Fleet would Mac? Microsoft's Azure VPN Client for Apple machines hits public preview

Azure Active Directory's tentacles wriggle into ever stranger places

A public preview of Microsoft's Azure VPN Client for macOS dropped over the weekend.

Getting native Azure Active Directory (AAD) authentication up and running has historically been tricky on a Mac. Either a lashed-together solution involving a third-party VPN along with AAD domain services or a cloud service such as JumpCloud was needed.

While accessing Active Directory is a relatively straightforward thing in the Mac world, enterprises possessed of a fleet of non-Windows devices attempting to make the leap to Azure's cloud infrastructure have a few hurdles to overcome.

Looking after a mixed fleet?

An Azure VPN Client for macOS (with the Azure VPN gateway) will make life a little easier for administrators pondering how to manage a mixed fleet. The native AAD authentication support it brings to the table means AAD user-based policies, conditional access, and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) for Mac users.

Sure, while there are a variety of ways of locking down a Mac with the likes of MFA, admins charged with managing mixed fleets under AAD will welcome an alternative to the challenges involved in getting macOS to talk to and authenticate under Microsoft's cloud platform.

That's assuming AAD stays vertical long enough, of course.

There are a few gotchas, the greatest of which is that the preview is currently limited to the US and, frankly, it being a preview means IT admins should only be testing it at this stage to see if it alleviates a pain point.

In addition, AAD authentication is only supported for the OpenVPN protocol and some tweaks to the Azure tenant might be needed.

And for the price conscious, be aware that OpenVPN is not supported on the Basic SKU.

Then again, if one has Apple macOS devices in one's fleet, price is unlikely to be too much of a consideration. ®

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