Apple DEP & The Future of Imaging

Published Mar 19, 2019 10:39:40 AM in Tech News

The move from monolithic imaging to Apple's DEP signaled a paradigm shift for IT admins. Here is a helpful primer for DEP and similar programs being developed for other platforms.


Imaging has changed. Apple signaled the end of traditional imaging by switching from traditional “monolithic” system imaging to Apple’s Device Enrollment Program (DEP). The end of traditional imaging on macOS is not a revolution, but an evolution long in the works. It’s an evolution that begins with DEP, but will soon spread.

What is Apple DEP?

The Apple Device Enrollment Program provides organizations with a way to deploy and configure Apple devices to your company’s management solution without touching them. With the right endpoint management solution, you can facilitate zero-touch deployment for settings, configurations, restrictions, and personalizations directly into the out-of-box experience for macOS computers.

Apple DEP is a shift toward an imaging and enrollment process that is automatic and continuous, ditching complicated multi-step processes and restricting end users from de-enrolling or erasing devices to remove management restrictions.

Apple DEP takes the operating system out of your environment. Instead, you now manage the process between users, your organization, and the Apple ecosystem.

Building on Apple DEP

Beyond deployment of the base operating system, new users need to receive specific applications. In the past, some organizations simply added applications to the base image to save steps. However, the variety of hardware, differences in user roles, and frequent updates to individual applications made maintaining the master image time-consuming and difficult to manage. It also typically required multiple base images. As a result, best practices evolved to deploy only the base OS in the imaging process, and complete the deployment of applications via other methods.

Here is where using a third-party solution such as FileWave to manage DEP can allow you to provide even greater control - without extra steps or work.

With FileWave, software distribution targets devices based on criteria the admin determines, including, for example, departments, user roles, devices types, and self-service or mandatory installation. Once an imaged device is assigned to a user, FileWave’s automation takes over, installing applications where they are needed, and ensuring through self-healing that critical applications remain installed.

During setup, users see only what you want them to see. The unboxing and installation of these customized configurations is seamless - for IT and for the users.

The Future of Imaging

Deployment was never just imaging; it was, and remains, the process of fully configuring systems, and delivering the apps and settings users need to be productive. Apple has led the way with DEP, but other platforms are now following suit: examples here or coming soon include Microsoft’s Autopilot, Samsung Knox Mobile Enrollment, and Android Zero-Touch.

The future of imaging is zero touch. And yet, zero-touch deployments across a complex device ecosystem can still overwhelm any IT department. The future of endpoint management is becoming less about devices and apps and more about managing relationships - between user and device, company and app, employee and company, and devices and the vendor.

FileWave simplifies complex device landscapes, helping ease the transition toward the newest technologies and best practices such as DEP, while also supporting your older legacy operating systems and simplifying the management of complex relationships. Learn more about this paradigm shift by downloading our white paper Imaging in the Age of High Sierra.

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