How Apple Updates Mobile Device Management

How Apple Updates Mobile Device Management

At final week’s WWDC, Apple introduced a sequence of modifications that have an effect on system administration as an entire or apply to declarative administration used on particular person units. Below is a abstract of the modifications and why they’re necessary.

by Ryan Fass

As anticipated, at WWDC, Apple introduced some main modifications to the way in which Macs, iPads, iPhones, and Apple TV are managed in enterprise and academic settings. The modifications are divided into two teams: modifications that have an effect on international system administration and modifications that apply to declarative administration, a brand new sort of system administration that Apple launched in iOS 15 final 12 months.

It is necessary to have a look at every group individually to raised perceive the modifications.

How is Apple altering international system administration?

apple configurator

Apple Configurator for iPhone has been considerably expanded. It has lengthy been a technique of manually enrolling iPhones and iPads into administration, slightly than utilizing automated or self-enrollment instruments. Originally launched as a Mac utility, the software can configure the system, but it surely has one main drawback: the system should be related through USB to the Mac operating the applying. This has apparent time and labor implications for something apart from the area of interest.

Last 12 months, Apple launched the iPhone model of the Configurator, which reversed the unique workflow, which means the iPhone model of the app could possibly be used wirelessly to enroll Macs into administration. It is primarily used to enroll in Apple Business Manager Macs bought exterior of the Apple Business/Education channel (the place Apple merchandise bought by this channel can self-enroll with zero-touch provisioning).

The avatar of the iPhone could be very easy. During the setup course of, the iPhone digital camera is geared toward an animation on the Mac display screen (corresponding to pairing an Apple Watch), which triggers the registration course of.

The greatest change this 12 months is that Apple has expanded using Apple Configurator for iPhone to help enrollment on iPads and iPhones utilizing the identical course of – eliminating the requirement to attach the system to a Mac. This tremendously reduces the effort and time required to register these units. One caveat: Devices that require mobile activation or which can be locked might want to manually full the activation earlier than utilizing the configurator.

Identity administration

Apple has made useful modifications to identification administration in enterprise environments. Best of all: it now helps different identification suppliers, together with Google Workspace and Oauth 2, enabling a wider pool of suppliers. (Azure AD is already supported.) These identification suppliers can be utilized with Apple Business Manager to generate Managed Apple IDs for workers.

The firm additionally introduced that it’s going to roll out help for cross-platform single sign-on registration when macOS Ventura and iOS/iPadOS 16 arrive this fall. The purpose right here is to make person registration simpler and extra streamlined by requiring customers to authenticate solely as soon as. Apple additionally launched a single sign-on platform designed to increase and simplify entry to company functions and web sites every time a tool is authenticated.

user-managed community

Apple has lengthy had a per-app VPN function, which solely permits particular firms or work-related apps to make use of an energetic VPN connection. This works for VPN safety, however limits VPN load by solely sending application-specific visitors over the VPN connection. In macOS Ventura and iOS/iPadOS 16, Apple is including per-app DNS proxy and per-app net content material filtering. This helps shield visitors for particular apps and options in the identical method as per-app VPNs. This doesn’t require modifications to the applying itself. Proxy DNS helps system-wide or per-application choices, whereas content material filtering helps system-wide or as much as seven situations per utility.

E-SIM configuration

For eSIM-enabled iPhones, Apple allows cell system administration (MDM) software program to configure and ship eSIMs. This can embody provisioning new units, migrating bearers, utilizing a number of bearers, or establishing journey and roaming.

Accessibility Settings Management

Apple is understood for its wide selection of accessibility options for individuals with particular wants. In truth, many individuals with no particular wants use many of those options. In iOS/iPadOS 16, Apple permits MDM to mechanically configure among the commonest options, together with: textual content measurement, voiceover, zoom, haptic adjustment, daring textual content, cut back movement, improve distinction, and reduce transparency. In areas corresponding to particular schooling or hospitals and healthcare, it could be a welcome software to share gear amongst customers with particular wants.

