Or, how we survived the deployment of an additional 700 iPads and 700 iPod touches this year without losing our minds.
MacGyver Chronicles, Episode 2: Restoring Multiple iOS Devices Using Xcode Organizer
Managing a Major Deployment
This article is underway, and will be added to over the next few days. Please check back as we do so.
As we geared up for our fourth iOS deployment year (we started doing large deployments in 2008-09), we refined further some of our practices and adjusted some of the ways we got them out. Some things haven't changed, so we'll reference those with links within the text. Other items are specific to iOS 5, and we'll highlight those by using Apple's iOS 5 icon. For a more complete understanding of the overall process of deployment of both iPod touch and iPad, please check out Managing a Major Deployment.
As you can see from the photo at the right, you have to be ready for when those devices start arriving via UPS, FedEx or other shipping companies. They will easily bury you.
Unboxing, labels, and cases
As we mentioned in our previous Managing a Major Deployment
article, you need to have staff on hand to receive all of your items if you are getting a bulk order. We are a small operation (our district is approx 5,000 K-12 students), so it's easy to get buried in packaging. One of the main differences between iPad and iPod touch shipments is that you will have a minimum of extraneous materials with iPad, but a huge amount of [wasteful] materials from iPod touch. In fact, when the iPods arrive on pallets as was the case for us, they included some "empty boxes" to fill up the space.
Don't worry, we checked them. They really were empty. We had hoped for a Cracker Jack prize or something.
As for iPads, when ordered in 10-packs, come neatly organized in boxes with the other items (charge cable, power brick, Apple stickers) in a separate box. This is quite handy and much less wasteful. Unfortunately, for inventory purposes, the barcodes that have the device serial number on them (which we add to our inventory) is not always on the internal boxes (only on the outside box), so you have to crack open each one before you can get them zapped by your barcode reader and into inventory. We found those barcodes on some, so we are hoping that Apple adds that someday to all of the boxes and that they add the wi-fi MAC address as well so that we can process them even more quickly.
We create a station (or stations) in order to process them as quickly as possible, putting our own inventory labels on them and assigning them to classrooms/students/teachers.
Apple's barcode is on the outside of the label that shows though the plastic container, but be aware that you'd be opening retail-style boxes if you are doing iPod touch or if you don't order iPads in 10-packs. The amount of packaging that we recycled or discarded was astounding. Each iPod contains all the materials that a retail customer would get if they purchased one themselves: plastic box, headphones, USB cable, sticker, user guide, etc.
We found it helpful to have this be a 2-person job, with one on database and scanner, the other opening up the boxes and sorting the discarded materials and putting cases on them. This was true for both iPad and iPod touch, although iPad took significantly less time to process (and produced less waste).
You will probably find that this process will take significantly more time that the actual deployment (except for the iOS update and/or the image restore process).
Cases and such
We put together a short article on choosing cases
. Please do not underestimate how difficult or time-consuming it is to decide upon the right case if you are doing a deployment.
More to come in this article...
- Mass iOS updating
- Creating an update station
- Using Xcode
- Mass restore
- Keeping device images on server
- iOS 5: Using the power of wi-fi sync to manage them
- Need Bonjour
- Requires OS 10.6 or above
- Works really well
- Is the future of syncing
- Is NOT iCloud (consumer)
- VPP changes we've made in our process to simplify
- Teachers sync normally
- IT support orders VPP codes to properly license
- Running tab of VPP dollars remaining via Google spreadsheet
- Codes kept on file at Apple through VPP portal- no need to keep them on hand at District
- Other management tips
- MDM solutions
- We don't have one, but can be very powerful systems
- Profile server via Lion server
- Crowdsource profile install manually via web pages
- Local vs. central control of sync process
- Network issues