TweetFollow Us on Twitter

MacEnterprise: Integrating with Active Directory

Volume Number: 25
Issue Number: 04
Column Tag: MacEnterprise

MacEnterprise: Integrating with Active Directory

A look at third-party tools for leveraging your AD infrastructure

By Greg Neagle, MacEnterprise.org

Introduction

In enterprise environments, Microsoft's Active Directory is possibly the single-most common directory service. It's well suited to large companies with geographically separated locations, and scales very well to tens and even hundreds of thousands of users. In any organization that has many Windows computers, or any company that uses Exchange, it is the obvious and maybe unavoidable choice for a directory service. For these reasons and more, Active Directory is the 500-pound gorilla of directory services. Questions about integrating Mac OS X with Active Directory are among the most common questions on the MacEnterprise mailing list (http://www.macenterprise.org/mailing-list).

Given the ubiquity of Active Directory in enterprise environments, it's not surprising that Apple offers a solution for AD integration: the Active Directory plug-in for Directory Services. This plug-in has been covered well here and elsewhere: Michael Bartosh wrote an excellent article for the November 2004 issue of MacTech covering the AD plug-in that shipped with Panther. You can find it in MacTech's online archives - much of what it covers is still relevant. In October 2007, Philip Reinhart covered a few more tricks with using the AD plug-in and the dsconfigad command-line tool. And of this writing, Apple has an excellent whitepaper on integrating Mac OS X with Active Directory available here: http://images.apple.com/business/solutions/it/docs/Best_Practices_Active_Directory.pdf

Still, Apple's built-in solution does not meet every possible need you might have when integrating Macs into an existing Active Directory infrastructure. Fortunately, there are third-party tools that can be used to supplement or even replace Apple's tools. We'll look at a few in this article. While not intended to be a in-depth examination, we'll briefly touch on the main features of some of the third-party solutions.

What's missing?

Before we look at third-party tools, it makes sense to talk about some of the "missing features" from Apple's offerings. Get ready for some three-letter acronyms:

GPO

GPOs, or Group Policy Objects, are used by Active Directory administrators to help manage their Windows clients. They can be used to manage security policies, software installation, login scripts, folder redirection, and some application settings. They are similar in concept to MCX settings in managed OS X environments. Some organizations would like to be able to define GPO settings to manage Macs along with their Windows machines. Apple's AD plug-in doesn't support Active Directory GPOs.

MCX

MCX is Apple's client management framework. Out-of-the box, there is no support for MCX settings in Active Directory. Some MCX options include extending the AD schema to include MCX attributes, deploying a dual-directory infrastructure where MCX records are stored in a secondary directory, or using a third-party replacement for Apple's AD plug-in.

DFS

DFS, or Microsoft's Distributed File System (sometimes written "Dfs") is a method of making shared filesystems available via a network. This is typically used to provide fault-tolerance and/or redundancy, and to insulate users from having to know on which fileserver a given resource is located. It is roughly equivalent to automounted NFS shares where a resource can be accessed by a specific path, no matter which actual fileserver hosts it. While this is not really a function of the AD plug-in, Apple's built in SMB/CIFS client does not support Microsoft's DFS.

This is not an exhaustive list - certainly there are other features of Active Directory and Windows file services that are not supported by Apple's tools, or with which Apple's tools have difficulty.

Select Third-party tools

ADmitMac

Thursby Software has been providing tools to help Macs connect to Windows for many years. ADmitMac, currently at version 4, is a complete replacement for both Apple's AD plugin and the built-in SMB client. Some key features:

Requires no Active Directory schema changes

Supports DFS, even for home directories

Support for Active Directory shared printers

Support for MCX client management

More information is available at http://www.thursby.com/products/admitmac.html

DAVE

Another product from Thursby Software is DAVE. It implements a subset of the features in ADmitMac. It operates as a replacement for Apple's SMB client, but provides less integration with Active Directory. See http://www.thursby.com/products/dave.html to learn more.

DirectControl

DirectControl from Centrify is also an Active Directory plug-in replacement. Besides the obligatory support for Active Directory authentication, a major feature of interest is support for GPOs: Windows administrators can use standard Windows tools to define GPOs for Mac clients that can specify certain management settings for user and computers. The ability to use a single set of tools to manage users, groups, and manage computers, no matter the OS is an important one for some organizations. Centrify also offers DirectControl for Linux and UNIX, which offers the possibility of using Active Directory to authenticate and manage all your platforms. More information on the Mac product is available at http://www.centrify.com/directcontrol/mac_os_x.asp

Likewise Enterprise

Likewise Enterprise is yet another replacement for Apple's Active Directory plug-in. A unique feature of this product is the ability to store MCX data in Active Directory without extending the schema. This is similar in concept to what Centrify's DirectControl does, but with two important differences:

Administrators can not only define Group Policy Objects using the Microsoft Management Console, but they can also use Apple's Workgroup Manager application to define Mac-specific management settings

Because actual MCX data can be stored in AD, a wider range of management settings are supported.

