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Apple Business Manager: the next generation of device deployment

Q: What if we were to tell you about a major announcement out of Apple's recent World Wide Development Conference (WWDC 2018) that every business and enterprise with Apple products should know about and leverage?

It's now a lot easier for Apple device management and deployment with the new Apple Business Manager program. Previously, the process of acquiring equipment, identifying it, enrolling it under management, and finally deploying it, involved multiple Apple programs. In short, it could be very confusing. Based on what we now know about Apple Business Manager, we can clearly state that Apple has made major strides with this new program. We strongly recommend this program for all Apple business and enterprise clients.

 

What It Covers

The 36 page document released by Apple Inc. earlier this year outlines the various features and implementation tools that will be included within the new Apple Business Manager. The entire list of those are as follows:

  • Enrollment
  • View activity
  • Manage Apple IDs
  • Manage locations
  • View and edit business settings
  • Work with user accounts
  • Assign and reset passcodes
  • Send codes
  • Assign roles
  • Manage devices* (Stems from Apple's D.E.P.)
  • Buy apps and books (Stems from Apple's V.P.P.)
  • Read log files

The complete Apple Business Manager beta v2.0 document outlines the details you can expect from each feature listed above, but for time's sake, here's the shortlist of how Apple's Business Manager is going to help your organization:

Device Deployment

  • As of June 7, 2018 the new Apple Business Manager will take two previous Apple programs - Apple Device Enrollment Program (D.E.P.) and Apple Volume Purchase Program (V.P.P.) - and rolls them into one central platform
  • In addition, Apple created new functionality and capabilities to add to the Apple Business Manager
  • With this program you will be able to:
    • Automatically enroll devices into a mobile device management system (MDM) via Apple Business Manager at the time of their activation
    • Manage multiple MDM servers (new)
    • Set default MDM servers based on the Apple device type: MacOS, iOS, tvOS (new)
      • For example: Businesses and Enterprise clients who use 2 different MDMs for Macintosh and iOS, apple business manager will automatically communicate with the appropriate MDM based on the device type
    • Purchase apps and books from the Apple App Store(s) and deploy them in bulk

*Aside from the Apple Business Manager news, we would like to point out one major device management announcement that was made at Apple's Developer's Conference. This finally addresses a long-requested feature.

  • Managed Software Updates
    • MDM restriction that defers over-the-air software updates
    • Default deferral period is 30 days, can be extended to 90 days
    • After deferral period, users can upgrade to earliest available release that has been verified by administrators
    • This does not allow for downgrades or rollbacks
    • Users will not receive prompt to update device, nor will it show up in the settings, based on the deferral settings of Administrator

While this is not an exhaustive breakdown on the new Apple Business Manager, it’s an overview of what's been announced thus far, with undoubtedly more to come in the near future. Whether you’re looking for Device Management or device deployment, one thing is for sure: Apple has taken a big step to enhance their previous programs and via consolidation, create an easier set of processes to administrate devices, apps, and configurations in a promising new platform.

 

*for more information check out our page on Device Management