What is Apple Configurator?
Apple Configurator, the successor of iPhone Configuration Utility, is a macOS application developed by Apple Inc. for fast and easy deployment of Apple devices in various organizations. With Apple Configurator, one can prepare, assign and supervise iOS devices such as iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Apple TV using physical USB hubs. Apple Configurator coupled with Device Enrollment Program (DEP) automates MDM enrollment and Volume Purchase Program (VPP) to seamlessly manage iOS devices.
Apple Configurator allows the administrator to create profiles or configurations such as password policy, restrictions, Wi-Fi, VPN, and so on. These profiles are added to a template device known as Blueprint which can be further pushed to the devices. Remember, a physical USB connection between your device and a Mac OS X computer is required for every action that is to be performed on your device.
How does Apple Configurator benefit businesses?
With Apple Configurator, you can supervise your devices and add them to DEP (Apple devices running iOS 11 or later) allowing additional controls such as silent app installation, web content filtering, lock devices in single or multi app mode, set up Global HTTP Proxy and much more. It enables you to configure various device features and settings which include installing configuration profiles and apps, exporting documents and device information, updating software etc. Apple Configurator allows multiple Blueprint creation for adding configuration profiles and apps which can be applied to the device using one click. It is available globally on all Mac devices and provides fast deployment of iOS devices as compared to that of Apple’s Device Enrollment Program (DEP).
Is Apple Configurator noteworthy?
Apple Configurator is ideally suited for organizations where the devices to be deployed is very less. However, when it comes to large organizations looking for hands-off approach for their large number of devices, Apple Configurator fails in managing such scenarios. Apple Configurator can manage and control only a maximum of 30 devices at a single time. The various operations such as updating software, configuring profiles and apps etc., through Apple Configurator can be executed on the devices only if there is a physical connection between the devices and a Mac OS X computer. This means that every time a device needs to be updated or re-configured, it must be connected to the Mac OS X computer using USB hubs.
Furthermore, Apple Configurator may not be apt if personal devices (BYOD devices) are employed in your enterprise. This is because a device connected for the first-time using Apple Configurator is wiped and restored to its factory settings before applying any configurations. All personal data and content available on your devices shall be wiped and lost.
MDM over Apple Configurator
Apple Configurator does not provide a practical solution for bulk deployment of iOS devices. Third-party Mobile Device Management (MDM) software can provide hassle-free solutions to seamlessly manage large number of devices. Enterprise Mobility can be perfectly managed using MDM solutions such as Hexnode with its feature-rich capabilities and hands-off approach.
MDM software packages possess the ability to control and manage configurations in the devices over-the-air (wirelessly) as compared to wired communications in the case of Apple Configurator. Various actions such as lock, wipe and location tracking can be performed remotely with the help of MDM software which is not possible with Apple Configurator. With MDM, apps can be installed, configured, secured, updated or removed whereas app management using Apple Configurator is confined to installation of apps only. Apart from these features, MDM can restrict the device to function in specific work mode known as kiosk mode to display only prescribed set of apps to be accessed by the user.
Hexnode is a powerful and emerging mobility management solution to manage devices, apps and content from a centralized platform using remote, wireless and batch operations. It allows bulk enrollment of iOS devices without involving any physical connection between the devices. Hexnode’s BYOD integration made it possible to manage personal devices without compromising the privacy of personal data and content. A wide range of monitoring and reporting features for auditing can be enabled using Hexnode which is not available when devices are managed using Apple Configurator. Hexnode helps to ensure whether the devices meet the company policies or not and take immediate remedial actions for non-compliant devices.
Apple Configurator is best suited for organizations such as schools and small businesses where the total number of iOS devices to be deployed is small. However, Apple Configurator as a standalone creates a burden on the IT administrators since a physical connection through USB hubs is mandatory for every configuration that is to be pushed to the device. An MDM software such as Hexnode with its feature rich functionality and hands-off approach offers comprehensive solutions over-the-air for efficient management of iOS devices.