Apple Configurator is a great tool for setting up iOS devices, but what happens after they are released into the wild? A Mobile Device Management solution is your friend here for being able to make changes to the devices over the air (OTA).
If you’re looking for a Mobile Device Management system there is a potentially bewildering array of choices. The most common offerings you’re likely to come across are Meraki, Casper Suite, SimpleMDM, AirWatch and Apple’s own Profile Manager which is built-in to Mac OS X Server. EnterpriseiOS have a good comparison of the feature sets of 30 MDM systems at http://enterpriseios.com/wiki/Comparison_MDM_Providers. Some of these solutions are free, some have a relatively high cost to get going with. Some are free for now with the caveat that they may become pay-for in the future.
Which MDM solution is right for you comes down to answering some key questions;
- Do you want to be able to give users a menu of apps to choose from?
- Do you want to deploy VPP codes to users in an easy way?
- Do you want reporting on the iOS devices in some way?
- Do you want to deploy content (eg iBooks) to devices?
- How do you want to authenticate the devices?
- Are you looking at BYOD deployment and want students to be self-sufficient with their support needs?
An MDM solution is an excellent asset to have. Typical uses for MDM are;
- Deploying wireless network details onto devices.
- Pushing out webclips to devices for new services.
- Configuring email settings onto devices.
- Locking or wiping an iPad in case of loss
Recently we rolled out a new wireless network. With around 150 iOS devices around the campus, some in groups in classrooms and others in staff members’ hands, being able to deploy a new wireless network profile to all of these devices assisted in a smooth transition from one system to another.