For too long now Apple Macintosh systems have been the proverbial red-headed stepchild of DevOps. There are a lot of ways to incorporate Windows systems automatically into a larger DevOps pipeline, but Macintosh systems generally require a lot of manual intervention.
As part of a larger effort to automate application deployments across Apple systems, Fleetsmith has announced that the platform it created for automating the management of Apple systems now supports both the Puppet and Chef automation frameworks. DevOps teams looking to extend the reach of those frameworks to Apple systems can now invoke Fleetsmith to automate the deployment of Chef and Puppet like any other Macintosh application.
Of course, once Puppet or Chef are installed, IT organizations can control what gets deployed on those systems going forward. But in general, organizations that deploy Macintoshes prefer to employ tools that provide a native Macintosh experience when it comes to managing those systems, says Fleetsmith CEO Zack Blum. There are plenty of options when it comes to cross-platform management tools, but Blum notes each of the tools compromises the Apple Macintosh experience such that individuals who prefer Apple systems must manage those systems using a construct that was not primarily designed for use in, for example, a Windows environment.
Over the years, a number of developers have shown a marked preference for Apple Macintosh systems. As a result, it’s difficult to develop a coherent approach to DevOps that does not include some way to automate the management of those platforms, including the ability to deploy DevOps tools such as Puppet and Chef. Blum says that, in time, Fleetsmith plans to increase the number of Macintosh applications that can be distributed via its platform.
Naturally, Apple is too focused on the end-user experience to trifle with IT management issues. It prefers to leave those issues in the hands of partners such as Fleetsmith, JAMF Software, IBM and SAP. The other alternative is to rely on open-source software that has been created to address this same issue. But Blum says open-source alternatives are more complex than commercial software, while rival commercial approaches to provide the same level of fleet management of Apple system at scale.
Fleetsmith was developed when its founders worked at Dropbox and Fandom. Both organizations had evaluated several Mac management options before deciding to develop their own code. The company launched last fall with $3.1 million in funding.
Pricing for the service, which officially is still in beta, is $10 per month per device. The service is free for any organization with fewer than 10 Apple devices. In addition, Fleetsmith integrates with Google G-Suite to make it simple to authenticate users of the service.
Obviously, there’s more to be done in terms of pulling Apple devices into the greater DevOps ecosystem. But as a first step, making it simpler to deploy Chef and Puppet on these systems signals greater awareness of the overall issue.