Along with its presence here at Macworld/iWorld and MacIT this week, virtualization heavyweight Parallels has a new offering to help big businesses and other large-scale enterprises wrangle their growing (and sometimes unpredictable) Mac populations in the context of the Windows-centric management tools they already have in place. Launching today, Parallels Management is a suite of plugins and agents that allow OS X machines to be audited and managed inside Microsoft's System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) console.
The Parallels plugin delivers visibility of Macs on corporate networks, while also giving administrators the controls they are accustomed to on the Windows deployments in their environments. For OS X machines with Parallels Desktop's enterprise edition installed, those virtual machines can be controlled and locked down in compliance with the organization's overall security and IT policies, just like the hardware PCs are.
If your organization already has an investment and internal expertise on SCCM, an approach like the Parallels Management setup makes a lot of sense. Of course, if there's not an installed management platform and you have a heterogeneous OS profile or a BYOD plan for your users, platform-agnostic options like Absolute Manage (formerly LANrev) might be more fluid.
Even if you prefer to manage the Mac deployments with a platform-specific tool like JAMF's Casper Suite, that doesn't mean that SCCM admins in corporate IT must remain forever ignorant of what's going on in Mac-land. The SCCM plugin for Casper provides real-time audit data to the SCCM database from JAMF's inventory of installed Macs on the network.
Parallels Management is offered as a US$30/year/Mac subscription license, providing all the audit and management access to SCCM. The enterprise edition of Parallels Desktop, which provides single license key installs and mass deployment of VMs (and which you can deploy using JAMF's tools, if you like), is $100/year/Mac.