"When you're dealing with thousands of devices, you have a need for some features that Profile Manager lacks," Okihara says. Features such as the number and name of installed iOS apps, in conveniently organized alphabetical listings.
But what Profile Manager does offer is powerful advance for IT managers. "For me, managing iOS devices is the real tipping point for bringing in Lion Server," says Benjamin Levy, principal, Solutions Consulting, a Los Angeles IT consultancy specializing in the Apple platforms. "It's a pretty strong benefit!"
The rise of iOS as a primary enabler for enterprise mobility creates some strange environments.
One IT manager, who works for a federal contractor and requested anonymity, explains she has been placed in charge of administering 350 iPads and iPhones that were handed out by fiat, with no plans to support or manage them. The desktop and backend infrastructures are all Microsoft-based. All the devices have Wi-Fi although, according to policy, employees are forbidden to use it for security reasons.
Lacking even Lion Server, her iOS management is entirely manual. The user population, many of them scientists, have little familiarity with iOS or even iTunes. "I have to hold their hands when they update via iTunes," she says.
As a result of MacIT talks, she's looking at buying an inexpensive Mac Mini to run Lion Server so she can exploit Profile Manager.
Another complicated issue is trying to coordinate the company's procurement and reimbursement policies in the federal space with individual iTunes accounts for buying apps. She says she's met twice a week for weeks trying to hash out how to handle something that ought to be simple.
But, in general, enterprise concerns about iOS management are addressable, says consultant Benjamin Levy. "For iOS, Apple has very strong tools and procedures for management, configuration and deployment, as well as creation of in-house apps," Levy says. "There is a healthy market of third-party tools as well."
Resources for managing iOS mobile devices
(from a MacIT presentation by Derick Okihara, downloadable via DropBox)
- Apple support page on Profile Manager
- "Managing iOS devices with OS X Lion Server," by Arek Dreyer
- Mobile Device Management, at Enterprise iOS
- About Apple Profile Manager, at EnterpriseiOS.com
- Comparison of Mobile Device Management Vendors, at EnterpriseiOS.com
- "In order to utilize MDM capabilities built-in to iOS 4, your organization must enroll in the iOS Developer Enterprise Program (iDEP) iOS Developer Program. See Apple IOS Enterprise Developer Program Overview for requirements. The regular iOS Developer Program is for publishing apps to the iTunes App Store."
- Apple White Paper: "iOS 4 Education Deployment Guide" [with lots of information relevant for non-education deployments]
John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.Twitter: http://twitter.com/johnwcoxnww Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Blog RSS feed: http://www.networkworld.com/community/blog/2989/feed
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