Feedback to Apple on Enterpise Deployment for iPads

I sent this along to my Apple SE and Sales Rep today. After three weeks and 330 iPads, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is still bleeding edge stuff for Enterprise. iPad deployment is like PC deployment was back in the days before Ghost imaging. Painful. But I’ve got 384 happy kids with iPads so one tired IT Guy isn’t bad.

  1. Without a way to centrally add/delete/change iTunes accounts (ie. create 500 from a CSV file), the Apple proposal of assigning an account per iPad is not realistic. The VPP program is convoluted and not very practical.
  2. Tying an App to a User account vs. a device is a major problem in Enterprise deployment.
  3. Lion MDM looks interesting but there is no way to manage (add/delete/update) Apps on individual iPads or groups of iPads.
  4. Deployment via PowerSync Carts is a time consuming process, primarily because of the number of manual clicks involved in mass activation, using X-Code to deploy the iOS upgrade, the Restore from Backup and renaming steps. The inability to select multiple devices while doing this is also a problem. (am I missing something there?) The bottom line is that initial iPad provisioning is incredibly man power intensive and manual. Both bad things in the Enterprise
  5. The iPad 30-pin dock to VGA cable is basically unusable in the iPad2 because it won’t stay connected. A design flaw in the iPad2 thinness. Same issue with the PowerCart doc connectors. They do not connect as solidly as with the iPad 1
  6. The barcode labels on the 10-pack boxes are Huge! I was unable to scan them with my USB scanner. Also, it would be very nice if you could put barcodes of Serial Numbers on the individual cardbard that each iPad comes in, just from an unpacking and asset tracking perspective when dealing with hundreds of devices.
  7. Having to click three times to install an Config Profile on an iPad multiplied by hundreds of iPads gets old after a while.
  8. Syncing all 30 iPads in a PowerSync cart invariably left 3-5 iPads with sync errors and not fully sync’d
  9. OTA Syncing in iOS 5 will be great for Enterprise, as long as the user account associated with the sync is not required to be logged in on the iPad for the sync to take place and is not prompted for the password on the iPad for the apps to update, remove or install. Assuming we can sync more than 10 devices to a single itunes user account OTA.
  10. We need a bit for bit copy utility for iPads that works OTA so we can push a fully imaged iPad like netboot server over wireless.
I am planning to write up my entire iPad deployment experience at some point. I even have pictures. I just need to make the time. Have you deployed iPads? What do you think?