In a nutshell, mobile device management (MDM) provides you with a way to control and manage macOS, iOS, and tvOS devices that you don't have physical access to, allowing you to install apps and software, control OS updates, unlock devices, and take all manner of control of devices owned by your business or educational institution.
If you're managing macOS and iOS devices you should be using some kind of MDM. It's the only way to make sure all of your Apple assets are in your control. Mosyle Business offers a cloud-based platform that allows you to get your devices managed quickly and efficiently. This includes setting password policies, remotely wiping devices or resetting passcodes, installing applications and myriad other options to customize and manage all the devices you're responsible for.
I've been working with and writing about mobile device management for several years now, starting with Apple Configurator, graduating to Apple's Profile Manager, which is a part of Apple's Server software, and eventually working with jamfPRO, which, these days, is the de facto standard in the MDM space. But it was just a week or so ago that an Apple rep I was speaking with mentioned Mosyle Business as a possible (and far less expensive at about $12/year per device) alternative to jamfNOW for managing new Apple devices we were getting at a theatre company I work with. I'd never heard of Mosyle, so I decided to take a look.
Mosyle, the company, started in 2012 as a learning management system that transitioned in 2016 to an education-focused MDM company. Last September the company released a beta version of their cloud-based software to enterprise and business customers which transitioned to a publicly available MDM system for businesses at the beginning of 2019.
- SUPER inexpensive MDM
- Full-featured MDM that's easy to use and manage
- Excellent and responsive tech support
- Occasional, minor workflow confusion
To start using Mosyle Business you'll need to create a Mosyle Business account. (If you're working in education you'll need to go to Mosyle's education site. For the purposes of this review we will only looking at Mosyle Business.) Creating an account isn't immediate, you'll need approval from Mosyle, but the approval process only takes a few minutes. When you sign up for a new account you have 30 days of full access to the account
Once approved you'll need to link your Mosyle account to Apple's Push Notification Services (APNS). A simple process that the Mosyle app walks you through as soon as you set up your account. APNS is what links Apple devices to your account so that after you enroll a device any changes you make within Mosyle will get pushed to enrolled devices.
How you get devices enrolled in Mosyle will depend largely on whether you're using Apple Business Manager (ABM), Apple School Manager (ASM), or you want to enroll devices you already own. Both Apple Business Manager and Apple School manager require that you register with and get approved by Apple. Using either of these services you can order Mac, iOS, and tvOS devices directly from Apple and have them added to Mosyle automatically. You can also manually add preexisting devices by entering information about those devices into ABM or ASM.
If you aren't using either of those services your options are still pretty simple. Mosyle lets you enroll devices using a specialized URL you create with Mosyle's web interface. Open Safari and enter the URL and your Mac or iOS device will download a Mobile Device Management profile that will add you to your Mosyle MDM.
Once devices are enrolled in Mosyle you have a number of ways to manage them. At the top of the list is Devices and Device Groups. Create Device Groups, add enrolled devices to those groups, and you can then create Management Profiles to apply to the groups you've created.
You can also add individual user accounts and enroll users in addition to enrolling devices. At present, you can manually add user accounts or import them using a CSV file, integrate with your Active Directory or Azure AD, and Moslye states that Google integration is coming soon.
Management Profiles are the power behind mobile device management. You can assign management profiles to user groups, users, device groups, and devices. Assigning profiles pushes configuration information to the devices or users you define. As long as a device is connected to the Internet, those changes are applied immediately.
Using profiles you can add information about WiFi networks, set passcode and password restrictions, change device names, install software (this requires that you're a part of Apple's Volume Purchase Program available in ABM or ASM), set Time Machine backup requirements, manage security and privacy settings, and set literally dozens of other configuration options. Once I was set up in Mosyle I was able to make setting changes in a matter of seconds with almost no effort.
The only complaint I have about Mosyle is minor and has to do with the product's workflow and my expectations of the same. Having worked with Profile Manager and JAMF, I occasionally expected configuration changes to be in places where they weren't. This may be more a matter of muscle memory on my part, but if this is your first trip down MDM lane it won't be a problem for you. If it isn't, then it's nothing a couple of hours of use won't cure.
Help and Support
Mosyle's help system is excellent. While testing I had an issue related to automatically created user accounts. I wanted to automatically create an admin and standard user account when a new Mac registered with my Mosyle account. I sent an email to Mosyle's rock-solid built-in support system. My issue was resolved within a matter of minutes.
Mosyle is a rock-solid MDM. It provides excellent management tools that are on par with every MDM you may already have heard of, including Jamf, which is pretty much the MDM standard. Easy to set up and use, Mosyle offers excellent support if you get stuck. In short, I'm impressed and I think you will be too.
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