How to license and leverage Apple Remote Desktop

Erik Eckel details the benefits of using Apple Remote Desktop to support Apple users and describes the licensing options available.

Apple Remote Desktop is more than just a remote access technology. Technology professionals accustomed to using Windows' Remote Desktop Connection may be surprised to learn that, in addition to providing remote connectivity to Mac systems, Apple Remote Desktop 3 also provides the ability to share files directly between computers, distribute applications, review software and hardware reports, and automate routine administrative tasks.

What Apple Remote Desktop can do

Apple's new remote desktop application enables network distribution of Apple and/or third-party patches and updates. Utilizing a dedicated Task Server, software installations and updates can be scheduled, while also tracking which systems have received deployments and updates.

Remote Spotlight functionality permits fast searches of remote Macs. Resultant hits can even be copied to the administrator system for reporting systems.

Apple Remote Desktop also supports additional reporting functionality. Administrators can use the program to develop detailed reports tracking application use, hardware specifications, and more from networked Macs. To fine tune reporting, the app can collect information from 16 software attributes and 200 hardware elements.

Since Apple Remote Desktop 3 supports some 40 prepackaged Automator routines and AppleScript commands, administrators can leverage the technology to automate common tasks. Using canned Automator actions, administrators can copy items, execute AppleScripts, specify Desktop picture and Remote Access actions, change startup disks, set time zone information, start applications, and more.

Included VNC-powered remote control capacity, administrators can leverage Apple Remote Desktop to remotely connect to user systems and troubleshoot and repair systems. Unlike Windows RDP, Apple's screen sharing technology enables connecting to one, or 20 or more screens simultaneously within a single console window.

Remote drag-and-drop, meanwhile, makes it easy to share files between systems. Transferring needed files between systems has never been easier and eliminates the need for both the local and remote machines to connect to a third system (such as an FTP server) to exchange files.

Pricing and licensing

Apple used to license its remote connectivity software by the seat. In other words, organizations used to need to purchase licenses for each Mac that could be administered remotely. Now, several options are available.

The Apple Remote Desktop app can be purchased for $79. A 10-managed systems license can be purchased for $299, while a new unlimited managed systems license is available for $499.

Time-saving feature pays for itself

Regardless which license a business selects, the time-saving features Apple Remote Desktop delivers help the optional application more than pay for itself. While other remote connectivity choices are available, including VNC programs, LogMeIn and more, Apple's additional features and functionality easily justify the investment, especially for organizations supporting multiple sites from a single centralized office.

By Erik Eckel

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...