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Adventures in Macland... my experiences with ConfigMgr 2012 and Macs Conclusion

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by , 15th May 2013 at 01:36 PM (13036 Views)
So, At the end of my last blog entry I asked which agent is better: The Microsoft or the Parallels one? This isn't really very clear cut but lets try to answer the question.

So in the blue corner, we have the Microsoft native client. Its advantages are:

  1. Native Solution
  2. On the whole, easier to create and add applications to the ConfigMgr console
  3. A Client side GUI

Disadvantages are:
  1. Treats the Macs as mobile clients so therefore requires the use of HTTPS secured MPs and DPs
  2. Not especially stable
  3. Awkward to install the Mac-side client
  4. Takes a long time to install multiple applications
  5. It took them four full months after the release of SP1 to start supporting Mountain Lion, an operating system which has been available since July last year. Microsoft have apparently made a commitment to supporting new versions of OSX within six months. However, considering that OS X is on a yearly release cycle that doesn't really do anyone much good.
  6. No remote control client
  7. You need to repackage applications for them to be deployed

In the red corner, we have Parallels. Its advantages are:
  1. Supported Mountain Lion right off the bat and according to their developers they'll attempt to get support for new versions of OS X within thirty days
  2. Doesn't require HTTPS support inside your ConfigMgr infrastructure
  3. Easier to install the Mac-side client
  4. Has proven to be more stable
  5. Don't need to repackage applications
  6. Simpler to create settings to deploy to the clients
  7. Remote control client included

Disadvantages are:
  1. It's VERY expensive. And you buy it on a yearly subscription too.
  2. No client-side GUI. You have no idea of what's going on unless you delve into the logs. This includes whether deployments have succeeded or not.
  3. Setting up packages is more complicated and needs more trial and error.
  4. It uses legacy Packages to deploy software to the Macs rather than the new style Applications. It's possible that these won't survive into the next major ConfigMgr release.
  5. Needs its own DP and MP if you're running HTTPS
  6. Even if you're only running HTTP, you'll probably need another server to put the PMA Proxy on to.

There is one thing which the Parallels agent does which Microsoft doesn't do even for Windows clients and that is triggering a Machine Policy and Evaluation Cycle from the ConfigMgr console. Which is nice considering you can't from the client

There are certain things which both agents do as well as one another, namely inventory and operating system updates.

Neither product supports the deployment of the operating system at the moment. Maybe that will come later, who knows?

On the whole, I think that the Parallels product is better, if only because deploying software is that little bit more reliable. We made the decision to buy it (just before MS released SP1 CU1 to include ML support. Dang!) and I don't regret it. Hopefully I'll be saying the same in a years time.

Updated 15th May 2013 at 01:41 PM by Norphy



  1. Ashm's Avatar
    Nice write up, are you able to let me know the approximate cost of the Parallels agent? Thanks.
  2. Norphy's Avatar
    Ashm - YGPM
  3. -maverick-'s Avatar
    Hi Norphy,

    Are you able to PM me this info as well?
    Just to have a rough idea.


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