Apple @ Work: Grading Apple’s 2021 enterprise upgrades with a look ahead to 2022

apple-@-work:-grading-apple’s-2021-enterprise-upgrades-with-a-look-ahead-to-2022

Apple @ Work is brought to you by Mosyle, the leader in modern mobile device management (MDM) and security for Apple enterprise and education customers. Over 28,000 organizations leverage Mosyle solutions to automate the deployment,  management and security of millions of Apple devices daily. Request a FREE account today and discover how you can put your Apple fleet on auto-pilot at a price point that is hard to believe.

As we begin a new year, I wanted to look back at 2021 to see what all Apple launched in the enterprise and judge its impact on users and IT admins in 2022. So here’s my 2021 Apple enterprise report card.

About Apple @ Work: Bradley Chambers managed enterprise IT network from 2009 to 2021. Through his experience deploying and managing firewalls, switches, a mobile device management system, enterprise-grade Wi-Fi, 100s of Macs, and 100s of iPads, Bradley will highlight ways in which Apple IT managers deploy Apple devices, build networks to support them, train users, stories from the trenches of IT management, and ways Apple could improve its products for IT departments.


New Apple Upgrade Program for businesses

A few weeks ago, 9to5Mac reported that Apple has partnered with CIT to begin offering laptop upgrades every 90 days for business customers. I’ve been very vocal with my love of Apple Silicon, and the pace of improvements is staggering.

From an accounting perspective, lease/rentals of technology can also be easier on budgets as it becomes an operating expense instead of a capital expenditure. These frequent updates should be a wash from an accounting perspective, assuming users don’t upgrade models. If you manage teams of software engineers, faster laptops can mean massive time savings, so they end up paying for themselves with increased productivity – an engineer at Reddit confirmed this idea recently as well.

I give this announcement an A+, and I hope they eventually offer it in-house and bring it to consumers over Apple Card.

Apple Business Essentials

In November, Apple announced Apple Business Essentials. I was blown away when I first saw the service. Apple has created a turn-key solution for enterprises with under 500 employees. I believe it’ll open up a lot of small-to-medium-sized businesses to the world of device management, and they ultimately might choose to move to a more dedicated solution in the future. Still, Apple is sending the message to all businesses that device management is essential.

Apple can secure work and personal devices (with protections to keep personal data private) for all employees.

The service I am most excited about is onsite device repairs when businesses subscribe to AppleCare+ for Apple Business Essentials. Hardware repairs in remote work environments are a challenge. Employees don’t have the option of running to the onsite help desk for a spare computer, etc. With this service, employees can get repairs done quickly by authorized technicians.

I also give this announcement an A+ as it shows Apple is responding to the needs of businesses in a new work environment.

FaceTime upgrades

Many enterprises have primarily standardized Zoom for video conferencing, but there is still a lot of room for innovation here. While I don’t see Apple building out an enterprise competitor to Zoom, I like the upgrades it made in 2021 to make it more useful for business without a dedicated video solution. These upgrades include adding FaceTime links to calendar appointments and web access for Android and PC.

I rate this addition a B+ for Apple’s enterprise customers.

Low power mode on Mac

New with macOS Monterey, Low Power mode should be beneficial for business travelers. It reduces system clock speed and display brightness to extend battery life when it’s enabled.

This feature is rated A+ as anything to extend battery life is beneficial.

Erase all content and settings

For Apple IT admins, having the option to erase all content and settings on macOS is a game-changer for device rollouts. When a device is ready to be decommissioned, you’ll be able to send a command over your mobile device management system to securely wipe user data from the machine without needing to reinstall the OS. Reinstalling macOS can easily take an hour and requires a manual process, so Erase All Content and Settings will allow massive time savings for larger deployments.

I don’t know if it’s possible to give a feature higher than A+, but I will make one up – A+++++++.

Declarative MDM

Apple’s new MDM technology promises to make managing iPads, iPhones, and Macs easier than ever in the enterprise and K–12. The current MDM protocol in use today is “imperative and reactive,” which means that it’s very server-centric. An MDM solution pushes profiles and software to managed devices, but they can not think and act for themselves. This model has worked well for years, but it is slow. New changes can have time lags because they rely on round-trip communications between the iOS/macOS/tvOS and the MDM server. If you’ve ever sat and waited on an iPad to receive a configuration change from the server, you know that this process can see slowdowns with no insight into why.

Declarative MDM brings some of the responsibility for policy implementation down to the devices themselves, which should lighten the load on the MDM server in turn.

A practical example of this is if you push a new requirement to reset a login password to the device that requires a user to take action, once it’s done, the device can report that status right away back to the MDM server rather than waiting on the device to check in later (or force a check-in).

I also rate this addition as A+ as it begins the next generation of MDM technology.

Apple Configurator for iPhone

With Apple Configurator for iPhone, it’s now going to be possible to load Macs not purchased directly from Apple or authorized reseller into your Apple Business Manager and Apple School Manager using just your iPhone. It’s part of the new Apple Configurator app for iPhone. Once you sign into the app with a Managed Apple ID, you’ll be able to load a Mac into your ABM or ASM account during the setup process and avoid using Apple Configurator on the Mac.

This addition will be fantastic for times when you need to run to Best Buy due to a damaged device, or if you find a great deal on a MacBook Air from Amazon, you can purchase it and then sideload it into your ABM account using just your iPhone.

I give this feature a B+ because it’s not as valuable as it would have been before remote work, but it’s still beneficial.

Wrap up

From reading this list, Apple launched many specific features for its enterprise customers, including its end users. macOS Monterey and iOS 15 included many features that business users will find beneficial. Apple also launched a handful of minor and significant features that continue to set the foundation for years to come. Apple laid out 11 reasons to use a Mac at work, and while I don’t agree with all of them, there are a lot more than 11 when you break it down. Apple continues to be the best technology partner in the enterprise for end-users and IT admins. I am looking for a lot of exciting Apple announcements in 2022 as enterprises continue to deploy Macs and iPads.

Apple @ Work is brought to you by Mosyle, the leader in modern mobile device management (MDM) and security for Apple enterprise and education customers. Over 28,000 organizations leverage Mosyle solutions to automate the deployment,  management and security of millions of Apple devices daily. Request a FREE account today and discover how you can put your Apple fleet on auto-pilot at a price point that is hard to believe.

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