APPLE BUSINESS ESSENTIALS – HERE’S WHAT WE KNOW

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Apple has officially released Apple Business Essentials, the company’s newest foray into corporate mac management (ABE). When Apple makes a new announcement, the Mac community is always delighted. There’s a lot to be pleased about as Apple displays a greater interest in the SMB community, Mac administrators, and what these administrators require to manage their fleets effectively and safely. However, there is still a lot we don’t know (the product won’t be fully released until Spring 2022), as well as a lot of (big) questions concerning what we do know. Let’s take a look at what we know about ABE so far, who it seems to be most suited for, and what questions you should be asking Apple (and yourself) as we learn more.

What are Apple Business Essentials?

Apple Business Essentials is a device management system that enables administrators to setup, install, and manage Apple devices from a remote location. It features iCloud storage and employs managed Apple IDs for authentication and permission.

The program requirements are as follows:

  • iOS 15
  • macOS Monterey 12.1 or later
  • tvOS 15
  • Safari or Chrome
  • All company devices must be in Apple Business Manager (ABM), or you must use Configurator to get them there
  • Individual BYODs can be User Enrolled for iOS
APPLE BUSINESS

Pricing for ABE is:

The program requirements are as follows:

  • iOS 15
  • macOS Monterey 12.1 or later
  • tvOS 15
  • Safari or Chrome
  • All company devices must be in Apple Business Manager (ABM), or you must use Configurator to get them there
  • Individual BYODs can be User Enrolled for iOS

Pricing for ABE is:

  • Single Device, 50GB
    • Each employee in the plan gets one managed device, iOS OR macOS.
    • Each employee gets 50GB of iCloud
    • $2.99/user/mo
  • Multi-Device, 200GB
    • Each employee in the plan gets three managed devices of any type
    • Each employee gets 200GB of iCloud
    • $6.99/user/mo
  • Multi-Device, 2TB
    • Each employee in the plan gets three managed devices of any type
    • Each employee gets 2TB of iCloud
    • $12.99/user/mo
Apple Products

Who Will Benefit from Apple Business Essentials?

ABE will fit the bill if your company is a small-footprint, Apple-only SMB, or if you’re a consulting firm that helps Apple-only SMBs. If your company (or a client SMB) is planning to expand in the next years, it’s a good idea to look at all of your options. Look for a provider who can provide you with the most future-proofing options when selecting a solution for your deployment and identity access management services.

With this initial announcement, it seems ABE will do a few things well: 

  • It’s tied directly to Apple Business Manager, which is helpful in deploying your workforce’s App Store apps.
  • If a small business is Apple-homogenous and only uses Apple software, it can handle about 85-90% of what that small business needs.
  • It works with Azure AD, a benefit for small companies that will likely choose M365 for their productivity suite.
  • It has a familiar Apple UI Design.

But we think these are not enough to warrant choosing this as your deployment solution.

Questions You Should Be Asking

When Apple releases a new product, we are all ecstatic, and that ecstasy can counted on to produce a Reality Distortion Field…the emotion that causes us to enjoy something without questioning it. New product announcements are our Kool-Aid. Ecstasy over a new product or feature, as well as blind dedication to a product, are not the ideal methods to run an IT department. Take a pause, pull back from the excitement, and ask yourself (and Apple) a few key questions about ABE and how it pertains to your team:

  • Does it handle FileVault key escrow?
  • Can it deliver your non-App Store apps to your workstations?
  • Can it federate ALL of your logins for other IT resources?
  • Do you need to federate with something other than AzureAD?
  • Do you need to deploy custom apps to your iOS devices?

Pricing Considerations and Clarifications

Apple claims that the fee is per user (email address), however it isn’t. If the customer only has one device, the price is lower ($2.99) than if the user has numerous devices, the price is higher ($6.99). Storage also included in the plans, with 50GB for single devices and 200GB (or 2TB) for multi-device subscriptions. Those appear to be fairly specific use cases. What if your consumers require 100GB of storage but only own one device? You’ll now have to pay for the higher tier. Similarly, if your three-device user doesn’t require iCloud storage, you won’t be able to utilise it.

In their existing literature, Apple’s BYOD policy remains unknown. Will they be able to get one? What is the plan for putting it into action? It’s difficult to imagine a circumstance where a user in a small-medium firm would have more than one device if BYOD isn’t part of the ABE, but it’s simple to imagine a situation where they’d need more than 50GB of storage if BYOD isn’t part of the ABE. And, more importantly, what included in that storage – mail? Music? Pictures?

We’ve Seen It Before

Apple is one of our favourite brands. However, we’ve discovered that our affection for them may occasionally leave us feeling befuddled. Apple has already dabbled with the business world with the cylinder MacPro, JointVenture, OnForce, the XServe, Server. the app, and the recent acquisition of Fleetsmith. Apple teases us with entering the commercial enterprise market on a regular basis. However, their track record shows that they captivate audiences just to forsake them a few years later. We adore Apple, but we want to know that we can rely on them to stay committed to us.

Is ABE Right For My Business?

We have a solid notion of what you could require as your SME expands, having done this job for years. As you evaluate ABE, bear in mind your 1, 3, and 5-year strategic goals as you analyse the following possible issues:

  • Only if you want your FileVault keys protected from prying eyes, if you want them to kept in a secure location, you’ll need more than ABE.
  • Yes if you want your users to have their business apps seamlessly work with their company passwords, you’ll need more than ABE.
  • In case if you want granular control of your users and devices, you’ll need more than ABE.
  • If you want MFA everywhere, you’ll need more than ABE.
  • In case if you want to manage across all platforms, you’ll need more than ABE.
  • If you want to use storage that allows you to collaborate with an yone anywhere using any productivity suite, you’ll need more than ABE.
  • Only if you want a Billing Administrator, you’ll need more than ABE.
  • If you want to do billing through your management portal, you’ll need more than ABE.
  • In case if you want automated resolution of conflicts, you’ll need more than ABE.

Trust is Key

From the beginning of the information cycle to implementation and usage, users and IT administrators must have faith in their supplier.

Learn More…

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