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Systems Manager – More Than Mobile

Great tools for managing Macs and PCs are built right in to Cisco Meraki’s MDM

The mobile operating systems – like iOS and Android – typically get all the attention, so it would be easy to overlook some of the cool tools available for managing an estate of Macs and PCs in Systems Manager. These tools make life easier for the IT admin responsible for auditing, monitoring and troubleshooting both mobile and desktop environments.

Beginning with the Overview screen presented after login, a simple device count shows the number of devices of each type enrolled into the MDM account, covering iOS and Android plus Mac, PC and even Chromebooks. This helps ensure that all devices in inventory are accounted for and available for management.

The simple enrolment process uses a package install file on the PC which may be deployed as part of a Group Policy from Active Directory, or installed on individual computers. For the Mac, enrolment is as easy as providing the network ID and downloading a profile, as covered in a previous blog post.

Once enrolled, some extremely useful tools become available. A simple remote desktop tool is incorporated into the dashboard, enabling the IT admin to quickly jump onto a PC or Mac to assist the owner with troubleshooting and fixing issues. As with all elements of Cisco Meraki’s cloud managed portfolio, the power of such a tool really comes into its own when managing devices at remote locations, like branch offices or teleworkers’ home offices.

A number of alerting functions are included in Systems Manager. To take a couple of examples, having enrolled devices into MDM, the admin should be alerted if management is removed for any reason. Even more useful, there will be servers or other online devices which are considered mission critical in any organization. An alert can be built around tagged devices such as servers, so that the admin is notified should any go offline.

Another deceptively simple tool facilitates a rapid inventory of installed software across all managed platforms, with the ability to install and remove copies of applications which should not be installed. This may be because they are not approved for use on company-owned devices, or perhaps because their presence takes the organization above their licensing limit for that app. An alert can be set, triggered by the installation of a certain application.

When it comes to setting restrictions, some of the capabilities available for iOS and Android are also available for the desktop operating systems. Geofencing, one of the most popular recently added features, can be used on both Macs and PCs to ensure valuable assets remain within a defined location. Beyond this, the Mac benefits from the ability to set password restrictions, deploy pre-configured WiFi or VPN credentials and trust certificates for secure client association to a verified network.

Last but not least, Systems Manager provides a convenient way to audit and report on the security status of managed devices, testing for numerous components like passcode, antivirus and firewall. A periodic report can also be scheduled and emailed to the network owner.

The report generated with these simple few options can greatly assist the IT team with maintaining security and compliance standards applicable to their install base of Macs and PCs.

As with all things Meraki, the best way to establish Systems Manager’s suitability for any organization is by trying it out, so to get started just click here.