Federation University Australia

Total control over Apple environment at Federation University Australia

At foundation in 2014, Federation University Australia (FedUni) had a relatively small base of Apple users, primarily at its Arts campus in Ballarat. One of the IT team coded a simple management system on their Mac Mini to keep track of those users and their devices.

As the fleet expanded, FedUni was facing multiple risks and inefficiencies. A self-administered Jamf overlay came to the rescue.

While only six years young, Federation University draws on the 150 years’ combined experience of its founding institutions as it develops as one of Australia’s most progressive regional educational hubs. Formed from the amalgamation of the University of Ballarat with the Gippsland and Berwick campuses of Monash University, FedUni now serves a diverse community of 24,000 domestic and international students.

The Challenge

As the Apple environment expanded it was becoming increasingly unreliable and unstable. Management sat on one desktop, not behind any firewalls. Plus, all knowledge resided with one person. FedUni needed a comprehensive system for ordering, deploying and managing its Apple devices.

The Benefits
  • Management capability and knowledge captured within Jamf
  • CompNow training and Jamf community building in-house management self sufficiency
  • Student and staff technology preferences supported
The Products
  • Jamf Apple environment automated administration toolset
  • CompNow Managed Services
  • CompNow Project Management
  • CompNow Bespoke Training

We’ve transformed from risk laden, adhoc processes to streamlined management of our Apple devices. As it scales with us, we now have an environment that’s fit for purpose.

Jodie Oldaker Team Leader of Onsite Support, Information Technology Services
Federation University Australia


The Challenge

Jodie Oldaker, the Team Leader of Onsite Support, Information Technology Services, at Federation University Australia, described the evolving situation: “Our Apple fleet expanded quickly, in volume and across all campuses. However all management capabilities and knowledge were still with that one person – what would happen if they left? We were facing multiple risks.”

It was foreseen that Apple, while only 20 percent of the institution’s fleet, would continue to be important to the more creative sections of the University’s staff and students. It was crucial that technology preferences could be offered & supported.

As the Apple environment became more complex, the existing management processes were becoming more unreliable & unstable, and as the number of Mac users remains relatively small, everyone in Jodie’s team had to be suitably trained and able to remotely support every campus.

“We needed the expertise to support any Apple device, any staff member and all student hubs with a corporate level management system. From MacBooks to iPhones, our student BYOD needs are diverse. We had to ensure students could access all resources, lecturers and other students to do whatever their courses required,” she said.

The Solution

To kick off the process Jodie contacted other universities in her network to understand how they were operating their Apple environments. She had worked with CompNow on other projects and so also sought advice there as to directions the University might take.

“Little did I know our CompNow contact would be able to put us straight onto their Apple experts and project management team,” Jodie says. The migration project put together by CompNow was to provide current management techniques and self-sufficiency.

“Our Director wanted CompNow to run it for us, to jump start our capabilities. They spent valuable time with us to truly understand our current and future needs – and to help us understand the available technologies so we could choose the one that best suited our fleet and our users’ needs,” she says.

CompNow also designed a training program for the IT team covering not just the Jamf toolset but all management areas through to customer servicing.

The Jamf comprehensive, enterprise level device management system for Mac environments was proposed. Its strengths being a cloud-based system with associated reliability and affordability.

“We felt comfortable with this as many of the other unis I’d spoken to were very happy with Jamf,” Jodie says.

To protect the University and its Apple users, significant background work had to be completed before any changes were made. This included a detailed technical discovery about the environment, the documentation of the existing systems, updating of networks & infrastructure, and adjustments to security and firewalls. The rollout was to be phased so the inevitable problems could be uncovered. To achieve the best from the modernised environment and build self-sustainability, CompNow devised a training program for Jodie and her team.

To build the skillsets and system knowledge of FedUni’s technicians, “CompNow guided us through the decision-making processes for purchases and configurations. And we were included in the rollout teams,” she says.

CompNow designed the base image for staff & student devices, including peripherals. Covid hit as the project was completing, so the image deployments had to be remotely tested and adjusted. Initially there was an issue with peripherals not working with Adobe, but that was quickly fixed.

Under the ongoing service agreement, CompNow completes the procurement and imaging of all staff and student Apple devices. Federation University’s IT team then use their new skillsets to manage the devices and control the environment.

“In transferring knowledge to our staff, CompNow got us to the point where we could confidently take over the running of our Apples. The move to Jamf was smooth. It’s intuitive to use – we haven’t had to ask for assistance,” she says.


The Benefits

“We began realising benefits immediately. The project removed all our disparate management practices and unified everything under Jamf,” Jodie says.

The previous management system had been unable to load all devices. In a follow up project leveraging Jamf, the team located the remaining Mac devices. “Everything purchased has been captured. With Jamf, this was a very easy process. All we had to do was write a simple task sequence. It didn’t take any time and there was no interruption to our teaching staff or senior executive team clients.”

Jamf now runs the student labs’ older devices, “they’re now working faster so we can get more life out of them,” she says.

With staff working from home throughout 2020, Jamf has also proven its worth with CompNow and the University’s team able to remotely identify and easily fix individual devices.

“The start of the 2021 teaching year went without a hitch. For the first time, all devices were up to date and ready for students to use from Day 1. We had none of the usual log on issues and functional difficulties,” she says.

The team members who completed the initial CompNow training are “empowered to use the system as we currently use it. But the next level of training, and in combination with the experiences and solutions of the global Jamf community, we’ll broaden our skillset so we can continue to manage everything in house.

“Working with the CompNow team has been highly beneficial. They have all the knowledge – they’ve clearly done this before. They knew all the tricks for us to move along quickly and calmly – the delivery of our new environment only took a few months, even with Covid.

“The device headaches have gone. Complaints and issues have disappeared. The feedback is – there is no feedback, which is what we were looking for.”

The drive to transform lives and enhance communities informs everything FedUni does. “CompNow has put us on the right track as we support our Uni’s goals. We now have a self-administered, fit for purpose Apple environment,” Jodie says.

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