Mar 13 2024

What Is Jamf? Supporting Apple Device Management in Higher Ed

Managing iOS devices through Jamf gives college and university IT teams visibility and enhanced security.

Editor’s note: Jamf is a device management solution for Apple iOS devices. For PC devices, check out our article on Windows Autopilot.

In higher education, everyone needs a computer. Students, researchers, faculty and staff all need at least one device — and sometimes multiple devices — to get their work done.

With thousands of devices on campus, IT teams may find themselves struggling to keep up. To ensure a positive user experience, they need to configure and deploy devices, ensure security and support seamless access to university resources.

As a manual effort, this is tedious and time-consuming. In the Apple ecosystem, a device management platform like Jamf can automate these tasks.

The Stanford University IT team, for example, reports that Jamf allows it to “manage and secure Apple devices in a way that meets the needs of modern and mobile users — to address IT problems, improve security and configure devices on the backend so that you can work with minimal to no interruptions.”

Click the banner below to learn how to optimize device management in higher education.


How Does Jamf Work?

In support of device lifecycle needs, Jamf enables IT teams to provision devices for zero-touch deployment. Its self-service capabilities empower users to load their own apps without getting help from IT.

On the security side, the platform simplifies IT efforts to manage settings and configurations, restrict malicious software and patch devices across a broad user base.

In higher education, such centralized control gives IT teams “the ability to have device deployment management in the initial setup — getting the device to the person without them having to make 10 different stops,” says Suraj Mohandas, Jamf’s vice president of product strategy.

“The alternative would be for every device that needs to go to a user in higher ed to take the scenic route through an IT desk and have staff configure it manually,” he says. “With centralized control you can make sure that the device is set up for that end user, perfectly.”

Which Jamf Features Are Most Important for Higher Ed?

Several of Jamf’s features are especially useful in a college or university environment.

The ability to automate tasks is key. “That could be something as simple as software updates, inventory management or configuration changes,” Mohandas says. “All of that frees up the IT team to focus on more strategic initiatives.”

In a university setting, where different user groups need access to a wide range of applications, Jamf’s self-service provisioning eases the strain on IT teams. It enables users to “install approved software from a preapproved list, empowering members of the user community to do it themselves,” versus always needing IT involvement, Mohandas says.

In support of higher education’s significant compliance obligations, automated security processes help ease the pressure. “Locking and wiping lost devices, securing data, making sure it meets the regulatory standards — a lot of that would be painstaking to do if you didn't have a management framework,” he says.

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How to Get Started with Jamf

To get Jamf up and running, it makes sense to do some work on the back end to ensure organizational readiness.

First, build a strategy. “Are you trying to do more one-to-one? Are you trying to set up a computer lab?” Mohandas says. This will help inform how you use the management tool. “If you're setting up a computer lab, for example, you might have them authenticate differently versus a one-to-one deployment.”

It also helps to begin with a limited use of the platform so IT professionals can get used to how it works. “Start with a pilot program. Test out Jamf in a controlled environment before you go to full-scale deployment,” Mohandas says. “That ends up being a great way to see the power of device management in general and what Jamf as a platform can do for you.”

After deploying the pilot program, Jamf training for any impacted parties will be vital for proof of impact.

Suraj Mohandas
With centralized control, you can make sure that the device is perfectly set up for that end user.”

Suraj Mohandas Vice President of Product Strategy, Jamf


How to Optimize Jamf for Higher Education

In higher education, different users have different needs. By fine-tuning the platform, it’s possible to drive maximum impact on campus.

IT can, for example, optimize access control. “We have a suite of tools for identity and security, including a tool called Jamf Connect that ensures you're setting up the user with a single set of cloud identity credentials,” Mohandas says. “It automatically configures these settings at the time of device setup.”

The tech team can also optimize workflows to respond to the needs of specific user groups.

“With a customized workflow for a visual arts or design user, for example, you could ensure they get a certain Adobe package along with their lab computers or their personal computers,” he says. In higher education, “those customized workflows can save oodles of time.”

With a device management platform, technology teams can deploy, secure and maintain devices more effectively. This helps drive an improved end-user experience and frees up IT teams to focus their efforts on adding value to the university mission.

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