Managing Mobile Devices Cost-EffectivelyBy Ariella Brown Print
A mobile device management (MDM) solution enables Gilt Groupe Japan to manage its fleet of Apple devices, while meeting user needs and saving time and money.
The employees at Gilt Groupe Japan, a subsidiary of the e-commerce company Gilt Groupe, use MacBooks for work. Providing the required access to apps and other services for all 159 devices used to require time-consuming hands-on attention. As the business also included a location in another part of Tokyo, any hands-on servicing of devices would entail an hour-and-a-half trip each way, on top the time needed to work on the device itself.
With the goal of reducing the need for people to give their laptops to the IT organization for several hours, Andrew Robinson, the business' senior IT support engineer, started looking for a solution to manage the Apple devices and apps more efficiently. He sought a lightweight management system that would run on the cloud and fit in with the company's budget.
While some management services are free, Robinson found them too complicated to use, and all the paid services he looked into were beyond their budget. However, one of the people he spoke with recommended him to look at JAMF Software's Bushel, a cloud-based mobile device management (MDM) solution for iPads, iPhones and Macs.
As Bushel allows three devices to be enrolled for free, Robinson tested it out on his own phone and Mac. Then he added it to office devices. The great thing about the free enrollment, he says, is that it's possible to prototype and test the system without having to get clearance from finance.
The cost and terms of the service were also a plus. As Bushel operates in the cloud, there was no need to invest in infrastructure for device management. The MDM solution also delivers all of its services for just $2 per month for each device after the first three. Plus, Gilt did not have to deal with complicated pricing tiers.
Another feature Robinson likes is Bushel Blueprints, which makes it possible to create a blueprint that pre-configures settings—including email, device security and WiFi networks—to a specified group of Apple devices. So he can set up different policies for different groups of users.
Robinson can set up one blueprint for people on the marketing team, another for those in IT, another for the CEO, and so on, according to each one's preferred settings and required access. The ability to modify the blueprints as needed without having to take possession of the devices saves a great deal of time and inconvenience.
Leveraging the Apple Ecosystem and the Cloud
Robinson explains the difference of Bushel's approach: Instead of bringing devices into a new ecosystem, this MDM "leverages the ecosystem that is native to the computer." Apple initially developed configuration profiles for its smartphones and tablets and then applied it to its laptops. Consequently, there is a great deal of security experience that IT can tap into by following the path set by Apple.
Because of the seamless communication between Apple and the registered Bushel server, when a new device is connected, it recognizes that it's linked to Gilt and receives credentials that are downloaded directly to the device. That allows the initial setups required to provision a computer with password and encryption, etc., to be completed in about one-third of the time it took before Bushel.
The MDM also simplifies the process of pushing apps out to users remotely, allowing Robinson to meet the needs of users wherever and whenever. Because it is a web-distributed application, Bushel's platform is accessible from anywhere with a web connection. That enables both wide and individual app delivery.
For example, when Gilt Japan decided to use the messaging app Line, Bushel enabled Robinson to push that out to employee computers remotely. On a more micro-level, he installed an app for an individual who requested it after hours. Even though he was not in the office at the time, he was able to log into Bushel's dashboard from his phone and push an app to the user on the spot.
Overall, Robinson estimates that he saves about an hour's worth of time per device, which adds add up to more than 150 hours a year. "Anything that can save me time has got my vote," he says.
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