When Apple confirmed on Wednesday that it had acquired Fleetsmith, a mobile device management provider, this seemed like a straightforward purchase, but Fleetsmith customers quickly learned that important functionality was no longer working – and many were not happy about it.
Apple System administrators complained on the morning of the announcement of the takeover on social media that the company no longer allowed them to connect to third-party applications.
“Mainly fleet smith You have managed a third-party app catalog so you can deploy Chrome or Zoom on your Macs, for example, and Fleetsmith manages security updates for those apps. This was the main reason we bought Fleetsmith, ”said a Fleetsmith customer to theinformationsuperhighway.
The customer added that the company described this functionality as the main feature in a corporate blog post:
For apps like Chrome, which are managed via the Fleetsmith catalog, all aspects of testing, packing, triage and provisioning are dealt with automatically. When an update (including security patches) is available, we quickly add it to the catalog so that our customers can force the latest version. In this case, the Chrome 78.0.3904.87 patch was updated within a few hours after the update was deleted.
As a system administrator emphasized, automated management of Chrome browser security was a big part of it, and this was also removed along with third-party app support.
As it turned out, Apple had made it clear in an email to Fleetsmith customers on the day of the transition that this feature had been discontinued. The email contained links to several help articles that should help administrators make the transition. (The email is included at the end of this article.)
The general consensus among admins I spoke to was that these articles were not particularly helpful. While describing a way to fix the problems, they said that Apple turned a highly automated experience into a highly manual one, effectively eliminating the advantage of the speed and ease of use that the update feature has.
Apple confirmed that it had replied to some help ticket requests after the changes this week, saying that it would soon restore some catalog app configurations and would work with affected customers if necessary. However, the company did not make it clear why this functionality was removed in the first place.
Fleetsmith offered some key features that appeal to Mac system administrators. For starters, they could set up new Macs automatically right away. This way, they can ship a new Mac or another Apple device. Once the employee turns it on and connects to Wi-Fi, it connects to Fleetsmith, where system administrators can track usage and updates. In addition, system administrators were able to enforce Apple security and operating system updates on corporate devices.
In addition, this could also be the case with third-party applications such as Google Chrome, Zoom or many others. When these companies released a new update, system administrators could ensure that all computers were running the latest version on all computers. This is the key functionality that has been removed this week.
It's not clear why Apple removed these features described in the email to customers, but it's likely that most of these features will not be restored, except that some catalog app configurations will be restored.
Email Fleetsmith customers on the day of acquisition with the changes:
Attempts to ask the founders of Fleetsmith for a comment were unsuccessful. Should this change, we will update the article.