There are three big topics that generate the most frequently asked questions for our support team and they revolve around VPP, DEP and APNs. I like alphabet soup as much as the next person, but it can get pretty confusing when you are trying to understand how those terms relate to Apple mobile device management. Let’s take a look at these acronyms and what they mean:
APNs stands for Apple Push Notification service. An APNs certificate allows Bushel to communicate with your devices. When MDM commands need to be sent to your managed devices, APNs tells your devices to check in. The MDM then sends any new commands or notifications to the devices you have enrolled. APNs maintains a constant connection with your devices, allowing Bushel to manage your devices collectively.
VPP stands for Volume Purchase Program. VPP allows you to buy apps in volume from the App Store, sync them with Bushel, and deploy them to your devices. Apps purchased through VPP are owned by the company that the VPP account is associated with. The company retains the licenses for the apps and can redistribute them to new employees or devices. VPP can be used to deploy apps to users with an Apple ID or directly to devices without an Apple ID.
DEP stands for Apple’s Device Enrollment Program. Using DEP, your Mac and iOS devices will automatically enroll in Bushel the first time they are turned on. DEP also enables over the air Supervision for iOS, which is a special mode that unlocks deeper device management capabilities. Devices might be eligible for DEP when ordered through Apple or authorized resellers who support DEP.
Bushel is a software startup that provides better ways to setup and secure Apple devices. We don’t have a brick and mortar retail location. But my first job was managing retail POS systems back in the 90s and I’ve had a lot of friends who had retail locations over the years. And they’ve taught me some things. These things may or may not be appropriate for your organization, but they’re worth checking out!
Start Now! You might be doing all of the things that we discuss in this article. You might have thought about some, but we trigger a reminder. You also might be thinking of new strategies for the first time. Wherever you are, the quicker you get started implementing, the more beneficial and purposeful your strategies will seem. 53% of holiday shoppers will be done shopping by December 10th!
Check out the latest holiday trends. In your market, or micro-market, what are people shopping for? This might mean visiting your competition, window shopping at the big box stores, checking out what categories Amazon is really pushing, or even watching the dreaded commercials you’ve been skipping since the Tivo era. Of course, we should always go with our gut on what to stock, sell, and promote. But seeing what everyone else is doing might help to fortify your position (after all, it’s important to stand out), or it could make you think of something new to add to your inventory, promoted in your own way of course!
Small Business Saturday has come and passed but Bushel encourages you to go ahead and mark your calendar for November 26th, 2016 and November 25th, 2017. As a small business, this is your time to shine. American Express and a number of other organizations can help to drive business your way. And of course, the point of the thing is all about you!
Take any old form of payment. Chipped cards, American Express, Discover, cash. Don’t limit your business because you don’t take a certain form of payment. Within reason, of course! There are so many vendors supplying credit card options including Square, PayPal Here, QuickBooks GoPayment, and so many others, that accepting credit cards is simple these days. The worlds wide open for online sales as well, allowing you to take about any old credit card.
Get a Loyalty Program. If you haven’t already found a way to incentivize your customers, check out Belly. Belly is a loyalty rewards program that can appeal to businesses and consumers alike. For more on Belly, check out https://www.bellycard.com! You can also use the good, old fashioned punch cards and stamps on cards. You know, buy ten, get one free type of stuff. The great thing about a program like Belly though, is you get an online presence driving business your way.
If you are brick and mortar, sell online. I talk to a lot of people who have managed to successfully take a traditional brick and mortar into 7 figures worth of new business opportunities by selling inventory online. Most would have already explored this. And options range from getting listed as an Amazon seller, posting items to eBay, or even building your own shopping cart using a myriad of available tools. Building your own solution isn’t nearly as expensive or complicated as it used to be. Getting help with that is about as competitive as one of those intersections with a matress store on all 4 corners. It can be as simple as getting a store on a site like Etsy. And if you’re an online seller, get a brick and mortar partner (or location, but partner is much simpler).
Personalize the customer experience. Would Norm have kept showing up at Cheers if they didn’t know his name? Maybe. But they did. Personalizing a customer experience can be as simple as actually remembering a customers name and preferences. 86% of customers are willing to spend 25% more for a more customized experience. If you have a site, it can also be as simple as remembering what they like to shop for or putting nice things for people on your site. Nordstrom, Ikea, Target (think Cartwheel), even Walgreens are into this kind of thing. There are companies like Umbel who are revolutionizing this industry. But it doesn’t have to be expensive. Look for someone who fits with the look, feel, and size of your organization. If a price makes you balk, then by all means, keep looking for a solution to help you automate this. Or at least, do so once you can’t remember everyone’s name any more. But do make sure to tell everyone happy holidays. As a consumer I’m sure you love that too!