Likewise Enterprise is also available for Linux and UNIX, again making it possible to use a single directory service for all your platforms. Additionally, Likewise offers an Active Directory management console that runs on Mac OS X and Linux. Visit http://www.likewise.com/products/likewise_enterprise/ for more information on this product.

ExtremeZ-IP

ExtremeZ-IP is a product from GroupLogic that provides Apple File Protocol services and printing services from Windows servers. Implementing ExtremeZ-IP on your Windows file servers allows Mac clients to connect via the native AFP client instead of the SMB/CIFS client. Since this is a server-based file sharing solution, it might seem odd to include it in this list of third-party tools. But GroupLogic has announced that Extreme-IP 6, due this year, will provide support for Microsoft DFS. With ExtremeZ-IP 6, Leopard (and later) clients will be able to use AFP to connect to Microsoft DFS shares. As a server-based solution, it can be used in conjunction with many of the client-based solutions mentioned above. You can find out more about ExtremeZ-IP at http://www.grouplogic.com/products/extremeZ-IP/

Active Directory Integration Cheat Sheet

To wrap things up for this overview, the table below lists the solutions mentioned in this article with a matrix of some of the features not directly supported by Apple's built-in tools. If Apple's bundled solutions for Active Directory and Windows file server integration don't meet all your needs, you have some additional options to explore!


Greg Neagle is a member of the steering committee of the Mac OS X Enterprise Project (macenterprise.org) and is a senior systems engineer at a large animation studio. Greg has been working with the Mac since 1984, and with OS X since its release. He can be reached at gregneagle@mac.com.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Artlantis Studio 5.1.2.7 - 3D rendering...
Artlantis Studio is a unique and ideal tool for performing very high resolution rendering easily and in real time. The new FastRadiosity engine now lets you compute images in radiosity-even in... Read more
MacUpdate Desktop 6.0.5 - Search and ins...
MacUpdate Desktop 6 brings seamless 1-click installs and version updates to your Mac. With a free MacUpdate account and MacUpdate Desktop 6, Mac users can now install almost any Mac app on macupdate.... Read more
BitTorrent Sync 2.0.82 - Sync files secu...
BitTorrent Sync allows you to sync unlimited files between your own devices, or share a folder with friends and family to automatically sync anything. File transfers are encrypted. Your information... Read more
Google Drive 1.20 - File backup and shar...
Google Drive is a place where you can create, share, collaborate, and keep all of your stuff. Whether you're working with a friend on a joint research project, planning a wedding with your fiancé, or... Read more
Simon 4.0.3 - Monitor changes and crashe...
Simon monitors websites and alerts you of crashes and changes. Select pages to monitor, choose your alert options, and customize your settings. Simon does the rest. Keep a watchful eye on your... Read more
Vitamin-R 2.23 - Personal productivity t...
Vitamin-R creates the optimal conditions for your brain to work at its best by structuring your work into short bursts of distraction-free, highly focused activity alternating with opportunities for... Read more
iDefrag 5.0.0 - Disk defragmentation and...
iDefrag helps defragment and optimize your disk for improved performance. Features include: Supports HFS and HFS+ (Mac OS Extended). Supports case sensitive and journaled filesystems. Supports... Read more
PCalc 4.2 - Full-featured scientific cal...
PCalc is a full-featured, scriptable scientific calculator with support for hexadecimal, octal, and binary calculations, as well as an RPN mode, programmable functions, and an extensive set of unit... Read more
FileZilla 3.10.2 - Fast and reliable FTP...
FileZilla (ported from Windows) is a fast and reliable FTP client and server with lots of useful features and an intuitive interface. Version 3.10.2: Note: Now requires a 64-bit Intel processor.... Read more
The Hit List 1.1.11 - Advanced reminder...
The Hit List manages the daily chaos of your modern life. It's easy to learn - it's as easy as making lists. And it's powerful enough to let you plan, then forget, then act when the time is right.... Read more

