An Apple ID is an account that users of any Apple device can use to access content on an iPhone, iPad, or Mac. This content includes iBooks from the iBook Store, apps from the Mac and iOS App Stores, and media from iTunes. Traditionally, each user should have their own Apple ID. This works great in home environments, and can be layered with Apple’s Family Plan in order to allow families to share content.
Work environments are a different story. One of the hardest things to deal with in Apple deployments has been how to deal with Apple IDs. Managing Apple IDs can become unwieldy depending if they decide to use Apple IDs for each user or for each device. To help with this, Apple built the ability to centrally manage some content using a Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution, such as Bushel (www.bushel.com). MDM is a service that allows users to enroll their device and then have content sent to that device from a central location. An MDM service can help you get devices set-up and then manage what users can do on those devices (e.g. you can restrict access to features you don’t want used, automatically deploy email accounts, or, if needed, wipe a device that falls outside your control). Content is then usually purchased in bulk using Apple’s Volume Purchase Program (VPP), so licenses are centrally owned and can be reclaimed if necessary.
The VPP allows organizations to buy 10 or 10,000 copies of an app, and automatically deploy that app to devices. Traditionally, each user or device required a unique Apple ID. This meant users needed to create Apple IDs, or organizations needed to create Apple IDs on their behalf. The MDM service then sent apps to devices using these Apple IDs. I have spent months working with schools and companies of all sizes on strategies for managing Apple IDs.
iOS 9 and OS X 10.11 (El Capitan) brought an entirely new way of deploying content to devices. You can now deploy an app or iBook to a device, rather than to an Apple ID meaning you can perform large deployments without having to use unique Apple IDs on each device. There might be other factors that still cause you to need to use Apple IDs, but distributing apps and books isn’t one of them. Many MDM solutions, including Bushel, have implemented this new option from Apple, greatly streamlining how devices are managed.
In order to deploy apps to devices, you’ll still need to buy those apps through the VPP. Doing so allows you to potentially get apps at a discount and provide better management over what users are able to do within those apps. For many environments, removing the need to use an Apple ID will make using Apple devices en masse so much simpler. An MDM can also remove the app from a device and allow an administrator to deploy the app to someone else (for example, if an employee who uses their own device leaves the organization).
Overall, this new feature of an MDM solution further underscores the need to manage devices centrally, no matter the size of your organization. And doing so doesn’t have to be a costly. Bushel can be used by administrators for free on up to three devices, forever, so smaller teams using company iPads, iPhones, or Macs might not even end up needing to pay for an MDM solution. As deployments grow, Bushel only costs $2 per device, per month.
Once upon a time, you needed large farms of servers to centrally manage mobile devices. These days, the solutions out there are inexpensive, if not free. If you have a growing number of Apple devices, want to be able to wipe your devices should you lose them, manage apps on devices, or manage what people can do on those devices, check out the many MDM solutions out there, including Bushel, the only one written from the ground up with small businesses in mind.
When you buy your devices, make sure they can be managed through Apple’s Device Enrollment Program (DEP). DEP allows you to ship devices to a user and have them join an MDM solution at set-up, automatically. Using an MDM solution in conjunction with Apple’s new Apple ID-free deployment options, VPP, and a DEP account provides you with the most zero-touch solution available, while being as secure as possible. And when you can give a user a device that’s still shrink-wrapped from Apple that they can set up themselves, you’ve just slashed IT costs and made sure your devices meet company requirements, all while providing users with a personal experience similar to the unbeatable Apple Retail experience. Your employees and coworkers will thank you.