This post is brought to you by Apple MDM service Hexnode.
Apple devices are great mobile computing machines and powerhouses for business productivity. But let’s face it, managing Apple devices is no easy feat. Whether you’re a small business or large enterprise, your IT department still ends up tussling with device configuration issues and app-management woes. Why? Because Apple’s native management tools are great on paper, but fall flat in delivering a cohesive device-management experience.
Apple Configurator is a free macOS app that lets you set up configurations, restrictions and apps on your iOS and tvOS devices. You can supervise devices and unlock elevated device restrictions, upgrade or downgrade the OS, and erase content and settings.
However, there’s a catch. You must physically hook up the devices to a Mac running Apple Configurator. If you’re thinking it’s no biggie and you’ll connect a whole bunch of devices via a USB hub, well, it works, you can prep them in one go — but not always! Occasionally, profiles don’t go through. Or apps fail during push, leaving devices stranded in an ethereal, quasi-supervision state. You can still erase devices and start over, but all in all, it’s a messy affair.
Profile Manager and its limitations
Profile Manager is the mobile device management (MDM) service built into Apple’s macOS Server app. It lets you create configuration profiles with network settings and security restrictions, then wirelessly distribute them to devices. You can enroll iOS, macOS and tvOS devices in Profile Manager and remotely lock or wipe them. It’s easy to set up and works great if you have a handful of devices.
However, as your fleet grows, you’ll start to experience slowdowns and hiccups. Once you reach around a hundred devices, Profile Manager starts to choke. There’s even a running joke about it in the Mac admin community: Friends don’t let friends use Profile Manager. In reality, it’s not that Profile Manager is built any less robustly than similar services. But it’s just one server — there’s no way you can scale it. There’s no high availability (HA) setup, no load balancing, no failover. You’ve got a single Mac Pro or Mac mini and that’s it.
There’s a better way for MDM on Mac
Though native management frameworks are a letdown, the good news is that Cupertino lets third-party software vendors build MDM tools using Apple’s API. As for MDMs, there are quite a few available, from the absurdly priced Networking, Identity & Access management suites to bare-bones apps disguised as enterprise mobility solutions. It makes (dollars and) sense to try one out before signing on for a lengthy contract. Hexnode MDM — the award-winning device-, app- and content-management solution — offers a full-featured, no-strings trial for 30 days.
The slick UI, tons of features, and powerful integrations are sure to make you instantly fall in love. You just can’t go wrong with the flexible, pay-as-you go pricing, which starts at $1 per device, monthly.
Enrolling devices on Hexnode MDM is a breeze. It supports iOS, Mac, Apple TVs and even Android and Windows platforms. So you just choose a zero-touch deployment option, and you’ll be up and running in no time. The built-in compliance engine continually scans devices and surfaces policy violations. The Dashboard makes it easy to keep an eye on key metrics and promptly remediate issues. Unified policies mean you don’t have to create separate ones for your iPads and Macs — just add configurations for all platforms in one common policy, and they contextually disseminate down to the last device in your fleet.
Seamless app distribution
App distribution is a joy to use. You can deploy in-house apps or store apps. With Apple Volume Purchase Program (VPP) integration, you can easily purchase apps and books in bulk, then roll them out with user- or device-based licensing. A custom app catalog lets you provide users with a single place to install essential apps or bring new apps you recommend to the spotlight. Data loss prevention features come baked right in, too. They remarkably improve your security posture.
When you use Hexnode MDM to deploy corporate email settings and apps, users can open attachments only in other apps installed through Hexnode MDM. This way, memos and presentations unmistakably reach the dedicated work apps rather than ending up in users’ personal accounts. Better yet, when devices are disenrolled, corporate email accounts, apps and associated settings are securely wiped without touching users’ personal apps or content.
Hexnode MDM + Apple Business Manager: The real deal
To get the most out of your Apple device deployments, you should leverage Hexnode MDM’s Apple Business Manager (ABM) integration. ABM is a free, web-based portal where you can handle new device deployments, configure settings, and purchase apps and books. Organizations and educational institutions already enrolled in Apple’s Device Enrollment Program can easily upgrade their account to Apple Business Manager (ABM) or Apple School Manager (ASM).
Once you integrate it with Hexnode MDM, boy, you are in for the ultimate unbox-and-go experience. You can preconfigure IT workflows, first-boot experiences, and apps from your Hexnode MDM portal — then they automagically take effect as users unbox devices and power them on for the first time. IT teams no longer must share a common Apple ID. Managed Apple IDs in ABM allow each member to have their own unique ID, with permissions based on their roles. If you have multiple offices, you can set up different locations within your ABM and manage devices, admins and app licenses independently.
Hexnode MDM is a phenomenal tool to manage your iOS devices, Macs, Apple TVs and even Android and Windows devices. It’s quick to get started and easy to use, with plenty to offer for power users. It’s cloud-based — with anytime, anywhere access to manage your device fleet. There’s also an on-premises edition for you security-conscious folks out there.