What’s new in Apple’s declarative administration course of?

Apple launched declarative administration final 12 months as an enchancment over its authentic MDM protocol. Its enormous benefit is that it offloads a lot of the enterprise logic, compliance and administration of MDM companies onto every system. Therefore, the system can actively monitor its standing. This eliminates the necessity for the MDM service to constantly ballot the system standing after which concern instructions in response. Instead, units make these modifications primarily based on their present state and the statements despatched to them, and report them to the service.

Declarative administration relies on declarations that embody issues like activation and configuration. One benefit is {that a} declaration can embody a number of configurations, in addition to an activation indicating when or if the configuration needs to be activated. This implies that a single declare can comprise all settings for all customers, in addition to activations indicating which customers to use to. This reduces the necessity for numerous completely different configurations, because the system itself can decide which configurations needs to be enabled for the system primarily based on its person.

This 12 months, Apple expanded the areas through which declarative administration can be utilized. Initially, it was solely out there on iOS/iPadOS 15 units using person enrollment. Going ahead, all Apple units operating MacOS Ventura or iOS/iPadOS/tvOS 16 might be supported no matter your subscription sort. This means system enrollment (together with supervised units) is totally supported, as is shared iPad (a sort of enrollment that enables a number of customers to share the identical iPad, every with their very own profiles and information).

The firm has made it clear that declarative administration is the way forward for system administration at Apple, and any new administration capabilities will solely be applied within the declarative mannequin. While conventional MDM has been round for some time, it has been deprecated and can finally be overhauled.

This has main implications for gear that’s already in use. Devices that may’t run MacOS Ventura or iOS/iPadOS 16 will finally be out of date, whereas these nonetheless in use will must be changed. Given the wide selection of units out of help, this could possibly be a pricey transition for some organizations. Although not instantly, you need to begin to decide the dimensions and value of the transition and the way you’ll handle it (particularly since it could require transitioning to Apple Silicon, which doesn’t help the power to run Windows or Windows functions, within the course of.).

In addition to increasing the merchandise that may use declarative administration, Apple has additionally expanded its capabilities to incorporate help for configuring passwords, enterprise accounts, and putting in apps managed by MDM.

Password choices are extra advanced than merely asking for some sort of password. Password compliance has historically been required for sure security-related configurations, corresponding to sending company Wi-Fi configuration to units. In the declarative mannequin, these settings could be despatched to the system earlier than the password is ready. They are despatched with the password requirement and comprise an activation that’s solely activated when the person creates a password that complies with this coverage. Once the person units the password, the system will detect the change and activate the MDM service’s multi-connection Wi-Fi setting, instantly activating Wi-Fi and notifying that the service has been activated.

Accounts – which may embody mail, notes, calendars, and subscribed calendars – work in a similar way. A declaration can specify all supported account sorts throughout the group, in addition to all subscribed calendars. The system will then decide activation and activation primarily based on the person’s account and function throughout the group.

MDM utility set up is crucial addition to declarative administration, as utility set up is considered one of MDM’s most loaded duties and the most important bottleneck within the bulk system activation course of. Claims can specify all potential functions which can be put in on activation and despatched to the system, even earlier than it is delivered to the person. Likewise, the system will decide which utility set up settings are enabled and provided primarily based on the person. This prevents every system from repeatedly querying the service and downloading the app and its settings. It additionally simplifies and hurries up the method of activating (or deactivating) functions if the person’s function modifications.

These are vital enhancements, and it is easy to see why they had been the primary additions of declarative administration after the preliminary implementation. There are nonetheless MDM options that have not made the leap to declarative utilization but, but it surely’s clear that finally — presumably as early as subsequent 12 months — they may.

This is considered one of WWDC’s most necessary bulletins for enterprise, and it is nice to see Apple being considerate in deciding which options so as to add or replace, as most of them tackle areas which can be tough, time-consuming, resource-consuming or boring. Not solely is Apple assembly the wants of enterprise clients, but it surely additionally reveals that it understands these wants.

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