The busy Apple-in-the-enterprise space continues to generate new products and services. Case in point: Kandji, which has enhanced its existing Mobile Device Management (MDM) platform with Declarative Device Management. I caught up with, Weldon Dodd, the company’s senior vice president for product strategy, for the details.
What’s new in Device Harmony?
Apple says there are nearly 2 billion active Apple devices worldwide, up from 1.5 billion in 2021, many of them deployed across the enterprise, driven by consumer choice, and clearly emerging TCO and ownership advantages.
Kandji’s latest release introduces new device management capabilities, such as Declarative Device Management and a new home-baked “Lost Mode” that lets IT track lost or stolen iPhones or iPads without iCloud, Location Services, or any action by the device user. The feature leverages Apple’s own MDM frameworks.
The device management solution also offers admins new organizational management tools and improved device security options, including integration with Okta Device Trust and Google Workspace.
There are many more enhancements, with details available here.
Apple’s growing presence in enterprise IT
“When it comes to Apple adoption in the enterprise market, we continue to see organizations of all sizes, from large enterprises to scrappy start-ups, choose Apple as their endpoint of choice,” Dodd said. “Apple has been investing heavily in the enterprise space, and throughout 2022 we’ve seen Apple really begin to emerge as the device of choice for enterprises and employees alike and we expect this growth to continue well into 2023 and beyond. This is just the beginning of Apple’s rise in the enterprise.”
This growth may be driven by device choice (most employees will want Apple devices when given the option), and “employers are finding Apple devices more and more beneficial to enable productive and secure work,” he said. Requests to use Apple products have grown by 50%, he said.
We’re also seeing the TCO debate move on from the simple sticker price debate to encompass other elements of computer use in business. IBM generated huge interest when it acknowledged this link at Jamf’s JNUC event, and Kandji sees the same.
Dodd cited his own company research, which claims 56% of IT leaders are more confident in the ability to remotely manage Apple devices versus Windows. “While Apple devices are more expensive to buy up front, they have proven to be less expensive to maintain and support in the long run,” he said. [And] 84% said Apple devices are more secure than devices from other vendors.”
Digging the API
Kandji’s Lost Mode is interesting because it exploits Apple’s own MDM APIs to provide a new take on Find My, one that doesn’t use iCloud. This tech relies on Apple’s recently introduced support for Declarative Device Management. “We take what Apple provides to all vendors and implement it in a unique way that makes our customer’s lives simpler,” he said.
Of course, Apple being Apple, developers that tweak the company’s own APIs run the risk of Apple changing course. Dodd doesn’t think this will happen with Lost mode.
“We are confident that Kandji’s implementation of Lost Mode is not at risk of any sudden changes introduced by Apple,” he said, pointing out that it uses the Managed Lost Mode capabilities provided by Apple within its MDM protocols.
The mode also uses MapKit and regularly updated location data so admins seeking a lost device get good oversight over where it happens to be. “And we continue to enforce Lost Mode, even if a device is reset,” he said. An employee will explicitly be notified if the feature is in force.
The improved security piece reflects an industry-wide attempt to secure the platforms. Every player, at least in the enterprise space, is delivering security enhancements for Apple’s platforms — even as the company itself continues its work to secure them. Apple’s new iCloud security enhancements are just the latest chapter in this book, and it seems very probable that security will be one of the key topics for the Apple ecosystem going into 2023.
Apple is the enterprise
“Apple will continue to innovate in both hardware and software to make Apple products the most private and secure in the world,” said Dodd.
There’s very good reason: “The devices we use for work are more mobile and the environments we work in are more varied and uncontrolled than they’ve ever been before,” Dodd said. “This is what has made Zero Trust so important — we no longer have a singular network edge to provide protection; the idea that some critical work resource can only be available in the office protected behind the firewall just doesn’t match the current reality that we live in. Zero Trust principles give confidence that only authorized users using authorized devices are accessing corporate applications and data.”
The ecosystem of supporting products and services for Apple deployments in the enterprise continues to grow, even as the presence of competing MDM vendors enables businesses to search for solutions that are the most relevant to their specific business needs.
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