Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The 5-Minute iPad Deployment!

Is it truly possible to deploy an iPad in 5 minutes? With some of the new tools at our disposal, we have now shortened the “user experience” to 5 minutes. OK, this is only looking at the deployment from the user’s perspective, once the iPad is actually in their hands, as there is still a great deal of back-end work that goes into iPad deployments, but the idea I am looking at is the “customer experience” for our staff and students.

How is this all possible? Thanks to continued innovation and adaptation by Apple and Apple partners such as JAMF, systems have been created to take some of the pain out of large-scale device and app deployments. For education customers, Apple has created the Device Enrollment Program that allows an iPad to be redirected to our new JAMF Casper Suite mobile device management system once the initial iPad setup process has been started. The user setup experience is then shortened to just a few questions which includes the user’s network username and password. As soon as the setup process completes, the iPad begins to install a fixed set of apps based on the user’s grade and school building (elementary school students), or the iPad will be configured to offer appropriate app downloads through a pre-installed “Self Service” app (for staff and middle school students).

The actual provisioning of iPad apps is preconfigured in our JAMF Casper system. The app provisioning is based on a combination of attributes our system knows about the iPad “owner” such as position (staff or student), grade level, and school building. iPad apps are reviewed and vetted by the instructional side of our Technology & Innovation Department in conjunction with our Curriculum & Instruction Department prior to being entered into our mobile device management system. With this technology, we can be assured that students all have the same apps available on their new LaunchPad iPads.

There are still a number of caveats to large-scale iPad deployments, such as a need for individual email accounts and Apple IDs for cloud-based backups and storage. There is also a need for all app vendors to get onboard with Apple’s updates and “tweak” their apps for device-based deployments.

Much has changed in the Barrington 220 technology department within the last decade. Where we once managed a few thousand computing devices, we now manage over 10,000 devices. The automation tools described here provide many of the resources we need to lower the time spent supporting each individual computer or iPad.

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