Big business likes Apple — most smartphones and tablets used in the corporate world bear the Apple logo (72 percent and 90 percent respectively). But deploying hundreds or thousands of those mobile devices can be a logistical headache for any IT department.
Throughout the last few months, I’ve helped numerous organizations solve this problem by tapping Apple’s Device Enrollment Program (DEP), a specific method of gatekeeping Apple’s mobile and tablet devices. Each DEP rollout reinforces four thoughts in my mind, lessons I’ve learned along the way that can benefit every company considering a DEP deployment. Take a look.
1. A full deployment makes updates, content pushes easier
After working with small businesses with just a handful of employees and enterprise organizations with thousands, we’ve seen first-hand that Apple’s DEP deployment makes rolling out new Apple products incredibly easy. Enrolling devices through DEP can be accomplished by an IT department, and now Apple allows select third-party resellers to offer DEP to business customers.
Organizations should enroll all company-owned devices in DEP from the start, and here’s why: If IT wants to transition a device into DEP after the fact, it can take a few days to complete its deployment and registration. A device enrolled in DEP at launch will work the same as a non-DEP device, but it has the power to receive updates and new content if needed.
It is important to note that DEP goes beyond simple app and configuration deployments. Its true power is creating a streamlined method of mobile device management (MDM) installation and knowledge distribution. Through an MDM solution, organizations can push out app updates, security upgrades, and even content to all Apple devices, giving users up-to-date software and company materials.
Plenty of companies prefer to enroll devices in DEP to easily switch ownership when needed. Organizations often enroll devices in DEP, but do not push updates or install apps onto devices. Rather, the MDM component of DEP strictly acts as an easy way to wipe a device and transfer ownership.
2. But DEP might not be for everyone (or every device)
This seems to contradict lesson number 1, but it’s more of a clarification. There are certain situations in which IT might not want DEP for every device an organization purchases. For example, we’ve worked with some organizations that purchased iPads for their employees with the understanding that the tablets belong to the individuals, not the company. In cases like this, management and IT agree that while these tablets serve a work purpose, enrolling them in DEP anchors the device to the organization. While the company may opt to install an MDM outside of DEP, management and IT understand that when an employee leaves the company, he or she will take their device but not the organization’s data and content.
3. Examine your needs before pairing devices to MDM
One of the requirements of DEP is MDM; to complete a DEP registration, organizations must have an approved MDM solution at the ready. But these solutions are commoditized, and organizations often have a hard time differentiating the features and capabilities of similar solutions.
Selecting the right MDM goes beyond feature comparison, and the process of picking the right solution begins with identifying how it will be used and the needs of the organization. By working with an independent, third-party expert, organizations can better align their needs with the features of an MDM solution. This outside consultant should be capable of detailing the strengths of each solution and how they interact with current software environments. By understanding how devices will be used, organizations can wisely pick an MDM solution that fits their needs and preferences.
4. Using DEP can save IT time and you money
The organizations we’ve helped set up DEP report that it’s been a positive return on investment. No longer is IT swamped with requests for configuring devices or installing applications, nor are IT professionals busy with establishing profiles on every new device. DEP enables uniform profile creation and speedy rollouts, and because each device runs an MDM, updates are pushed out uniformly without delay. Together, these capabilities free up IT to focus on other priorities and enhance the overall IT ecosystem.
Moving forward with DEP
As organizations continue integrating mobile devices, IT is tasked with ensuring they’re up to date on security patches and content. Through Apple’s DEP, IT can control these assets, and push out updates and content for the organization’s needs.
Helping numerous organizations through a DEP rollout has taught us some valuable insights, from why DEP may not be the best idea for all devices, and why organizations need to look at their internal processes before choosing an external MDM solution. Overall, an organization that enrolls in DEP, and that uses the right MDM solution, can save time and money through regular content pushes and enrollments that both enhance worker productivity and create more time for IT professionals to focus on networks, hardware, and software upgrades.
Talk to your SHI representatives to learn how SHI can help you with Apple’s Deployment Programs.