Apple devices such as the iPhone and iPad began as consumer gadgets, but as they've made their way into the workplace, Apple has responded with some enterprise-friendly features.
There are tools that ease mobile printing pains, help devices and apps discover one another on corporate networks, and make deploying configuration and mobile device management (MDM) settings a little easier. Apple enterprise tools aren't perfect, and they don't offer complete security or management options on their own, but they are a step in the right direction. IT administrators should look to the enterprise tools and features that Apple supplies as supplements to other management options.
1Defining the tools-
Apple enterprise products and services
Apple has released tools and services that help solve common problems in the enterprise, such as mobile printing and device configuration. Before you learn how to use these options, check out what they are and how they function.
Apple AirPrint is a mobile printing tool that lets users print from their iOS devices. Any apps that use the iOS printing system can connect to AirPrint. Using Apple Bonjour, AirPrint can communicate directly with AirPrint-enabled printers that are connected to the same Wi-Fi network as the device sending the print request. Users can also send print jobs to printers that are shared by a Mac computer or a desktop PC. Continue Reading
Apple Bonjour is a set of networking technologies that help devices and apps find each other on the same network. At home, people use Bonjour to let Windows and Apple devices share printers, but Bonjour can be useful in the enterprise. Employees can find printers, monitors for presentations and more. The drawback is that devices and apps can only be found when on the same Wi-Fi network. Bonjour comes installed on OS X and iOS, but some Apple software installs it on Windows PCs automatically. Continue Reading
Apple Configurator is a free tool for Mac computers that lets IT configure and set up iOS devices through a USB connection. IT can create configuration profiles, import profiles from the iPhone Configuration Utility (ICU), install specific versions of iOS and enforce security. Configurator also has some MDM features, such as device wipe. Continue Reading
Apple's iPhone Configuration Utility is free Mac and Windows software that lets admins control how iOS devices work on a network. Admins can create a configuration profile to control users' access to corporate apps and data, and they can deploy apps to iOS devices. The ICU also has some MDM capabilities, such as application programming interfaces that let admins send out, update and remove profiles over the air. Continue Reading
2How to use them-
Putting Apple tools to use
Now that you know the Apple enterprise tools that are at your disposal, it's time to learn how to use them for the management of iOS devices in the enterprise. Whether the devices that are coming through your office doors are corporate or personally owned, Apple's tools offer some ways to improve workers' productivity and mobility. Keep in mind, however, that none of the tools are a panacea for the problems that iOS devices bring to the workplace.
It can be a pain to print from a mobile device, but AirPrint lets iOS devices and applications connect to print drivers without much configuration. AirPrint uses Bonjour to connect printers and devices, however, so a user looking to print from an iPhone can only print to an AirPrint-enabled printer that's connected to the same network. Unfortunately, many of the printers in offices today aren't AirPrint-ready. Continue Reading
It can be tough for users to connect their iOS devices to file-sharing servers, printers and monitors, but an Apple Bonjour gateway can help. Bonjour helps devices and apps find each other, but a Bonjour gateway from Aerohive Networks Inc. or Citrix Systems Inc. makes devices and apps discoverable across various different Wi-Fi networks. A Bonjour gateway also gives IT some granular controls over how devices can connect and where they can have access. Continue Reading
With Apple Configurator, it's easy for IT to control and implement iOS device settings, plus it's free from the Mac App Store. All you need is a Mac with OS X 10.7.5 or newer and iTunes 10.7 or later. You also need to have the devices in hand and physically connect them to the Mac. Apple Configurator lets you configure up to 30 devices at one time, but getting them from users when you want to deploy a new profile or make updates can be a challenge. Continue Reading
You can use Apple Configurator to import and export configuration settings and share profiles from the ICU among other admins, but its limitations don't make it a prime candidate to be your organization's sole MDM tool. Especially in big companies, it's a good idea to use Configurator as a supplement to a broader MDM strategy. Continue Reading
Configuration profiles have settings such as passcode guidelines, functionality restrictions and specifications for virtual private network, Wi-Fi and email access. Applying these profiles to iOS devices though the ICU is a good way to define the apps and services that devices can interact with, including infrastructure such as routers, switches and access points. You can also use the profiles to determine which apps can be installed on devices, ask users for passwords and more. Continue Reading