Partner up with a non-profit. When I read Louis Gerstner’s iconic Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance, one of my favorite parts was at the very end when Gerstner covered how he transformed the ways that IBM gave to help the community. He was a great CEO for his time, and he had a much more mature outlook on giving back than many. He wanted IBM staff to be in the community, involved, transforming the community no only with cash from the company, but also with the expertise they brought to the table. Many of their outreach programs from his tenure at IBM in the early 90s are alive and well today, continuing to impact communities across the world. If you are a small retailer, consider partnering with a local non-profit, rather than the easy choice of working with a large non-profit. Partnering with an organization with similar values is great. I prefer not to think about something like this driving business to me. It’s about community. But during the holiday season, retailers have so little time that many of these efforts end up getting mixed up. The easy way to get involved here, is to tithe a certain percentage of profits for a limited time to a non-profit. Another way is to get out there and do something meaningful. Yet another is a food or collection drive at your location. It’s all great stuff, and whatever cause you choose to support is likely to be happy to have the help and attention you can bring.
Gift cards are a great way to let your loyal customers help you find more customers. 83% of companies use employee incentives and those customers can return, not to mention they’ll spend money. Gift cards also drive more than $100 billion in revenue annually. Overall, gift cards can drive business your way and getting relationships with companies can be a great way to make some quick revenue! Consider gift card discounts, and using them to promote bundles. A great way to get started with gift cards is Clover. And Clover gives you access to Gyft, a great way to leverage another organization’s gift card selection to drive business your way.
Promotions. I’ve never been a huge fan of sales. Some types of businesses need to use them. I get that. But I typically figure that if something is on sale, I can always get it at that price, because I now know the margin the vendor has. Promotions don’t mean the same thing as sales, or discounts. Promotions might mean that you have Santa Claus in your store and are giving away free prints of photos. Or a promotion might mean that you’re giving double the loyalty points for a limited period of time. By taking an actual price reduction off the table and providing more services using a given code, you’re bound to provide a better experience to your customer and give you a good reason to post something on a site like Retail Me Not or Coupons.com.
Keep in mind that getting listed with sites like Gyft, Coupons.com, Retail Me Not, Etsy, Belly, and many other great sites will drive long-term business your way. How? Well, those links to your site makes it easier for search engines to find ya’! Most excellent.
Good luck this holiday season. So much you can do, so little time. Prioritize what makes the most sense to you. And kill it this holiday season. If you found this article, you darn well deserve it!
And of course, whatever apps you load up to help your business succeed. Make it easier to maintain them and keep them secure with Bushel.
We are always working hard to enhance Bushel. Sometimes the changes are subtle. Sometimes, like today, the changes are much more substantial. Today, we released Blueprints and Bushel will never be the same – in a good way.
One of the biggest feature requests we receive is to be able to deploy different settings to different devices. While you can use Bushel to configure settings like Email, device security, and Wi-Fi networks, those same settings have always been applied to all devices.
We’ve heard your feedback and we’re doing something about it! With the new Blueprints framework in Bushel, you can now define different settings for different devices.
Configuring a Blueprint is (nearly) identical to what configuring Settings was like in Bushel of yesterday. In fact, your existing Settings have been automatically converted into “Blueprint 1.” All of your currently-enrolled devices are linked to this single Blueprint. That means nothing has changed for your current deployment.
With a click, you can create a second Blueprint. Or third, or more! Name it, customize it, deploy it. You can add devices to your new Blueprint. Mix and match Settings to your heart’s content. But we didn’t stop there.
Blueprints can be selected by new users during Open Enrollment, giving flexibility to your deployments out of the box. You can also make certain Blueprints private, hiding them from Open Enrollment and make them available only via a direct Open Enrollment link. You can even preassign Blueprints to devices before they come out of the box by integrating with Apple’s Device Enrollment Program.
To illustrate the potential of Blueprints, consider a scenario where some devices need a passcode and others do not. Or the scenario where some devices need the secure Wi-Fi network for the San Francisco office while other devices need the secure Wi-Fi network for the Cupertino office. With Blueprints in Bushel, you can mix and match settings to build as many different configurations as needed to support your deployment.
In short, Blueprints provide a flexible framework that makes Bushel even more helpful in more environments. We are excited to see how Bushel’s new Blueprint feature can help even more organizations transform their business with Apple technology.
Login to your Bushel account to explore Blueprints. You can also read more about Blueprints at our Help Center.
Enter Apple Configurator 2, a free tool on the Mac App Store. This tool basically fixes most setup challenges for iOS, but does so over USB. This means that Apple Configurator is not a replacement for Bushel. In fact, we get a lot of questions from experienced Apple administrators about how to use profiles that we don’t yet support. So Apple Configurator is great way to get settings on devices that you don’t need to update over the air (e.g. initial setup options). Apple Configurator 2 is a tool that can help to manage iOS devices during a mass deployment and do so in a manner that is easy enough that you don’t need a firm background in IT to manage devices on a day-to-day basis.
