Apple Configurator vs. MDM

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Is Apple Configurator a cheap substitute fo true Mobile Device Management? Or is it something else entirely? We hope this comparison answers the question.

Some notes: when we write "MDM", we are speaking about the combination of ActiveSync, MobileConfig Profiles, and Apple's interface for MDM commands that is used by most vendors in our Comparison of MDM Providers.

Apple Configurator is listed twice, since it can be used in two different ways. Devices can be unsupervised -- which means the are simply prepared for deployment -- or supervised, something altogether different.

This is a wiki page. Since we expect all these technologies to mature, we hope you help us keep this page accurate and up-to-date.

  MDM Configurator (unsupervised) Configurator (supervised)
Installation web page or (sometimes) app USB USB
Delivery of Updates OTA Push USB from original computer USB from original computer
Multi-user devices? No No Yes, with short backup-and-restore cycle
Set up mobileconfig restrictions, web clips, email, VPN, etc.? Yes, with push updates and changes Yes, only during initial config Yes, only during initial config
Update iOS No Yes Yes
Set Lock Screen Image No Yes, with optional device name Yes, with device and/or user name and/or user photo
Set Wallpaper No Yes Yes
Install free apps Yes Yes Yes
Owner (Apple ID) of free apps End User Installer Installer
Install Paid Apps with VPP Codes Yes Yes Yes
Owner of Paid Apps End-User ? Device
Revokable and Reuse VPP Codes? No Yes (if device erased by ACfg) Yes
Passwords entries needed for N app installs on a single device? N (most implementations) or 1 (some implementations) 0 0
Can push documents? Not through MDM (some have companion app) Yes, as part of initial image Yes, per-user docs backed up and saved
Query installed apps Yes No No
Remote Wipe Yes No No
Ideal for BYOD and/or widely-dispersed users Initial configuration and deployments, especially when paired with MDM Classrooms, loaner units, trainings, kiosks

Send custom settings together with OTA plist manifest?

curiouscat76's picture
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Is there any way to distribute application (ipa) related custom settings on the time of IPA installation?
Our application should connect to the server what can have different IP addresses defined by admin,

We are looking for the way to send this as a parameter. As far i understand wireless plist manifest can not provide any values besides of ipa url, icons, md5 etc, we can not provide any additional plist files on the time of installation too.

Configuration profile installed same time can not set custom application parameters, is it right? It can only setup some predefined values, the only thing can be used (seems) is webclip as a shortcut (executing custom URL schema with the parameters appname://url=...). But we rather interested in a way our application can receive URL without webclip shortcut, if this is something we can get from configuration profile or any other source it would be nice to know..


EAS and CAS servers

mattfusf's picture
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We are seeing some strange results with a few of our iOS users and thought someone here would have an idea.

We have two AD domains and are trying both Afaria and Airwatch. Both domains are in the same forest; each has their own set of Exchange servers but are under the same GAL, etc.

With Afaria, users on either domain are able to get to EAS via the Afaria ISAPI filter.

With Airwatch, we've implemented the similar secure email gateway. Users on the domain where the CAS server is located can use EAS, however, users on the other domain cannot. In fact, after enrollment, the Exchange information on the iOS device changes to the external address of the Afaria mail gateway from the Airwatch gateway.

I'm guessing somewhere there is a hardcoded address in our Exchange configuration, but am at a loss as to where to look.

Any suggestions?



Customized MDM Apps

Mark.Spencer's picture
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I am looking to deploy an MDM solution on IOS. One of the requirements is tracking of GPS. My research suggests that providers need to have an application on the device to collect this information. Does anyone know which vendors support customization of an MDM app with my companies logo and information?

- Mark

How to disable the iPad's home button, enable "Store Demo Mode" for kiosks

Your rating: None (7 votes)

Zach Christopoulos has published instructions to disable an iPad's home button. His method is very clean, and converts any app into a kiosk mode. The device does not need to be jailbroken.

The steps are very simple, using a custom mobile configuration plist.

  1. Install a special profile onto the iPad
  2. Reboot
  3. Launch any app

The iPad is now locked into the first app launched after reboot. To launch a new app, reboot first. To remove the profile, reboot, then launch Settings, then choose "Profiles", and remove the profile. Finally, reboot again.

[Update: Works on iPhones too, unsurprisingly.]

The identity certificate for mdm profile could not be found

zahidmaqbool's picture
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I was trying to develop a MDM solution for iOS and I would like to test MDM with both methods of distributing device identity via PKCS12 and SCEP. Currently I am doing it using PKCS12, so here is what I am doing:

1. Send a Profile Service profile to the device asking its device id, IMEI, Version etc.
2. Device responds with the requested attribute - signed using the Apple Provided Certificate.
3. I now issue a PKCS12 certificate to the device using the credentials payload.
4. Device responds again with its attributes - this time signed using the above certificate.
5. I deliver an MDM payload setting the IdentityCertificateUUID to the payload UUID of the certificate issued in step 3.

