iOS 9 and Bushel Bring Apps To Devices Without Needing Apple IDs

An Apple ID is an account that users of any Apple device can use to access content on an iPhone, iPad, or Mac. This content includes iBooks from the iBook Store, apps from the Mac and iOS App Stores, and media from iTunes. Traditionally, each user should have their own Apple ID. This works great in home environments, and can be layered with Apple’s Family Plan in order to allow families to share content.
Work environments are a different story. One of the hardest things to deal with in Apple deployments has been how to deal with Apple IDs. Managing Apple IDs can become unwieldy depending if they decide to use Apple IDs for each user or for each device. To help with this, Apple built the ability to centrally manage some content using a Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution, such as Bushel (www.bushel.com). MDM is a service that allows users to enroll their device and then have content sent to that device from a central location. An MDM service can help you get devices set-up and then manage what users can do on those devices (e.g. you can restrict access to features you don’t want used, automatically deploy email accounts, or, if needed, wipe a device that falls outside your control). Content is then usually purchased in bulk using Apple’s Volume Purchase Program (VPP), so licenses are centrally owned and can be reclaimed if necessary.
The VPP allows organizations to buy 10 or 10,000 copies of an app, and automatically deploy that app to devices. Traditionally, each user or device required a unique Apple ID. This meant users needed to create Apple IDs, or organizations needed to create Apple IDs on their behalf. The MDM service then sent apps to devices using these Apple IDs. I have spent months working with schools and companies of all sizes on strategies for managing Apple IDs.
iOS 9 and OS X 10.11 (El Capitan) brought an entirely new way of deploying content to devices. You can now deploy an app or iBook to a device, rather than to an Apple ID meaning you can perform large deployments without having to use unique Apple IDs on each device. There might be other factors that still cause you to need to use Apple IDs, but distributing apps and books isn’t one of them. Many MDM solutions, including Bushel, have implemented this new option from Apple, greatly streamlining how devices are managed.
In order to deploy apps to devices, you’ll still need to buy those apps through the VPP. Doing so allows you to potentially get apps at a discount and provide better management over what users are able to do within those apps. For many environments, removing the need to use an Apple ID will make using Apple devices en masse so much simpler. An MDM can also remove the app from a device and allow an administrator to deploy the app to someone else (for example, if an employee who uses their own device leaves the organization).
Overall, this new feature of an MDM solution further underscores the need to manage devices centrally, no matter the size of your organization. And doing so doesn’t have to be a costly. Bushel can be used by administrators for free on up to three devices, forever, so smaller teams using company iPads, iPhones, or Macs might not even end up needing to pay for an MDM solution. As deployments grow, Bushel only costs $2 per device, per month.
Once upon a time, you needed large farms of servers to centrally manage mobile devices. These days, the solutions out there are inexpensive, if not free. If you have a growing number of Apple devices, want to be able to wipe your devices should you lose them, manage apps on devices, or manage what people can do on those devices, check out the many MDM solutions out there, including Bushel, the only one written from the ground up with small businesses in mind.
When you buy your devices, make sure they can be managed through Apple’s Device Enrollment Program (DEP). DEP allows you to ship devices to a user and have them join an MDM solution at set-up, automatically. Using an MDM solution in conjunction with Apple’s new Apple ID-free deployment options, VPP, and a DEP account provides you with the most zero-touch solution available, while being as secure as possible. And when you can give a user a device that’s still shrink-wrapped from Apple that they can set up themselves, you’ve just slashed IT costs and made sure your devices meet company requirements, all while providing users with a personal experience similar to the unbeatable Apple Retail experience. Your employees and coworkers will thank you.

Virtual desktops don’t replace EMM

A few weeks ago, a Gigaom Research client told me she was “sick of BYOD” and wanted out. She asked me if I thought she could “dump everything and just have employees remote into their desktops when they need to work from the road.”

It’s a compelling question, and timely, too.

