Apple iOS device management cheat sheet

Managing iPhones, iPads and their apps can get tricky. Sometimes it's good to take a step back and look at the basics of iOS device management.

Managing iPhones and iPads in a business setting can quickly get complicated. End users all have different needs and ways of working, and they manifest themselves in the devices and apps they choose. There's no shortage of features and products for improvingiOS device management, which only muddies the waters further.

This cheat sheet aims to distill Apple iOS device management down to the basics, offering quick-hit explainers of the major tasks IT administrators have to perform today.

Apple iOS mobile device management

Enrollment: Before IT can manage iPhones and iPads, they must be configured to work with the company's mobile device management (MDM) software. In previous versions, users had to enroll devices themselves, but iOS 7 gives that power to IT.

Enterprise single sign-on: Once their devices are enrolled, users can log in with their corporate credentials and have access to all approved data and apps, thanks to another new iOS 7 feature, enterprise single sign-on.

Apple Configurator: This free iOS device management tool is only available for Mac OS X and requires a direct, wired connection with iPhones and iPads. Those limitations aside, Configurator offers an easy-to-use interface for assigning specific settings to users' devices before deployment.

Data usage: The iPhone 5 and newer iPads come with LTE connectivity, which is great for users but can eat into data allowances very quickly. Consider apps that monitor data usage and alert users when limits are approaching.

Managing iOS applications and services

Buying apps: Apple offers a Volume Purchasing Program (VPP) through which organizations can purchase apps for end users. Employees still have to download the apps themselves, using redemption codes provided by IT.

App licenses: With iOS 7, the VPP will let organizations buy apps and assign them to employees while retaining license ownership, which means employers can redeploy apps among users as staff turns over and job roles change.

Open-in management: One of the most important management features in iOS 7 is open-in management, which lets admins decide which apps employees can use to access or share corporate data. Think of it as a sort of built-in mobile application management technology.

ICloud: Apple keeps making it easier for apps to integrate with iCloud, its public cloud storage service that IT can't control. IT can, however, restrict iCloud access through most MDM products. Apple's application programming interfaces offer the power to block automatic device backups and document synchronization.

Dig Deeper on Apple iOS in the enterprise