The Patten Solution – MDM For iPads That Works
I spent yesterday morning in a Mobile Device Management shootout listening to a series of MDM vendors tell me they all did basically the same thing when it comes to MDM on iPads. The reason, or blame, is Apple’s APIs. The fact of the matter is, the MDM solutions can pretty much only do what Apple lets them do, which is more or less the same thing. The vendors then tried to differentiate themselves with additional features. Teacher management portals seem pretty popular, except Teachers don’t really have time to learn another portal interface. Solution suites that can manage both desktop, laptop and mobile was the other route a couple of them took but if you are in the market for a solid iPad MDM solution, I really didn’t see a difference. That leaves cost. Each vendor solution presented, with the exception of one, had a cost, either in MDM licensing, or in Web Filtering bundled with MDM. The exception was Cisco Meraki (pains me to even write those two words together), which is free unless you want support, then you’re paying money.
There is an alternative. John Patten from Silvan Union School District in Modesto has developed a workflow and how-to for using Apple’s free MDM tools to manage iPads. From everything I’ve heard, and I have not deployed this myself yet, this solution should be good to go up to a few thousand iPads. For my potential K-1 deployment, that’s perfect. Some of the feedback I heard from John’s session at CETPA was that his session is what Apple should have run. Where Apple had no new answers for the continuing trouble with iPad deployment and management (read The Trouble With Tribbles and iPads Too if you forget how bad it was at the beginning), John apparently had answers for everything so I leave you with John’s presentation from yesterday and wish you luck, I’ll probably be going down this path over summer myself and look forward to hearing from anyone that tries it before me: Managing iOS Devices with Apple Profile Manager