Business manager

What role does Apple Business Manager play with devices?

Apple @ Work is brought to you by Kandji, the MDM solution designed exclusively for organizations that run on Apple. Kandji is a modern, cloud-based platform to centrally manage and secure your Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV devices, saving IT teams countless hours of manual labor with features like one-click compliance templates and 150+ pre-built automations, apps, and workflows. Request access.

Last week, I launched a “Back to Basics” series about managing Apple devices in business and K-12 education. This week, we take a look at Apple School Manager and Apple Business Manager by understanding the roles they play when it comes to managing your devices.

About [email protected]: Bradley Chambers has been managing an enterprise IT network since 2009. With his experience deploying and managing firewalls, switches, mobile device management system, Wi-Fi company, hundreds of Macs and hundreds of iPads, Bradley will highlight the ways in which Apple IT managers are deploying Apple devices, building networks to support them, training users, stories from the trenches of IT management and ways Apple could improve its products for IT services.


Apple School Manager (ASM) and Apple Business Manager (AMB) are relatively new parts of the Apple management ecosystem. It is a rebuilt version of Apple’s Device Enrollment Program (DEP) and Volume Purchase Program (VPP). It’s a single portal to manage your apps, books, mobile device management solutions linked to your account, and devices under your supervision. Your MDM solution will also be connected to ASM/ABM to manage application licenses after a purchase.

Enterprise app purchases

ASM and ABM are the centralized locations for an organization to purchase and manage all company-owned apps through the iOS App Store and Mac App Store. It does not interact with third-party apps not sold through Apple’s platforms. Many organizations rely heavily on the iOS App Store because it’s the only place to get iOS apps. Most organizations will bundle their Mac-side apps and deploy them directly to their devices through their MDM.

One thing to keep in mind, ASM and ABM don’t support in-app purchases, so any apps you deploy need to be free, paid for in advance, or licensed elsewhere, so your employees need to connect.

Device Management Server

Apple School and Business Manager is also the essential part of creating a zero-touch deployment model, as it is tied to Apple’s activation servers. When organization-owned devices are unboxed and begin the setup process, they register with Apple’s activation servers. If they are part of an organization’s fleet, then they are prompted to register with the company’s MDM server.

When devices are purchased through your company’s account with Apple, these serial numbers are automatically assigned to your ASM or ABM account. If you do not do want them to be linked to your MDM, you will need to release them. Once a device is removed from your account, it functions as a typical device. Once Macs are released, they cannot be added. iOS devices can be added using Apple Configurator 2.5 or later.

You can also allow the MDM server to delete devices. This method does not require you to log into ASM or AMB. This feature is enabled by default when you add an MDM server to your account. You can remove this feature by deselecting the option for any new or existing MDM server.

Managed Apple IDs

ASM and ABM also let you manage your organization’s Apple IDs. Managed Apple IDs work much like regular Apple IDs, but the organization controls them. However, some features accessible with standard Apple IDs are not available with Managed Apple IDs. Examples include Apple Pay, iCloud Mail, Home App, and Sidecar. Unfortunately, devices cannot have multiple Apple IDs, so end users cannot use their personal Apple ID for some features and a corporate ID for others.

There are several ways to create Managed Apple IDs. You can create them manually, connect ASM/ABM to Azure Active Directory, sync with a student information system, or upload via SFTP.

Summary of Apple School Manager and Apple Business Manager

ASM and ABM are core elements of Apple’s corporate strategy. Although these are relatively new platforms, Apple has done a great job of integrating the purchase process with the device management strategy, and this is the first step in building a appropriate Apple management strategy.

Apple @ Work is brought to you by Kandji, the MDM solution designed exclusively for organizations that run on Apple. Kandji is a modern, cloud-based platform to centrally manage and secure your Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV devices, saving IT teams countless hours of manual labor with features like one-click compliance templates and 150+ pre-built automations, apps, and workflows. Request access.

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