Apple Business Manager (ABM) is a centralized platform to enable IT teams to automate device enrollment and deployment, purchase, manage, and distribute content, and delegate administrator privileges, and manage roles in their organizations. Its secure management framework for iOS, macOS, and tvOS facilitates IT teams to configure and update settings, deploy apps, monitor compliance, query devices, and remotely wipe or lockdown devices, and seamlessly integrate with a mobile device management solution.
Apple announced the general availability for Apple Business Manager in June 2018, which is now available in 65 countries (or regions). It was launched to ease IT teams’ efforts for managing devices, content distribution, and employee roles in an organization.
Here is a quick roundup on Apple Business Manager and how it can impact your business.
Apple Business Manager: A Brief History
Apple has been empowering organizations and educational institutions to set up, configure, and preload (with necessary apps and configurations) their devices in bulk. And during the past decade, it has launched several programs, tweaked and evolved them to make the task of IT teams easier and efficient.
Apple Volume Purchase Program (VPP)
The Volume Purchase Program (VPP) was launched in 2010 to distribute apps on Apple devices using coupon codes. Since then several capabilities have been added for bulk distribution of apps and books across devices, under ‘managed distribution’. Apps and books are now assigned to AppleIDs of devices, apps can be recalled once their purpose is fulfilled (books cannot be), app installation now requires no user interaction for supervised devices.
VPP is now available across 34 countries and regions, enabling businesses and institutes to purchase, distribute, and manage their apps in bulk, in a secure and flexible manner.
Apple Device Enrollment Program (DEP)
In 2014, came the Apple DEP for bulk and zero-touch enrollment, configuration, and supervision of institutionally-owned devices. By using DEP with an Apple MDM solution, organizations can manage a large number of devices efficiently and seamlessly, even from a remote location.
Apple School Manager
In 2016, Apple School Manager was launched to combine the power of DEP and VPP into one education service. Schools can now automatically enroll, deploy, and configure apps on iPad and Mac devices, and equip them with the learning tools.
Managed Ids can dynamically update user information for students, teachers, and staff, and organize classes as well. You can even set up devices for sharing and students can log in by tapping onto their photos to resume their previous content.
Apple Business Manager
The logical evolution of the Apple School Manager was the Apple Business Manager (ABM), which has similar yet different features to cater to the business requirements. Launched in 2018, the Apple Business Manager, combines the Device Enrollment Program (DEP) and the Volume Purchase Program, apart from providing a unified interface to manage, enroll, and configure company-owned Apple devices for different classes of users.
What Does the Apple Business Manager Do?
Some of the capabilities of the web-based IT management of the Apple Business Manager are:
Apple DEP simplifies the set-up process and easily manages default MDM servers by setting a default server based on the device type. Also, devices can be automatically enrolled with zero-touch configuration, ensuring all users receive configuration when they activate their device(s).
Organizations can buy content in volume, distribute it flexibly and securely using the Apps and Books section. Organizations can manage and streamline distribution and retain full ownership of apps and keep track of the content that has been assigned to a specific device or user. Multinational distribution makes app distribution easier across countries and regions. Organizations can also use multiple methods of payment like credit cards, purchase orders, and Volume Credit to buy from Apple or an Apple Authorized Reseller.
You can create different user accounts, multiple administrator roles, additional accounts to manage devices or content, delegate privileges, transfer roles, deactivate and delete accounts that are no longer needed.
The Administrator role in ABM (Apple Business Manager) is called Manager, and an organization can have up to five Managers. If you are using DEP or VPP, on upgrading DEP Admins become Device Managers and VPP Admins are converted to Content Managers. People Manager can create other Admins. Admins can add, remove, or change Manager roles. Also, a user can have multiple roles in ABM (Apple Business Manager). You could even assign roles based on location(s)!
Managed Apple Ids are automatically created when an organization is verified by Apple. These Managed Ids can be used to access Apple products and services owned by the business. Once you buy a product (or service) it will appear on ABM (Apple Business Manager) portal and you can begin configuring your devices and accounts straight away.
Thus, Apple Business Manager consolidates all the features of DEP and VPP and some other useful capabilities in a single platform, giving you full supervision over devices and the applications loaded on them, without the need of physically accessing them.
So, if you are using DEP and VPP to manage device assignments, app purchases, or content, you simply need to upgrade to Apple Business Manager.
What ABM (Apple Business Manager) Doesn’t Do?
The Apple Business Manager is not a replacement for an MDM or UEM. It has to work with your MDM servers to deploy configuration and policy on your business-owned devices.
Is Apple Business Manager MDM Program a Right Fit for Your Business Needs?
If you are using the DEP or VPP programs or both, Apple Business Manager MDM will provide a unified platform with all the capabilities that you are already using. Role and location-based features can help you manage subsidiaries or many DEP/VPP admins. Also, upgrading to ABM (Apple Business Manager) is seamless and you would be able to see and use all your data as you have done before.
Even if you are not using DEP/VPP but you have a plethora of devices and have multiple administrative profiles, ABM (Apple Business Manager) can still organize and simplify your IT efforts.
Now you have a brief idea about what is Apple Business Manager and how it magnifies the benefits of Apple devices enrolled in Apple MDM. ABM will continue to evolve with added capabilities and security features.