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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.

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Essential Deployment Tools

Apple Configurator

Apple introduced a new tool in March of 2012 to assist with mass deployment and management of iOS devices in an educational or business environments.
From the Apple App Store:
Apple Configurator can be used by larger organizations and businesses to set up new devices, install enterprise apps, and enroll each device with a Mobile Device Management solution for remote management by an IT administrator. It is perfect for the classroom or student lab where devices need to be quickly refreshed and kept up to date with the correct settings, approved policies, apps and data. Apple Configurator can also be used to personalize devices with data and documents for specific users.

Link to Apple Configurator Mac App Store

iTunes

iTunes was originally released as a computer media player back on January 9th, 2001. It has evolved quite a bit since then, and although its not the best tool for mass iPad deployment it can still get the job done. Until the release of Apple Configurator, iTunes was the primary method to set up and manage iPads both for personal and professional use.

Link to Apple iTunes Page

Xcode

Xcode is Apple’s development environment used to create apps for both the Mac and iOS platforms. You’re probably saying “I’m not going to be writing any apps.” Well Xcode can be used for more than just that. You can use it to push out mass firmware updates. Xcode can install an iOS firmware update on at least 30 device at one time (not sure if there is a maximum) unlike iTunes which can only update the firmware on 1 device at a time.

Link to Apple Xcode Page

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Creating an Apple ID without a credit card

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If you’re using the Volume Purchase Program (VPP) and you don’t have a credit card to link to each Apple ID you may have noticed that during the Apple ID account creation your are asked for a credit card.

Normally when you create an Apple ID there is no option to select “None” as the credit card

before

This guide will demonstrate a workaround on how to create an Apple ID without being required to link a credit card to the account.

Requirements

  • Mac or PC with iTunes installed
  • A seperate email account for each Apple ID you are creating

Instructions

1. Open iTunes

2. Make sure you are signed out of iTunes. Click “Store” in the top navigation and choose “Sign Out”

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3. Go to “iTunes Store” located in the left hand column of iTunes
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4. Search for an app that you know is free. Lets use Google Earth.
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5. Click on the “Free” button next to one of the results. (It doesn’t matter which “Free” button you click)

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6. A dialog window will pop up asking you to log in. Click the “Create Apple ID” button.
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7. Now go through the steps to create an Apple ID. When you get to the payment selection screen you will notice you can now select “None” as a payment type.

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Once you complete the Apple ID creation steps you will need to verify the email address before it’s activated. Once the email address is verified you will have an Apple ID that can download free apps and redeem VPP codes to download paid apps all without having a credit card on file.