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iPad Management Steps

This section outlines each step involved with iPad deployment or management. It will give a greater description of each part of iOS device deployment. Each section will list the tools that can be used to complete a certain step as well as examples.

This information is valid as of 8/23/2012. As enterprise iOS deployment progresses the validity of the information on this page may change.

Tools Used

xcode
XCode
apple-configurator
Apple Configurator
iTunes
iTunes
pcfree
PC Free

Activation

Before anything can be done with a new iPad, it must be activated. Prior to iOS 5, activation had to be done by connecting the device to a computer running iTunes. A new feature introduced in iOS 5 was over-the-air (OTA) activation. To complete OTA activation you must be able to connect the device to the internet through Wi-Fi. Apple’s new tool, Apple Configurator, allows users to activate the device by connecting it to a computer, without the need for iTunes.

Enrollment

This step is only necessary if you are enrolling your iPads into a Mobile Device Managment tool. A Mobile Device Management (MDM) server gives you greater control over a large scale iOS deployment. There are many choices when selecting a MDM server, Apple has their own offering with Profile Manager included with OS X Server 10.7 or greater. The Cambridge Public School District has gone with JAMF Software’s Casper MDM.

Configuration

Configuration profiles are xml files that hold configuration information for iOS devices. Configuration profiles can be created using a variety of tools including iPhone Configuration Utility, some third-party MDM servers, or Apple Configurator. Configuration profiles can be used to include settings such as Wi-Fi networks, email settings, and webclips. They can also include device restrictions such as requiring a passcode, disabling app installations, or disabling YouTube.

App Distribution

One of the most important pieces of iPad deployment, and probably the most difficult. App distribution can be handled many different ways. It can be centrally managed by a sync station computer, managed remotely with a MDM server, or managed on the device by the user. Each method has its pros and cons, which I will cover in this section. The way you handle app distribution will vary depending on which ownership model you choose.

eBook Distribution

A new concept to iPad deployment is distribution of eBooks. eBooks are a rapidly growing medium, and whether you are deploying digital textbooks or sharing student created eBooks, chances are at some point you will have to think about how you will distribute them. This section will cover some of the ways you distribute eBooks.

Inventory

Keeping an up to date inventory is very important. Of course you can use programs like Microsoft Excel or Google Spreadsheets to maintain an inventory list, but this is one section where MDM servers really shine. Most third party MDM servers should have the ability to inventory your enrolled devices. With JAMF’s Casper MDM when a device is enrolled its information is collected automatically (name, serial number, MAC address, storage capacity, etc). Then, with this information stored in the MDM servers database, we can generate custom inventory reports of specific information.

iOS Updates

Before Apple Configurator came out updating was a big challenge. The only options were to update the devices one-by-one with iTunes or directly on the device. You could also leverage Xcode to complete firmware updates on multiple devices at the same time, but this required backing up and wiping all devices, updating the firmware, then restoring the backups. Apple Configurator streamlines the process, so there is really no better choice for completing this step.

Backups

Device backups are a crucial part of the management process. iCloud is great for personal use, but its not quite ready to be used in an education or enterprise environment. This section will discuss the various tools and procedures you can use to keep regular backups of your devices.