The Basics of MDM


If you’ve never heard of a mobile device management (MDM) solution or how it works, and this is your first Apple device deployment, you’re in the right place. Our Development and Customer Success teams got together to round up all the information you need to learn the basics about MDM.

In this article, you'll learn what MDM software is, how it works, and how it can help you deploy Apple devices.

What is a mobile device management solution?

An MDM solution provides IT professionals with tools to deploy, monitor, and manage devices – such as iPhones, iPads, and Mac computers – in certain environments. It is typically used in settings like companies, universities, schools, and districts, which all deploy a number of devices to their employees or students.

Features most MDM solutions offer include:

How does an MDM solution work?

An MDM solution works by communicating with the Apple Push Notification (APNs) Certificate. That’s why creating your APNs Certificate is the first step in setting up an MDM solution for your Apple devices.

To demonstrate this, let’s go through the process of setting up Mosyle Manager. Mosyle Manager is an MDM solution that collaborates and integrates with Apple’s education features and deployment programs, making it ideal for school and district IT services. The Push Certificate establishes a trusted connection between your iOS mobile devices and Mosyle’s domain. Only through this connection will iPads receive the commands you create within Mosyle Manager.

After you create your Push Certificate, you can continue with the other steps of the deployment: enrolling and managing the devices. When you enroll the device into the Mosyle server, a management profile is installed on each device.

Now, with the combination of the APNs Certificate and enrollment, you’re ready to start configuring and managing your school’s Apple devices.

One other note: As we explained, communication between the Mosyle Manager server, APNs, and the devices allows you to apply commands. This communication happens through the network connection. Thus, it is essential to configure the network properly to get the most of your MDM solution.

Do MDM solutions help in every step of Apple device deployment in schools?

The toolsets of MDM solutions should always help IT professionals every step of the way during the device deployment. A powerful MDM solution will not only be beneficial to the IT staff, but also to teachers. Without this, it will be very difficult to achieve the goal of improving the learning experience through technology in the classroom – right?

Mosyle Manager provides both the IT Staff and teachers with the ability to ensure students are making the most out of their iPad/other devices in a secure and effective way. The IT staff gains unique tools to protect and manage their Apple device inventory and remotely set the devices up. The teacher gains teaching time by simply using easy tools to remotely manage the devices during class.

The device deployment process with MDM solutions

We’ve gone through what MDM solutions do and how to set them up, but how does the nitty gritty of the deployment process work?

Setting up and deploying your Apple devices with MDM solutions looks different depending on which MDM solution and setup you’re using. Let’s take a look at how Mosyle Manager works with the process of deployment, along with some other potential solutions.


Click the icons to learn more about each step

Enrollment

Enrolling your Apple devices is a key step in deploying them. In this process, the devices will be linked to the MDM server, and then be assigned to the users – either teachers or students.

This stage can be difficult, so it's critical to analyze the best enrollment method according to your school scenario. Sometimes, it's beneficial to invest time learning about each method before starting this process. This will help you plan the smoothest enrollment possible.

If your school has a DEP account, enrolling devices will be easier with MDM integration. Mosyle Manager provides an intuitive interface to streamline this task. Another method to enroll the devices, if your school does not have a DEP account, is to use the Apple Configurator 2 application.

Apple Configurator 2 runs only on macOS computers and supports IT professionals to supervise and enroll devices in MDM servers. If this is what you’re using to enroll your device, you can choose the Automated Enrollment to make the process fast and easy.

The enrollment of devices in a shared environment has its own specificities. Most MDM solutions offer the creation of groups for devices after enrollment. Here at Mosyle, we simplified this procedure with a dynamic enrollment process that auto-assigns the device to the shared cart. You can check out all the enrollment methods available for Mosyle Manager in our Getting Started Guide available for customers.

Content Distribution

When we talk about deploying devices in school and districts, content – such as applications and iBooks – could be seen as the heart of educational technology. Thus, we need to make sure it is functional – right?

The MDM solution should support the flow of content and ensure this constancy by automatically pushing, installing, and updating the apps and iBooks. It must, therefore, have a toolset to streamline content delivery and management. This helps IT staff take care of content distribution quickly and painlessly.

Using Mosyle Manager, you can easily integrate the Volume Purchase Program (VPP) and manage all the licenses of your school or district. It is then possible to create Install Apps profiles to distribute it to grade levels, or even to a single student. Teachers can also distribute applications through the Study Apps feature within Mosyle Manager.

Management and Commands

The IT Staff has done an incredible job by enrolling the devices in the MDM server, and now it is time to really manage the devices. If the technology team of a school or a district set up and configured each one of the devices manually, it would take so long… so, so long. MDM solutions solve this issue by offering tools to remotely apply restrictions through management profiles.

With an MDM solution, IT professionals can set up the devices with zero-touch and apply some configurations such as Allowed and Blocked Apps, Home Layout, Web Filter, Wallpaper, Wifi Authentication, and more. All the commands can be applied according to time-based policies, ensuring they will work only during class time.

Since Mosyle Manager was built for school structure and hierarchy, its management tools were designed to meet both IT staff’s and teachers’ needs. All the commands are applied quickly to devices, because teachers cannot afford to lose teaching time. The shared management allows the IT staff to configure the devices and teachers to manage their students’ devices during the class.

Inventory and Monitoring

Without an MDM solution, you won’t be able to get all the important information about your school’s devices. Not to mention, it will be almost impossible to follow all the information in real-time.

MDM provides you with details such as model, applied profiles, assigned user, device storage and battery level, serial number, OS version, and apps installed. In addition, you can receive alerts if something goes wrong – a student has disabled the MDM, there is no Internet connection, or a device is jailbroken, for example.

Device management solutions like Mosyle Manager allow IT Admins to add tags and organize the device information to make the management easier. It's also important to have a big picture about all the applications delivered and managed, which is why we created the App Center (still in its beta) feature.

MDM Solutions in the Classroom

Teachers should be empowered to manage technology in the classroom; otherwise, device usage can harm students’ learning experiences. The tools used by the teachers during class must both increase the teaching time and reduce stress in a high-tech classroom.

Keeping this in mind, Apple released the Classroom App last year, and they continue to work on major improvements to ensure teachers and students get the most out of the learning experience using iPads. Some MDM solutions also offer capabilities for being used in the classroom.

Mosyle Manager sets itself as an exceptional MDM solution in this area. It was not adapted to the educational environment; all its features were built from scratch in order to meet school and district needs. It also has an entire space within the application with MDM tools for teachers.

Using Mosyle Manager, teachers can view students’ Mac screens and take screenshots of them. They are allowed to create Study Apps and Study Sites lists, and also apply App Locks to ensure students will be on the same page during the lesson. Powerful, isn't it?

Get started with your deployment… using Mosyle Manager!

Now that you understand more about how MDM solutions work and how they help you deploy Apple devices, it’s time to get started with your deployment.

If you’re looking for an MDM solution for your school or district, it’s worth giving Mosyle Manager a try. Open your account and check out our step-by-step tutorials to make enrolling, managing, and deploying your devices a breeze!

We believe there's a better way to manage Apple Devices in Schools and Districts

Get up and running within minutes! Sign up using your school or district email