iPad Deployment Foundations
This article has been put together to try and give a head start to businesses and schools deploying iPad. It should provide essential information for organisations just starting out, but also those who have already deployed a small number of devices but are finding the management of apps, documents and settings on those devices hard work.
In this short article we will cover the fundamental technologies and programmes which should underpin an iPad deployment of any size in enterprise or education.
The model above shows the solid foundations that should underpin an iPad deployment. If each aspect is considered and addressed appropriately to the potential size of your final deployment they should result in an infrastructure, management solution and workflow which will scale with minimum effort.
The three items within the yellow triangle are perhaps the most important aspects which we will expand upon later, but first let’s briefly address the others
Analyse your existing wireless infrastructure and consider how it might cope with tight clusters of mobile devices. Remember that tablet devices like iPad have much lower powered WiFi hardware than computers so may not perform as well in low signal areas.
Use enterprise-class solutions, and design for capacity to cope with the density of devices. Coverage is important but doesn’t indicate that your network will perform as desired with a room full of mobile devices.
iPad and other associated Apple tools require outbound internet access ports other than 80 and 443 (HTTP and HTTPS). Your firewall should be setup to cope with this.
In addition to firewall consideration you should be sure that existing filtering solutions aren’t going to block essential service required for contacting Apple’s servers or your chosen management solution. Check out our great article ‘Preparing for Apple Devices’ to get more detail about firewall and filtering requirements
When installing apps on iPad via our managed service we would normally prefer the device assigned method which removes the need for an Apple ID just to install apps, but there are still services that do require a unique Apple ID per device.
Thankfully we now have the option to create Managed Apple ID’s owned by the school. These are created via Apple School Manager or Business Manager (more to come on that later), either manually, via a CSV upload or using a full integration with an existing information system in your organisation.
Best practice for the creation of unmanaged Apple ID’s is published by Apple.
In short this is how to deliver assignments to users and receive completed work back. In education this is of particular interest so that teaching staff have a clearly defined workflow when distributing the curriculum to students and assessing completed work.
Exactly how the distribution of work (iTunes U for example) and collection of work for assessment (Showbie for example) will function in your particular environment is key to the success of devices in schools. KRCS have a wealth of experience in this area and will be happy to offer advise on the variety of solutions that we feel would best to manage this in your school or business.
The iPad Magic Triangle
Wifi, web security, Apple ID’s and document management are four of the key building blocks which make up the supporting infrastructure for a successful iPad deployment, but at the core of these foundations are what we refer to as the ‘iPad Magic Triangle’. It’s built from two key Apple deployment programmes and a mobile device management (MDM) solution. Integrating with each other these solutions combine to give a streamlined rollout of devices and ongoing management.
Device Assignment (formerly known as DEP - Device Enrolment Programme)
Device Assignment is available to business and educational establishments. To sign up for free simply go to school.apple.com or business.apple.com and enrol your institution for free. For more detailed information about Device Assignment please visit this page dedicated to it, but in short it dramatically streamlines the initial handout of devices.
Once serial numbers have been registered against your account Apple instruct a device whether or not it should be managed by an MDM when it’s activated from a new or erased state, and importantly this management step cannot be skipped or removed by the end user.
Device Assignment does nothing more that that. A common misconception is that it also manages settings and apps on your device but it does not. You need the MDM part of the iPad magic triangle to work in conjunction with Device Assignment to do that.
Apps and Books (formerly known as VPP - Volume Purchase Programme)
The second part of Apple’s deployment programmes available via school.apple.com or business.apple.com. The Apps and Books store works in conjunction with an MDM platform to streamline app deployment.
Within Apple School / Business Manager this is presented as an iTunes style store for the bulk purchase of apps. You buy managed licenses (for free or chargeable apps) which can be issued to one iPad, then revoked and sent out to another at a later date if required. Different locations can also be setup so that chargeable app licenses can be shared across different schools in a trust or departments in a business.
And VPP does nothing more than that. It doesn’t do anything to install apps on devices, but once you’ve purchased managed licenses in VPP you can start pushing them out to your devices using the final part of the iPad magic triangle, the MDM
MDM - Mobile Device Management
Once an optional part of an iPad deployment, now essential. Device Assignment and the Apps and Books store cannot be used without an MDM.
Enrolling a device with an MDM creates a trusted relationship between the device and the MDM server, allowing settings and apps to be deployed to the device without further user interaction.
In relation to Device Assignment, the MDM is where Apple’s servers send an enrolled device during activation. A typical enrolment profile on an MDM is shown below. Once a device has been sent to the MDM this example will supervise the device and enrol in to ongoing management by our MDM. We can also disallow the removal of that ongoing management by the user and skip certain steps of the activation process on screen.
The MDM is also aware of app licenses purchased in the organisations Apps and Books account, so a predefined load-set of apps can be assigned to the device for automatic installation.
It’s a fairly safe bet that users won’t get the best experience if these fundamental building blocks aren’t addressed well before rollout.
In a well planned and executed deployment your users should be able to tear the shrink wrap off an iPad box which has never been touched by the IT department and enjoy all of the benefits of a preconfigured device with the apps that they need. Days of effort saved for IT technicians, and motivated users who don’t feel like they’re being issued another restricted device by big brother.
Get in touch with one of our team to discuss your needs.