Dieter Petereit September 29th, 2015

Bushel: Unexpensive Mobile Device Management Made Easy

If your small organization uses Apple products in a decentralized environment, you will already have encountered a bunch of problems. How can you make sure that all the devices run the necessary apps, got the relevant settings and secure your company data? Sounds familiar? Bushel, a fresh service created by industry veteran JAMF Software, wants to help you with its straight-forward, almost intuitive approach. BUSHEL-REVIEW-TEASER_EN

Bushel: Set Atop of Apple’s Mobile Device Management Capabilities

Bushel makes deploying and administering Apple devices fast and easy. Be aware that, when I say Apple products, I mean it. There is no way to manage other devices. Bushel concentrates on Macs, iPhones, and iPads. Apple Watch might be supported one day, but today is not. While you can use the Mobile Device Management (MDM) from any modern browser, also on Windows and elsewhere, you will not be able to manage hardware not build by our friends from Cupertino. But if you are dedicated to the OSX and iOS ecosystem anyway and got more than one Apple device to keep in sync and up to date, Bushel is well worth taking note of. Bushel is based on the Mobile Device Management capabilities Apple has in store for organizations. That means that Bushel is just an intelligent way to bring to power what is already there. And it means that you need not be afraid in terms of security. Bushel does not and is not even able to do anything that Apple has not forethought and implemented anyway. To be more precise, Bushel does not read any data from within any apps and does not run reports on which device has which apps installed. It cannot copy data off of any device. It doesn’t even do location tracking. It is left to the user to decide whether he wants to use „Find my Phone/Mac/etc” and even if he does decide to, this is not run from within Bushel. What is really charming about the concept is, that all you need is a browser. No particular IT solution run on internal servers, supported by those IT guys that never say „Hello” when they pass you by. You don’t even need to touch any device before it reaches the hands of the employee it has been assigned to. They can enroll their devices on their own. The only computer that is physically needed in the hands of the administrator is the one you want to do the initial setup of Bushel MDM on. All other devices can be enrolled by simply visiting the URL of your MDM, entering a passcode you provided. Setting up and populating an MDM has never been easier.

Bushel in my Scenario

Look at me. I have two MacBooks, an iPhone, an iPad Air 2 and an iPad Mini. I do invest quite some time in keeping them in sync as far as general settings and apps are concerned. Today I threw three of my devices into Bushel. Why three, you ask? Because three devices can be managed entirely free of charge. Bushel’s price list is simple. You pay two dollars a month for the fourth device and up. The more devices there are to administer, the more value you will find in Bushels MDM service. It took me five minutes to get up and running. The initial setup needs a little attention as you have to download a file and upload it to Apple, then download a file from Apple and upload it to Bushel to have the two services connected. But all in all even this process is not too complicated as long as you know your Apple ID ;-) bushel-apple-connection Setup is described in detail here. While we are at it, let me recommend you the whole of Bushel’s Help Center. They answer all the questions that came to my mind there. There was nothing left unclear. Enrolling was a snap. You visit the given URL of your MDM. The MDM presents you with a minimalistic for in which you enter your name and the passcode the administrator gave you. Then you download a configuration profile. Mobile Safari knows how to handle it and will properly install it after your confirmation. After that, your device can be managed remotely and will appear in the device grid over at your MDM website. Should you not be too happy with the thought of open enrollment, keep your calm. You can also enroll devices the traditional way without all the modern openness… bushel-mydevices-640 Clicking any of the enrolled devices will open the overview for that device. You can see all the relevant information including Serial, IMEI, Mac address, capacity and more. bushel-devicemanagement-overview-iphone-640

More of Bushel's Advanced Features

Vital information such as all the WiFi networks available or all the company email servers can be managed centrally and automatically deployed to all enrolled devices. Deployment runs every time you made a change, so no need to keep an additional eye on that. Another great feature is the possibility to even deploy apps across all devices. You will need to connect your Bushel to Apple’s Volume Purchase Program first. Once done you will be able to install free as well as paid apps directly from the backend of your MDM to all devices simultaneously or single devices individually. Should an employee leave your company, you can simply call back that app and assign it to another employee. That way your ecosystem stays intact and your investment is secured. Speaking of apps and keeping them tied to the company. You can also limit interaction between apps to those that you deployed remotely. That way users will not be able to share company data through any other app that they may have bought themselves. You are also able to enforce passcodes and disk encryption as well as disable the iCloud. Bushel is compatible with the concept of „Bring your own Device” as the MDM claims no exclusivity on the devices enrolled. Probably users might not be so open to the thought of being restricted by the company in their use of their personal digital assistant. The administrator is even able to lock or erase the device altogether. But this is a discussion between device owner and employer. Worth noting is the responsiveness of Bushel’s design. You can use the MDM on any modern browser, even on mobile ones. This empowers you to manage devices from anywhere you are with anything you have at hand as long as it has a browser installed. I do not know of a simpler way to handle mobile device management today. Before I leave you, I want to encourage you to try Bushel as soon as you have more than one Apple device around you. I would like to know what you think about the service. Let me know in the comments below.

Dieter Petereit

Dieter Petereit is a veteran of the web with over 25 years of experience in the world of IT. As soon as Netscape became available he started to do what already at that time was called web design and has carried on ever since. Two decades ago he started writing for several online publications, some well, some lesser known. You can meet him over on Google+.

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