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Changes to MCS Macintosh provisioning

last modified Feb 26, 2021 02:26 PM
We're making changes to how Managed Cluster Service (MCS) Macs are provisioned to bring device management into line with Apple device best practices. As a result, some manual interactions will be required because certain stages can't be automated.

We've updated the provisioning instructions for MCS site staff to include these manual steps. You'll be able to upgrade your Macs to macOS Mojave from Wednesday 4 September onwards.

If you have any queries or feedback about these changes, please contact .

For those interested in why we have made these changes, read on.

Technical details

The first change concerns installing the operating system. In previous years, the MCS Macintosh service used Netboot functionality to restore an image or, more recently, install macOS to the target disk. This worked well, but much modern Apple hardware does not support Netboot and Apple has discouraged its use for several years. We'll now be using the Recovery environment to install macOS.

The second change is to utilise Apple's Device Enrolment (DE) to enrol MCS Macintosh computers into Device Management. This is now the expected method of enrolling and enables the full suite of management tasks. Devices that are enrolled into Device Management though other methods have a reduced set of management capabilities.

These changes mean that manual interactions will be required to upgrade MCS Macs because DE cannot be automated. This is a limitation of the system, and we have fed back to Apple that this is a regressive step. However, using DE is best practice and the expected direction of travel.

As a precursor, we've been working with higher education resellers to add MCS Macs into the University Device Enrolment pool. For various reasons (such as ineligible hardware vendors or missing paperwork), not all MCS Macs have been added. For academic year 19/20, non-pool Macs will be eligible, but from June 2020, it will be a requirement that all hardware is DE-compatible. We'll let sites know which Macs are incompatible in the near future.

We've worked to make the provisioning procedure for both DE-compatible and non-compatible Macs as close as possible to simplify things for site staff.

We also have further information on the Apple Enterprise Programmes and how they work in Cambridge.

Any queries?

If you have any queries or feedback about these changes, please contac t.

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