Between WWDC 2021 and the upcoming WWDC 2022, Apple has made significant changes that impact the enterprise community. It’s worth looking back at what’s changed and what that might mean moving forward.
One of the biggest changes goes back to last year’s conference. Positive management is the most significant change to Apple’s MDM (mobile device management) architecture since its inception in 2010.
The advantage of affirmative management is that it transfers much of the policy management to the devices themselves, rather than having configuration profiles on each device that requires it to check in with MDM service and report its state. Positive management allows the devices to track their performance against the detailed set of assurances. Devices only need to be connected when they are not compliant or when they receive new confirmations. So, devices can manage their situation without the need for fixed or repeated connections.
This is a great thing, even if many of the configuration options are remarkably similar to the MDM capabilities. It reduces network congestion and response time on the device. As Apple and other MDM vendors move to fully cloud-based solutions, these enhancements help deliver significant savings when it comes to bandwidth and user satisfaction.
Confirmation management is clearly the future for managing all Apple devices in an organization and the previous MDM framework is obsolete.
It is easy to imagine that framework will be obsolete and unsupported. This has consequences because older OSes (iPadOS, macOS, and tvOS) that are unable to run the appropriate versions that support authentication will eventually need to be replaced. Given Apple ‘s efforts to back up older devices with current software, this may not be an immediate concern. But IT leaders should pay attention.
Apple Business Basics
Apple was launched last November Apple Business Basicscloud-based MDM service for small and medium enterprises.
This puts Apple in an interesting position. For 12 years, the company allowed third-party vendors to provide enterprise MDM solutions rather than offering them themselves. Now Apple is competing with those MDM vendors.
It also allows Apple to leverage iCloud and manage Apple devices for users to create a collaboration platform in Microsoft 365 model and Google Workspace.
Apple Business Manager / Apple School Manager
These solutions are an integral part of Apple’s device management. As with Apple Business Essentials, Apple has migrated much of the procurement process to the cloud with a tool that integrates with third – party identity and authentication platforms (Azure AD idea) and / or managed Apple IDs. While these platforms already existed, the cloud-based emphasis is significant.
It’s another surprising change that Apple has implemented over the past few months support for unlisted apps. Unlisted apps are downloaded using iOS or macOS App Stores, but are not visible when browsing or searching the App Stores. The only way to access them is through a link provided by IT departments.
This may seem like a weird change, but it does allow organizations to deploy apps without relying on MDM to provide the apps. This fits well with Apple Business Essentials and for organizations that do not want to fully embrace MDM solutions. It also works well for organizations that rely on external consultants / contractors and need to deploy in-house enterprise apps but do not want to register their personal devices.
MacOS server killed
I wrote about it end of macOS Server and the fact that it was in place for many years before Apple’s decision to remove it this spring. Eventually, there were only a few services that continued to operate in macOS Server.
The move is in line with the strategies outlined above – moving the management and supply of devices to the cloud rather than using an on-premises solution. Moving forward with Business Essentials and Business Manager as the new keys for Apple device management, this was a completely predictable move.
Where other things go
With so much happening in the enterprise over the last 12 months, I do not expect to see any major enterprise changes entering Apple ‘s various platforms. I hope that most of the enterprise track at WWDC will be focused on clarifying how things will work in this MDM cloud reality.
There will probably be some tweaks to things like positive management, user – based enrollment, and managed Apple IDs, but I do not expect any ads, sessions or labs that change paradigm.
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