Protect Yourself from an Onslaught of Ca...
Surprise Attack Games has announced a Cat-astrophic new physics puzzler called Fort Meow! In the game, a young girl named Nia finds her grandfather’s journal which triggers an all mighty feline attack! Why do the cats want the journal? Who knows,... | Read more »
GDC 2015 – Jelly Reef will be Game Oven’...
GDC 2015 – Jelly Reef will be Game Oven’s Last Hurrah, and it Seems like a Good Note to Go Out on Posted by Rob Rich on March 4th, 2015 [ permalink ] It’s sad knowing that Game Oven ( | Read more »
daWindci Deluxe Review
daWindci Deluxe Review By Campbell Bird on March 4th, 2015 Our Rating: :: BLUSTERY PUZZLESUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad This updated puzzle game offers some creative gameplay and new mechanics, but still suffers from... | Read more »
Dungeon Hunter 5 Coming on March 12
Gameloft has excitedly announced that Dungeon Hunter 5 is on its way! Once again, you will adventure across the land of Valenthia exploring dungeons and fighting monsters. The game will have a new asynchronous multiplayer mode called Strongholds... | Read more »
GDC 2015 – The Sandbox 2 is Coming, and...
GDC 2015 – The Sandbox 2 is Coming, and Now it has Textures! | Read more »
Warner Bros. Interactive Announces Mort...
Mortal Kombat X, by Warner Bros. and NetherRealm Studios, will be a a free-to-play fighting/card-battle Mortal Kombat game. The game promises card collecting, multiplayer team combat, classic characters such as Scorpion, Sub-Zero and Raiden, and the... | Read more »
GDC 2015 – Piloteer is Whitaker Trebella...
GDC 2015 – Piloteer is Whitaker Trebella’s Latest Project, and it’s Definitely Something DIfferent Posted by Rob Rich on March 3rd, 2015 [ permalink ] You know | Read more »
PangoLand Review
PangoLand Review By Amy Solomon on March 3rd, 2015 Our Rating: :: COME VISIT PANGO AND FRIENDSUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad PangoLand is an open-ended world full of familiar characters, bright colors and interactive... | Read more »
Knights of Pen & Paper is Leveling U...
With the roll of a die and a critical success, Paradox Interactive has announced Knights of Pen & Paper 2! You’ll be taking your place at the table once again in this sequel to Knights of Pen & Paper +1 Edition. The game will introduce the... | Read more »
GDC 2015 – Project Highrise is an Intere...
GDC 2015 – Project Highrise is an Interesting Idea from SomaSim Posted by Rob Rich on March 3rd, 2015 [ permalink ] You might know SomaSim best from their gold rush sim, 1849< | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Mac Pros on sale for up to $279 off MSRP
Amazon has Mac Pros in stock and on sale for up to $279 off MSRP. Shipping is free: - 4-Core Mac Pro: $2725.87, $273 off MSRP (9%) - 6-Core Mac Pro: $3719.99, $279 off MSRP (7%) Read more
Sale! 13-inch Retina MacBook Pros for up to $...
B&H Photo has 13″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to $205 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 13″ 2.6GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro: $1219.99 save $80 - 13″ 2.... Read more
Another Tranche Of IBM MobileFirst For iOS Ap...
IBM has announced the next expansion phase for  its IBM MobileFirst for iOS portfolio, with a troika of new apps to address key priorities for the Banking and Financial Services, Airline and Retail... Read more
Sale! 15-inch Retina MacBook Pros for up to $...
B&H Photo has the new 2014 15″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to $250 off MSRP for a limited time. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro: $... Read more
WaterField Designs Introduces the Minimalist...
With Apple Pay gaining popularity, Android Pay coming in May 2015, and loyalty cards and receipts that can be accessed from smartphones, San Francisco’s WaterField Designs observes that it may be... Read more
Sale! 15-inch 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro for $...
 Best Buy has the 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for $1774.99 $1799.99, or $225 off MSRP. Choose free home shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Price valid for online orders... Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro (refurbished) avai...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pros available for $170 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free: - 13″ 2.5GHz... Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $100 o...
B&H Photo has the 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $999.99 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
27-inch 3.5GHz 5K iMac in stock today and on...
 B&H Photo has the 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMac in stock today and on sale for $2299 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $200 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for... Read more
Apple Launches Free Web-Based Pages and Other...
Apple’s new Web-only access to iWork productivity apps is a free level of iCloud service available to anyone, including people who don’t own or use Apple devices. The service includes access to Apple... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Retail Sales...
**Job Summary** As an Apple Solutions Consultant (ASC) you are the link between our customers and our products. Your role is to drive the Apple business in a retail Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
…Summary** As a Specialist, you help create the energy and excitement around Apple products, providing the right solutions and getting products into customers' hands. You Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
**Job Summary** The Apple Store is a retail environment like no other - uniquely focused on delivering amazing customer experiences. As an Expert, you introduce people Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Retail Sales...
**Job Summary** As an Apple Solutions Consultant (ASC) you are the link between our customers and our products. Your role is to drive the Apple business in a retail Read more
*Apple* Pay Automation Engineer - iOS System...
**Job Summary** At Apple , great ideas have a way of becoming great products, services, and customer experiences very quickly. Bring passion and dedication to your job Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.