preferences

Single Sign-On

Configure Kerberos settings

Login Window

Configure login window options, such as messages, appearance, access, and Login/LogoutHooks

Finder

Configure Finder settings

Software Update

Define an Apple Software Update server to be used by the computer

Accessibility

Manage Accessibility settings

Energy Saver

Define Energy Saver policy such as sleeping, timed actions, and wake settings

Xsan

Define Xsan membership

Custom Settings

Apply custom preferences for items not defined in other payloads; similar to applying preference manifests in WGM

Layering and Multiple Profiles Considerations

In previous versions of OS X management, you could create different behaviors by layering management techniques reflecting users, groups of users, devices, and groups of devices. Although Profile Manager also shows those same four management levels, you need to be careful when building profiles.

The general rule is to avoid layering profiles that manage the same preferences, but this is not a strict rule. Some profiles can be additive, and others can collide, so you need to be aware of which are which.

Multiple profiles that contain different settings for the same preferences result in undefined results. There is no order of preference applied to the multiple profiles, so you will not have a predictable outcome.

Payloads that should remain exclusive include the following:

  • AD Certificate
  • APN
  • Directory
  • General
  • Global HTTP Proxy
  • Identification
  • Restrictions
  • Security & Privacy
  • Single App Mode
  • Single Sign-On
  • Xsan

Payloads that can be combined include the following:

  • Accessibility
  • AirPlay
  • AirPrint
  • Calendar
  • Certificate
  • Contacts
  • Content Filter
  • Custom Settings
  • Dock
  • Domains
  • Energy Saver
  • Finder
  • Fonts
  • Exchange
  • LDAP
  • Login items
  • LoginWindow
  • Mail
  • Messages
  • Mobility
  • Network
  • Passcode
  • Parental Controls
  • Printing
  • SCEP
  • Software Update
  • Subscribed Calendars
  • Time Machine
  • VPN
  • Web Clips
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