Here is what Apple Configurator can do:
Update iOS devices to the latest version of iOS.
Rename devices using a numbered scheme (e.g. iPad 1, iPad 2, etc).
Erase (wipe) iOS devices.
Backup and Restore iOS devices.
Deploy profiles/policies (e.g. no Siri for you, disable cameras, setup wireless, etc) to iOS devices.
Activate devices (after all a restore of a freshly activated device is an activation).
Push any kind of app to devices.
Track Volume Purchase Program (VPP) codes used on devices.
Manage the wallpaper on “Supervised” devices (more on supervision later).
Manage the names of devices en masse.
Load content to apps on devices.
Skip initial Activation steps on devices.
Apple Configurator 2 does have some caveats, including the following:
In order to push apps through Apple Configurator, the system running Configurator needs access to Apple’s servers and Apple Configurator needs an AppleID associated with it that is not the VPP facilitator if you are leveraging any paid apps.
You can use Apple Configurator “off-line” or without an AppleID to Prepare devices with Profiles, just not to Activate devices. For the initial device activation process, Macs running Apple Configurator will need to be online. Additionally, you’ll be prompted to enter your Apple ID routinely.
If you push Trust and Enrollment profiles to automatically join an MDM, the device isn’t associated with a user unless the MDM has been prepped to designate each UDID or Serial Number to a given user. Bushel doesn’t yet support mass enrollment in this fashion but will.
If you accidentally plug in your iPhone to a machine and you’re using Apple Configurator on it and you’ve chosen to Erase in the application, then it will wipe your phone along with the 30 iPads you’re wiping. It’s awesome and scary like that (yes, I’ve accidentally wiped my phone).
I see a number of uses for Apple Configurator. Some of these use cases include:
Company and education labs: manage devices end-to-end (no MDM, iTunes iPhone Configuration Utility or other tools needed), managed by the lab manager.
One-to-One environments (schools): Manage the distribution of infrastructure settings (mail, wireless networks, etc) for devices as well as Trust Profiles to make it faster to enroll in MDM environments and Web Clips to manage the links for enrollment.
Device distribution: Pre-load applications (that can’t be updated unless they’re cradled again), renaming, profiles, activation, iOS software updates, etc.
Backup and Restore only stations where you don’t interfere with later iTunes use.
These can enhance practically every environment I’ve worked with. But unless it’s a small environment (e.g. the labs), Apple Configurator isn’t a replacement for the tools already in use in most cases, like an MDM solution. Instead, it just makes things better. Overall, Apple Configurator 2 is a welcome addition to the bat belt that we all have for iOS management and deployment. Now that we’ve looked at the when/where of using it, let’s look at the how.
At this point, we’ll explore the Profiles options in Apple Configurator 2. To create profiles, use the File menu and click on New Profile.
At the Untitled profile name, enter a name in the Name field. This is how it will appear in the Profiles section of Apple Configurator. Because you can deploy multiple profiles, I’m just going to configure the SSID and Web Clip and call it MDM Enrollment Staging. Optionally, give it some notes, organization name, etc.
Click on Wi-Fi and then click on the Configure button. Here, enter the SSID of the deployment network (MDMEnroll in this example). We’ll use the Hidden Network field to indicate the SSID is suppressed and we’ll use the network type of WEP and throw the password into the Password field as well. Now, before we move on, notice that there’s a plus and minus sign in the top right of the screen? You can deploy multiple of each, so if you have 10 wireless networks, 4 Email accounts, 9 VPN connections, 29 SSL Certs etc, you could deploy them all easily with multiple entries of each.
Next, we’ll go ahead and enter a name for our Web Clip and the URL that the device will point to.
We’ll also disable certain features of iOS. To do so, click on Restrictions, and uncheck various boxes in order to disable features you don’t wish to use.
Go ahead and close the window and you’ll be prompted to save the profile.
You’ll then see MDM Enrollment Staging.mobileconfig in the Finder where you selected to store it.
Apple Configurator 2 is really a great tool when used in the right scenarios. In learning how it works and interacts I actually learned a lot about both iOS and Mac OS X that I didn’t know before. I hope I did the tool justice with how easy it is to use. This is a fairly long article and it’s probably more complicated than it needs to be in parts, but that’s more my method of trying to figure out what it’s doing than the tool being complicated. It’s not hard to figure out at all. I am sure I could teach any non-technical iOS admin basic use of Apple Configurator 2 in less than an hour.
Overall, in Apple Configurator 2, we have a new, powerful iteration in our arsenal that makes up the iOS administration ecosystem. I also hope that no matter what, if you manage iOS devices, that you’ll take a look at it. I expect you’ll find it useful in some part of your management toolkit!