Last updated November 7, 2019
Apple developed the Device Enrollment Program to help businesses and educational institutions easily deploy iOS and macOS devices. Even when utilizing mobile device management, the workflow to configure newly purchased iOS and macOS devices was complicated. DEP reduces the number of required steps for a newly purchased device to be ready for use.
Note: The Apple Device Enrollment Program is now commonly referred to as “Automated Enrollment” and exists as part of Apple Business Manager. While the information in this article is still relevant, we suggest that you also read the following article to understand how Apple DEP now fits in the larger context of Apple Business Manager: Explained: What is Apple Business Manager?
Having even one of these requirements makes DEP worth utilizing:
IT benefits greatly from the number of reduced ‘touches’ that need to be performed on each device.
DEP is a great option for non-technical employees, as well. As soon as they unbox their device and turn it on, it’s ready to go after a few screens. There’s no waiting for IT to configure the device, and there’s less confusion during the setup process. An employee is able to use their device immediately.
A DEP account must be created with Apple. This account is generally created during the hardware purchase process but can be created separately as well. Once the account is created, devices are associated with the account by serial number.
When you pair SimpleMDM with a DEP account, SimpleMDM allows you to specify how your devices will be configured. These configurations, when saved, will be pushed to your DEP account on Apple servers.
Then, when a registered DEP device is turned on for the first time, it contacts the Apple DEP servers and checks for a configuration. It sees the SimpleMDM configuration that you created and applies it to the device.
If devices are purchased through a designated business channel, such as the Apple Business Team or third party business resellers (like CDW or Verizon), the devices can be added to your DEP account at the time of purchase by your account manager.
Starting with iOS 11, previously purchased iOS devices (macOS are not eligible currently) can also be added to DEP using Apple Configurator 2.5 software. Devices will enter a 30-day trial period where the device is part of the DEP account, but can be removed at any time. Once the 30 days has expired, the device will permanently belong to the DEP account. See our walkthrough for more information.
If you have existing devices running an earlier version of iOS, Apple may be able to add them to your DEP account after the time of purchase. To prove ownership, the devices need to have been purchased through a business channel. Our article Add Existing Apple Devices to Your DEP Account goes into further depth.
Configuring DEP within SimpleMDM allows for a number of options, such as:
Additionally, there are a number of setup steps that can be disabled or modified.
Specifically, you can opt to skip screens such as:
Or you can modify screens in order to:
We hope that this guide has been helpful. Feel free to leave a comment with any questions you may have. We’ll be sure to answer them.
Apple has prepared outstanding documentation on the DEP program. We encourage you to peruse it if you are considering using DEP in your organization.