Because dataJAR, Part Deux


Wow, it’s mid-September & this is my 1st post of the year!

Below is some reasons as to why no posts & what I’ve been up to.

Old dog, new tricks

Having spent 14 years or so as in-house IT, moving to work in a more MSP/Consultant capacity at dataJAR has required I learn some new skills.

Same old, brand new

In regards to new technical skills, software titles like the below are things I might have dabbled in before but now have had to learn (to varying degrees):

  • AutoPkg(r)
  • Munki
  • DeployStudio
  • Packages
  • Suspicious Package (the art of deciphering the madness that some folks employ)
  • Imagr
  • GroundControl
  • Foldr
  • CrashPlan
  • JumpCloud
  • JamfNow

As I have been learning the above, there is not “bloggable” material as I’ve been learning from either what James has taught me or I have been reading many a GitHub wiki or blog post & asking questions in various channels on the Slack.

So thank you, all!

Square peg, round hole

Whilst some customer requirements follow a well trodden path, others require a different approach.

Same can be said when looking for solutions as an MSP, not many folks host 100+ Jamf Pro instances like we do at dataJAR.

Earlier this year we moved all our customer instances from multi-context setups to a Kubernetes deployment. To make things more interesting, we have a private cloud which is hosted & part managed by Cloud Helix.

Now, as far as we know, we’re the only folks in the world offering a commercial Jamf MSP solution on Kubernetes (if i’m wrong, please reach out to me.. I’d love to talk!).

We also host our own CDN, so lots of lessons being learned here.

All in all, this has lead us to creating several bespoke solutions.

Some of which pertain to our hosting infrastructure, other items (like jamJAR), have come about due to bringing efficiencies to our workflows.

Some, again like jamJAR, make sense to be offered as a FOSS. Others like envQUERY (a flask based app currently deployed to heroku which users JWT’s to point clients to their local munki repo) are a little bespoke.

So, on top of the more traditional Apple Admin skills listed above, the below I have also picked up (again to varying degrees):

  • Ubuntu
  • CoreOS
  • Apache
  • Kubernetes
  • Flask
  • Heroku
  • Datadog
  • Twilio
  • Google Suite (yes, yes.. not had the pleasure before joining dataJAR)
  • JSON Web Tokens

Most of the above solutions will not work as we need out-of-the-box, & so need some bespoke customisation to work in the manner that we do or they will facilitate certain workflows that we employ.

These can sometimes then be distilled into internal projects, such as those listed below (these are intentionally obtuse for now).

I have been involved in part in all, some as the main dev & others just sticking my oar in:

  • Auto-Update Framework
  • envQUERY
  • dotmobi-tools
  • warden
  • YAPS
  • dotmobi Switcher
  • Management

These are all items that supplement workflows that we employ, &/or are to overcome some shortcomings in various areas of the tools we employ to deliver said workflows.

An apple for the teacher

I have also become a Jamf Integrator, which means poor sods get to hear me whittle on about Jamf Pro from 4 hours to 3 whole days.

Delivering training is not something I have done in quite this manner before (I have delivered internal training), it’s quite a skill & certainly something which with every JumpStart I will learn more of.

Yes boss, no boss!

Another new challenge, is that I became Technical Director at dataJAR (go me!). So I now have a proper vested interest in the company I am a part of.

Whereas, previously I was an employee or a contractor only.

As Technical Director, not only do I have the usual Director responsibilities but I also now have some direct reports!

Luckily, as my team consists of Richard Mallion & Darren Wallace, it’s easy.

(We also just genuinely have a great group of folks across the organisation, which makes working with them all a pleasure).


With all the above, moving to dataJAR & becoming Technical Director means that I have had to changes certain aspects

Un-Social Media

One of the more understandable changes (I hope), is that I have gone from being a customer to a partner with a few vendors.

As a customer, you can voice displeasure/give feedback about a particular aspect of a vendors solution/product etc.

As a partner, the same vendors might take a dim view of such public voicing. So any displeasure/feedback needs to be voiced via the appropriate private channels


Similarly, if someone threatens legal action. It is prudent to keep shtum.

Name above the door

If you feel a little annoyed about the above, don’t be.

It’s part of the game, & something I am having to learn as I progress through my career. I’m sure we have all been there.

I just need to be more mindful with Social Media, but in a bar with a beer…

Back to the future

So what’s next?

Well, I have posts regarding the talks I was involved in at to blog still, & some other items.

AutoCasperNBI & AutoImagrNBI need a wee Mojave update (even if just for dark mode).

I am also speaking at next month & it’s an honour to be asked, (I hope I deliver as expected).

Also, I will not be at JNUC this year as it’s too close to & whilst I’d love to talk some about the above mentioned projects & MSP challenges.. we’re not at a point yet where we can talk about those. Hopefully next year!

See you soon.

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