Last updated April 19, 2019
Updated 6/26/18: Added device type based DEP server assignment information. Clarified limitations of managed Apple IDs.
Apple Business Manager (ABM) is now available to the general public. ABM is a natural consolidation of the Apple Volume Purchase Program (VPP) and Apple Device Enrollment Program (DEP) portals. It also includes a few other useful capabilities outlined in this article.
The Apple VPP and Apple DEP (Explained: Apple DEP) portals have been brought under the same roof in ABM with a single sign in portal and a unified user interface. As before with DEP, administrators can create multiple MDM server objects and assign devices to them as they please. The new UI simplifies navigation by providing a more logical organization of information, at least in our opinion.
The VPP aspect of ABM is also an improvement. Navigating through purchased apps and books is more straightforward. A separate section for custom apps, also referred to as VPP B2B apps, exists for easier identification.
In the previous Device Enrollment Program portal, administrators could choose a default MDM Server object to have all newly-added devices assigned to. In Apple Business Manager, administrators can now assign a default MDM server for each device type, currently distinguishing Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, iPod and Mac as options.
Unlike the old VPP and DEP portals, ABM permits granting access to multiple administrators for an organization. Predefined roles exist with varying levels of permissions, with user classes such as “Staff”, “Device Manager”, “Content Manager”, and “People Manager”. Organizations that previously shared Apple ID credentials to access the VPP and DEP portals no longer need to.
Previously, admins needed to rely on Apple or their third party hardware vendor to register new device purchases to Apple DEP. This registration made the new device serial numbers available for assignment to an MDM server object.
With Apple Business Manager, administrators are able to add these orders through the interface. The interface provides two options: both Apple customer numbers and Apple reseller numbers can be associated with an ABM account.
Managed Apple IDs already exist in Apple School Manager, which is designed specifically for education and has similarities to ABM. A Managed Apple ID is an Apple ID that your organization owns. Unlike with Apple School Manager, where managed Apple IDs can be used by students on the devices themselves, managed Apple IDs for Apple Business manager can only be used by administrators to access the Apple Business Manager web portal. While their usage in the business domain is currently somewhat limited, we anticipate that Apple will reveal more purposes for them in time.
Within ABM, administrators are able to register domain names (yourbusiness.com, for example). Apple IDs can then be generated within the interface that match this domain.
Our experience with Apple Business Manager account setup was relatively painless. After signing in with our existing DEP Apple ID, we agreed to a few new terms, registered our company domain, and were up and running. We were able to import our VPP account as well without much trouble. Assuming that you have access to the necessary Apple ID credentials, this process will likely take less than 5 minutes.