iOS 8 refinements sure to fuel device enrollment efforts

Although Apple's Device Enrollment Program is not new with iOS 8, the program will benefit from the mobile release's many enterprise-friendly features.

iPhone and iPad on iOS

Apple's WWDC 2014 introduced new iOS and OS X releases. One of the most compelling iOS enterprise features announced, however, isn't new. Apple's Device Enrollment Program, which enables IT departments to manage iOS devices, was quietly introduced earlier in the year.

The Device Enrollment Program assists IT departments in automating mobile device setup and joining devices -- such as iPads and iPhones -- to the IT department's existing mobile device management (MDM) solution. Leveraging Apple's Device Enrollment Program, IT departments can enjoy zero-touch configuration. iOS devices can be set, upon activation, to receive preconfigured account settings, applications, and IT services. The device doesn't first need to be removed from its box by a member of the company's IT department, staged, configured, and then sent to the end user. Instead, organization-owned devices can be preconfigured to automatically be enrolled within its MDM solution, thereby helping assure all devices remain standardized, receive only the proper apps, possess specific security settings, and remain compliant with mobile asset policies.

Companies can sign up for the Device Enrollment Program if they purchase Apple equipment directly from Apple. The organization's representative must be able to demonstrate he or she possesses the authority to administer mobile devices and agree to Apple's terms. The actual sign up process is managed online. Businesses must be prepared to provide a phone number, street address, email address, DUNS number, and Apple customer number, which is used to help verify enrollment eligibility.

Obviously, the capacity to preconfigure devices for auto-enrollment within existing MDM solutions is a great help to IT departments that have consistently been battling to maintain pace with almost unprecedented BYOD trends. When iOS 8 is released, organizations will receive several additional enterprise-friendly features that will only serve to increase reliance and dependence upon auto-enrollment programs. The new ability to add additional passcode protections directly to apps, including Calendar and Mail, will help corporate IT administrators sleep a little better knowing an extra hurdle must be overcome before unauthorized parties receive access to sensitive information often contained within those apps. The ability to passcode specific applications will also be extended to developers, meaning developers can code their third-party apps to prove compatible with the security feature, as well.

Within iOS 8, Apple is also introducing the ability for organizations to leverage S/MIME encryption. S/MIME users can leverage the technology to encrypt individual messages, thereby providing more granular control to iOS phone and tablet users. Other business-friendly features, which will help drive continued iOS adoption (Apple boasted the company's devices are already used within 98% of Fortune 500 companies and the firm is committed to reaching the last 2%) include the ability to see others' meeting availability within Calendar and simplified document access using compatible corporate file server connections.

All told, iOS 8's new business-friendly innovations, combined with simplified onboarding and automated MDM enrollment, means that more enterprise devices will enter the fold. As the BYOD trends continue, IT departments can at least tap Apple's device management strategies and new iOS 8 features to help maintain some order activating, deploying, standardizing, and administering Apple's popular smartphones and tablet computers.

Has your organization incorporated Apple devices in its BYOD planning? Which of the new iOS enterprise features do you find most impressive? Share your thoughts in the discussion thread below.