Numerous organizations deploy iPads and iPhones. Most iPad and iPhone planning involves debating device cost, calculating potential productivity improvements, and forecasting profitability impact. Little thought is often dedicated, however, to preparing the actual deployment, creating the corresponding corporate software purchasing account, and distributing software applications to the mobile devices. Here's what to expect when considering the often-overlooked steps of actually deploying corporate iPad and iPhone applications.
Creating a VPP account
Mobile software programs are best administered within commercial and nonprofit organizations using a centralized purchasing platform. Apple's Volume Purchase Program simplifies the process of locating, purchasing, and deploying software applications and eliminates the need to have to track numerous different iTunes accounts and reimburse employee software purchases. Leveraging a standardized Volume Purchase Program, especially when combined with a Mobile Device Management (MDM) platform, also simplifies restricting and enforcing the applications users can install on their mobile devices.
To enroll within Apple's VPP, an organization must provide the following information upon registering:
- A Dun & Bradstreet (DUNS) number for the organization
- Contact information including a business phone number and email address
- The organization's business address that matches the address on file with Dun & Bradstreet
- Tax registration information, if the organization is located within the European Union
Once Apple approves a VPP registration, the organization will be asked to create a new Apple ID. The subsequent Apple ID can only be associated with the VPP account.
Making software purchases
Once a VPP account is established, an organization's technology administrator can log in to the account on Apple's Website. Administrators can log in to the Apple account from either Windows or Apple computers. Upon logging in, the administrator can search for and locate applications, enter the purchase quantity, supply credit card or PayPal account information, and complete the purchase.
When the purchase transaction completes, Apple notifies the administrator via email. The administrator can then log in to Apple's VPP Website, where redemption code information is provided for each order. The VPP Website's redemption code information is tracked and updates regularly, meaning administrators can check the status of licensing and redemptions at any given moment.
Redemption URLs are also provided within the VPP console, thereby providing a simple link that can be emailed directly to users to simplify application installation. Redemption codes can also be published directly to Intranets or via an internal application portal. Alternatively, organizations may choose to leverage a third-party Mobile Device Management (MDM) platform, such as Fiberlink's MaaS 360 or Mobile Iron, to deploy and administer applications throughout the organization.
The Apple Configurator, a free Apple app download, is another tool organizations can tap to assist mass software deployments. Using the free utility, administrators can import redemption code spreadsheets generated by the VPP console, track installed applications, configure and deploy devices, and update apps as required across supervised devices.
For more information, read Apple's App Store Volume Purchase Program for Business PDF. The file walks users through the process and provides additional details for working with custom business-to-business software, too.
Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.