In his 2015 end-user computing outlook, Gigaom Research analyst Simon Bramfitt documents the persistent fears that businesses have of BYOD plans along with the growing acceptance of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). It’s tempting to think that the two trends are directly connected: By turning smartphones and tablets into dumb terminals, we combine the redundant connectivity of a mobile device with all the security and manageability of a containerized desktop environment. If your iPad falls into a river, let it float — your data is safe on a server.

And plenty of vendors support VDI as an important component of an enterprise mobility solution. Citrix is  leading in mindshare, with a solid enterprise mobility management (EMM) platform and perhaps the industry’s best-known VDI solution. With AirWatch firmly under its wing, VMware offers a very similar range of features, and Microsoft isn’t far behind. Every week, in fact, I see lots of excitement from vendors about virtualized environments on mobile devices. But we’ve heard barely a peep from IT management — the ones who actually manage mobility programs. So while scrapping mobile app development in favor of delivering general-purpose apps to any device via a virtualized desktop seems like a tempting solution to a mobile headache, it clearly doesn’t stand in as a replacement for a BYOD plan.

In the last two years, I’ve only heard one other client mention an interest in using VDI as an alternative to apps. Here are three reasons why.

Assets still matter

An unlocked top-of-the-line smartphone like an iPhone 6 or a Galaxy 5 costs nearly as much as a laptop, and supporting and configuring that hardware is expensive (particularly if the tech support staff is not familiar with a specific phone model). And even if virtualization solved all security and access problems, tracking, managing and provisioning devices would still be a necessary and resource-consuming evil.

Mobile-device management (MDM) software provides those asset-focused services, and should be a standard deployment for every enterprise. And since most MDM providers already bundle a free or low-cost suite of applications to handle the most common productivity tasks, using those apps is generally much easier (and cheaper) than creating and supporting a virtualization program to connect to desktop apps.

Mobility is about more than the app

 Enterprise mobility isn’t simply about accessing apps on the go. The devices themselves are an integral part of the picture. That includes SMS, voice, location-based services, and the camera, all of which need to be managed and integrated into a system. For example, a sales app might integrate text and email communications with prospects while using GPS to guide reps to a meeting.  Enterprises supporting similar use cases beyond routine productivity  will want to take full advantage of everything a device has to offer through traditional apps.

There are also a number of mobile-specific concerns that rely on device and usage context. Throttling data transfers or disabling certain applications when a user is roaming or over a data cap can be managed fairly easily with EMM tools in traditional mobile settings. Connecting app behavior to device and plan data is much more difficult when the app is running inside a virtualized black box with limited connection to the device.

Mobile apps are different

Successful mobile apps are rarely anything like their desktop counterparts. While a desktop or web app can provide a wide range of choices through menus and expansive screens, a good mobile experience is heavily dependent on context and workflow, providing only the tools a worker needs at that moment to accomplish their current task. And since task switching is particularly difficult on mobile devices, good apps often pull from a number of different sources, mashing up traditional enterprise apps into a unified-but-focused front end.

And building those apps continues to get easier. No-coding platforms allow non-developers to drag-and-drop app components and data sources to create basic business apps. Cross-platform Mobile Application Development Platforms (MADPs) allow developers to write one set of code and deploy it to multiple target platforms.

VDI will certainly play a role in enterprise mobility. Our other client who asked about VDI had a very specific goal in mind. Following an acquisition, he wanted to provide an iOS environment to 500 new sales reps on non-Apple tablets. He needed his new employees to be productive right away, and he didn’t want to replace perfectly good hardware. That’s the kind of use case that’s absolutely perfect for VDI. It’s also a great solution for occasional users who need short-term access to a wide range of office applications and assets. But as a catchall solution, we’re going to have to live with EMM and mobile as we know them. Our devices are too smart to become dumb.

Image courtesy of triloks/iStock.

Implications of the Airwatch/VMware deal

WMware’s recent acquisition of AirWatch for $1.54 billion validates the EMM market and ups the stakes in the land rush to incorporate mobility into traditional systems management and enterprise productivity suites.

COPE: a new idea for an increasingly BYOD world

Businesses are increasingly moving to the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) model in an effort to please employees and trim the costs of mobile deployments. But the emergence of a new strategy suggests some businesses may want to pay for some of those new gadgets after all.