Best practices for Apple device management

Learn why best practices are important, where they come from, and how they help simplify managing Apple in the enterprise.

February 10 2015 by

Daniel Weber

Why are IT best practices important?

IT best practices ensure that processes and workflows executed by IT resources are sound and proven, promoting cost-effective delivery of IT services. Building activities around best practices can increase the effectiveness of IT projects and programs. Best practices are assembled with specific goals or outcomes in mind, plans to achieve those outcomes, and measures to prove results. Best practices come from the experience of others in the past that have attempted to achieve a common goal, have executed a plan within a framework, and measured effective results. If a process or workflow produced a successful outcome and has been proven repeatable, it will likely work again in a similar environment.

Where do best practices come from?

The key to understanding best practices for managing Mac, iPad, and iPhone devices in the enterprise begins with connecting with the Apple device management community. JAMF Nation is the largest Apple device management community in the world, with over 20,000 members. On JAMF Nation, the community offers many different suggestions regarding best practices for managing Apple devices, ranging from managing software packages and updates to policy distribution and from printer management to iPad support and management. Best practices come from a community of people working together to learn about what works best for managing IT services and what leads to successful outcomes. So, if you want to lean more about best practices for managing Apple devices in the enterprise, check out the JAMF Nation discussion board and search “best practices” and you’ll be sure to find a wealth of information.

What are some best practices for managing Apple in the enterprise?

Test, test, and test some more!

One best practice for managing Apple devices in the enterprise that may seem obvious, but gets skipped far too often as deployment projects are rushed along, is testing. It is always important to test all deployments and updates in a test environment/instance prior to implementing changes in production. If you are using the Casper Suite, why not use sites to carve out an environment for some test devices (i.e. don’t test in the production environment.) And while you are testing software and OS updates, you can use restricted software to prevent users from updating while you test.

Use the right workflow for the right user

Preferences and technical skill level of users can vary widely in an enterprise environment. Some users have a great degree of technical acumen and expect autonomy, while others have less exposure to technology and need more hands-on support. When managing Apple in the enterprise, it is important to provide a superior and intuitive user experience for everyone — because this is what users expect from Apple technology and out of IT. For more skilled users, self-enrollment and Self Service can be the best option. For less skilled users, more IT-driven or automated support could be the better fit — such as the use of device imaging and policy restrictions. Regardless of your environment, it’s likely you’ll need a tool that provides this wide range of options.

Create repeatable imaging workflows

Imaging is an important part of the device management workflow for deploying Mac in the enterprise. The image you start with lays the foundation for the user experience that will take place from the moment the user first touches the device to the time it is refreshed. If you are using the Casper Suite, make sure to consider all of the imaging options and pick the right one for your environment. In the Apple world, the factory Operating System can be a great place to start. Using a thin imaging workflow can be ideal for many corporate and one-to-one education deployments. The Casper Suite’s modular imaging capabilities provide a highly flexible and dynamic way to build custom packages, assemble them into libraries based on user and device attributes, and deploy relevant technology to each user based upon their needs. Modular imaging with the Casper Suite is highly repeatable and allows for a great balance between consistency and customization.

Take advantage of Apple programs

Over the last few years, Apple has made great strides in creating technologies for the enterprise that help guide best practices for managing Apple devices. For devices that are purchased from Apple or approved resellers, the Device Enrollment Program provides a best practice for zero-touch enrollment of new hardware. The Volume Purchase Program leads the way in deploying purchased App Store apps and managing app licenses. AppleCare’s Global Service Exchange is a great way to save costs on maintenance and support by automatically tracking hardware expiration dates. The App Store and Apple’s Software Update Server enable IT teams’ best practices for deploying and updating applications for users. Apple also provides FileVault 2 as a best practice technology for enforcing encryption of Mac computers. If you use the Casper Suite—which integrates with all of these programs—why not follow Apple’s lead and leverage these programs as best practice technologies for managing devices in your environment.

Follow the Self Service model

Much of today’s workforce is more capable and empowered with technology than ever before. More technically inclined users expect technology to be available and accessible at all times and expect to get what they need when they need it. In fact, the workforce requires these things to be productive and successful. Trends like employee choice, the commercialization of IT, cloud computing, and BYOD are all proof points that the workforce is ready to take the acquisition of technology into their own hands. Providing self-service tools for users can help meet their needs and keep them productive and happy. If you use the Casper Suite, adopt the self-service model to empower users to install their own software, apps, content, and settings on-demand—without disruption to their workflows—and empower users to support themselves by running their own maintenance tasks from Casper Suite Self Service. You won’t lose any control since everything they have access to was first packaged and compiled by you and the user does not need admin access to install software from Self Service, but you’ll give them the freedom and access they need.

To learn more about best practices check out JAMF Nation, the JAMF Software resources page, and, if you are in a one-to-one iPad education environment, check out this webinar.

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