I’m actually a big fan of using Apple software like Configurator and Profile Manager to do MDM on the cheap – and using ActiveSync profiles means that most people will be able to secure the information on the device, which is what most companies need.
But the particular needs of the LA Unified School District don’t really fit neatly in here.
Thanks to a whole range of news articles (the best one, I think is from Ars Technica), the LAUSD has now found out that users can easily delete their ActiveSync profile to return to an ‘unmanaged’ state. I’m seriously amazed they could get this far down this path, with a $1B project, likely lots of support from Apple directly, and not realise that profiles can be deleted?
Apple has, in effect, always gone for a model where a device could, one way or another, be put back to a ‘virgin’ state. Even if this particular method wasn’t used, there are plenty of others to restore an iPad, with the only minor issues being getting access to specific enterprise apps. It’s not rocket science.
The key is whether you secure your data at the app level, and whether you provide enough benefit that your users continue to elect to be under management. In business, this is easy (lost devices can be claimed via insurance, lost data is harder), and for home users, parents could just take away the device. But for education, where programs will rely on access to these iPads, it has a unique need to securely lock down the device entirely, but being a school, doesn’t have the budget for good MDM to help.
One of the things I’m not aware of yet it any features around device management, particularly ‘supervised’ mode in the new versions of Apple Server iOS management tools and iOS that will prevent this. We have the functionality to, with Activation Lock, as well as supervised modes, but have not seen or tested the ability to lock down the ability to remove profiles in iOS7. Though, with this sort of news hitting Apple in education (though not really their fault) one could imagine this being a feature introduced in iOS7.1, if it’s not in already…