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How small businesses can tap into Apple’s new device management solution

Posted by Deepshikha Shukla

December 9, 2021    |     4-minute read (723 words)

For some small businesses, keeping staff’s Apple devices up to date and handling related questions is a big challenge since they may not have a full-time IT team.

In a bid to mitigate this pain point, Apple has launched a beta device management solution, dubbed Apple Business Essentials, for businesses with less than 500 employees. 

The intent is “to help these customers onboard, support and update Apple devices, then offboard them workers leave the company,” said Susan Prescott, Apple’s vice president of enterprise and education marketing.

“​​It is designed to manage Apple devices across that lifecycle of the device, and it comprises three core pieces. It has got device management, along with storage, as well as support in one single subscription,” added Prescott.

Device management through Fleetsmith

Apple acquired Fleetsmith last year to help automate Apple device management. Fleetsmith can automate device setup, patch installation, security and compliance for your company’s Macs, iPhones, iPads and Apple TVs with the following features:

  • Zero-touch deployment — automatically set up devices for new hires.

  • Fully automated patch management — set-and-forget configuration for over 70 apps.

  • Fleet visibility — automatically detects and prevents problems across your “fleet.”

  • OS upgrades and enforcement — automatically install and update apps.
Apple Business Essentials subscriptions

Tom Mainelli, an analyst in IDC’s device and consumer research group, said, "[Apple’s] new program gives small businesses access to a set of services that were previously only available to larger companies."

With Apple’s Business Essentials, your small business can manage every employee’s iPhone, iPad, and Mac, every step of the way. Subscriptions comprise the following seven services:

  1. Setup 
When employers subscribe, their administrators can create users and groups based on rules such as location, role or team. Users belong to groups, and admins can set up a configuration for every group. 

When you add a user to a group, they automatically receive their apps and predefined configuration predefined for the applicable group. This lets you stay on top of every device, from app licenses to storage to repair requests.

  1. Onboarding
Once employers set up a work profile on employees’ Apple devices (whether it is an employer-provided or employee-purchased device), all employees have to do is sign in with their managed Apple IDs to access work storage and support from AppleCare.

  1. Backup
Employers get a dedicated iCloud account for their work, so storage and backup of their business are highly secure. However, companies are also free to connect to a third-party storage provider like Dropbox.

If employees enroll their own devices and get them set up for work, only their work product gets backed up. When they leave the company, only their work is deleted, leaving their personal data intact.

  1. Security
The solution enables employers to control security settings and features like password and software update policies for every device. When your employees enroll with personal devices, cryptographic separation keeps their work and personal data separate, so their privacy is protected. With Lost Mode, you can locate a missing iPhone or iPad, and with Remote Lock and Erase, you can lock or wipe stolen devices.

  1. Support
With prioritized AppleCare support, you and your employees can track and resolve device-related issues quickly.

  1. Repairs
When it launches out of beta, Apple’s Business Essentials will also include on-site service or same-day repairs. Each plan with AppleCare+ for Business Essentials will include up to two repairs that refresh annually.

  1. Updates
For updates or replacements, employees only need to sign into their new devices to access their apps, settings and work data in iCloud. Apple Business Essentials works in the background to manage and update devices automatically with OS and security updates.

Beta version free, official launch in 2022

Services are free during the beta stage. Apple will charge on a per-user, per-month basis for the device management and storage components after its official launch in 2022. You can select any of the following three plans and change them at will to cover your employees and their devices.

  1. Single device – $2.99 per device/month plan for users with one device and 50GB of storage.

  2. Multidevice – $6.99 per user/month plan lets you manage up to three devices for each user, with 200GB of storage.

  3. Multidevice with more storage – $12.99 per user/month plan for users with up to three devices and 2TB of storage.

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