I get profile could not be installed. Upon examining the logs, I found out the error The identity certificate for mdm profile could not be found.

If at Step 5, I issue the MDM profile with a new certificaate included in the payload everything works. I am not sure if this is the right way to issue another certificate. I was thinking to utilize the same certificate issued at Step 3.

I think I am doing something wrong here and this may not be the correct way. Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks.

Update Ipad Via 3G Network

danialmcgreevy's picture
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We are predominantly a Microsoft house but we have just purchased 50 Ipad’s for our branches. We need to put new apps on the Ipad’s and currently this involved getting all 50 Ipad’s sent back to HO for us to update via a USB. This is a tiresome solution and hopefully this forum may be able to shed some light on how we can do this remotely. Therefore the question i have is this, can a Ipad’s be updated remotely via a 3G network?

Some things to consider when answering this:

The Ipad’s have not been made domain members
We do not have WIFI in the branches
We do not have any "fat client" machines in branch with iTunes installed
The Ipad’s is locked down for our branch users

Many thanks is advance


App query of MDM

maloninc's picture
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Have you ever get any troubles when you queried app installed in devices by MDM
because MDM get only app name and app bundle ID such as iBooks and
In fact what we really want to know is not app name and bundle ID but URL of the app in AppStore.

Therefore, I made search system for that.

MDM App Search

Please free to use it, and I'm welcome your feedback.

Lion Server APNS Certificate

fatbas's picture
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I'm making a PHP MDM server and I have a concern about the CSR signing process (Vendor Action).

I would like to know if I can sign a customer CSR with the APNS Certificate that I got with OSX Lion Server and return the encoded plist to the customer?

I tried but I got an "invalid signature" from .

I don't know if it's caused by my signing code or the Certificate itself.

Currently I'm not enrolled in the Enterprise Program. I'm enrolled as Individual so I can't create a MDM Certificate from the portal that's why I used the MDM Certificate created with OsX Lion Server.

Thank you

Mix-and-match MDM and container vendors

Baires's picture
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Does anyone know if you can mix and match a best-of-breed MDM solution with a "container" product like Good? If, for example, you like the MDM features of Airwatch, but want to take advantage of the sandboxing features of Good, can you deploy those without using Good for MDM, and use Airwatch instead? I don't know if Good would require that you load an MDM profile on the IOS device, or if you can have more than one loaded.

TechRecess: Supervising Devices with Apple Configurator

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Randy Saeks has posted his second installment on Apple Configurator. Here's the video (but his site is work visiting for his introduction).

How (not) to promote your MDM solution

Aaron Freimark's picture
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Attention all MDM marketing interns. Congratulations!

It seems like only yesterday when you were fetching Starbucks for the boss. But today you've given an awesome responsibility: you're to promote your flagship product on the web. Trust me, the boss has given you this task only because he really trusts you. This is your BIG SHOT! Not only that, but you've discovered Enterprise iOS, a site like no other, and this is going to be a HUGE win for your company. Between you and me, your boss hasn't heard of this site, and will be so PROUD when he finds out!!

But wait! What to post?

Let's see. It is a technical community of professionals, and the readers would really appreciate deep knowledge and insight into this new industry. You could get the product manager to write some content, create some clean visuals to accompany the piece, and make sure it is all clearly branded. That would show your company's thought leadership in the field.

Nah, too much work. And you don't understand that geek speak anyway.

Much easier to pretend you're a customer, and talk about how your company in the third person. Yeah.

Sure, it is sleazy, and displays a stunning lack of confidence in your employer and their technology. But only if we find out, right?

TechRecess: First look video of Apple Configurator

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Randy Saeks has posted a fantastic First look at Apple Configurator on his edutech blog TechRecess.

He'll be posting more in this series in the next few days, and we'll be sure to link.

iPhone Configuration Utility updated to 3.5

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Apple has updated its iPhone Configuration Utility to version 3.5. We haven't yet found release notes for this version. But a glance show the following changes:

New Restrictions

  • Allow Siri
  • Allow Siri while device locked
  • Allow voice dialing
  • Force user to enter iTunes Store password for all purchases
  • Allow Photo Stream
  • Allow diagnostic data to be sent to Apple

New VPN Types

  • SonicWALL Mobile Connect
  • Aruba VIA

There may be more. We'll post when we figure it out! Expect these settings to come to an MDM Provider near you soon.

Apple Releases Apple Configurator App

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As part of the new iPad announcement, Apple sent a message to resellers about an "Apple Configurator App":

Apple Configurator makes it easy for anyone to use a Mac to mass configure and deploy iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch in a school, business, or institution.

Apple Configurator can be used to quickly and easily configure up to 30 devices at a time with the latest version of iOS, device settings (such as user accounts), security policies, and Wi-Fi settings, as well as apps and data.

A First Look will be available in March.

However, the same email says "Now available as a free download on the Mac App Store." We'll post an update when we know more.

Update: User Pyby found it on the app store at this link. We'll take a closer look and post more very soon.

Comparison of MDM Providers

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