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Device management for Apple IT: What is Apple Business Manager?

For any company with a Mac inventory, Apple Business Manager (ABM) is a must to create and manage Apple IDs or distribute apps and content at scale. It is the link between an Apple device management strategy and company equipment.

Apple Business Manager (ABM) is a cloud-based platform designed to simplify the procurement, deployment, and management of Apple products in organizations, offering a unified solution that enhances control over devices and apps.

Let's take a closer look at what Apple Business Manager offers, its main features and how to get started with the tool.

What is Apple Business Manager?

Serving as a command center for Mac admins, Apple Business Manager simplifies the complexities of managing Apple devices. This web-based platform consolidates the best features of its predecessors, the Apple Volume Purchase Program (VPP) and the Apple Device Enrollment Program (ADE), into a cohesive system.

ABM was launched in 2013 and provides an all-in-one toolkit that allows IT admins to deploy, manage, and secure devices across an enterprise. With ABM, the focus shifts from navigating the intricacies of device deployment , security protocols, settings,and management to leveraging Apple's technology to its fullest potential, empowering organizations to achieve their strategic goals with greater ease and effectiveness.

Apple’s management tools

In addition to Apple Business Manager, Apple offers specialized management tools tailored to specific needs, ensuring that both educational institutions and small businesses can benefit from customized solutions.

apple services

Apple School Manager

For the education sector, Apple introduces Apple School Manager, a service closely mirroring the functionalities of ABM but with enhancements to cater to educational environments. This platform goes beyond the scope of ABM by incorporating additional iCloud storage and specialized tools designed for managing school rosters.

Apple School Manager facilitates a streamlined process for educators and IT administrators in schools to deploy and manage Apple devices to distribute educational content, and create Managed Apple IDs for students and staff, thereby enriching the learning experience through technology.

Apple Business Essentials

Targeting the unique needs of small businesses, Apple Business Essentials appears similar to ABM at first glance, yet it offers distinct cost-based benefits. This includes enhanced support options and additional iCloud storage, among other features, tailored to support the dynamic nature of small business operations.

Unlike ABM, which is designed with larger organizations in mind, Apple Business Essentials focuses on providing a more accessible and budget-friendly solution for managing Apple products, making it an ideal choice for small enterprises seeking to leverage Apple’s ecosystem for their business needs.

Apple Business Manager features

Apple Business Manager features

Navigating the complexities of managing Apple devices in a distributed environment? Apple Business Manager offers key MDM features designed to streamline this process, transforming what could be a daunting task into a manageable and efficient operation. Here’s a closer look at how ABM empowers IT administrators to take control, enhance productivity, and easily tailor the user experience.

Device enrollment

ABM's device enrollment feature automates the integration of Apple devices into an organization’s management system, facilitating a seamless and automated device enrollment process. Devices are automatically enrolled upon activation, ensuring they comply with the organization's security and configuration policies. This feature eliminates manual setup, saving time and resources while enhancing device security and user readiness.

App license purchases

With Apple Business Manager, organizations can purchase app licenses in volume, enabling the centralized acquisition and distribution of essential applications, corporate data, and books across the workforce. This bulk purchasing capability not only streamlines the internal procurement process for business but also allows for ongoing management of app licenses, ensuring that the right tools are in employees' hands when needed.

User assignment

The user assignment feature in ABM allows IT administrators to assign specific devices and content to individuals within the organization. This personalized access approach ensures that users have access to the apps and data relevant to their roles, enhancing productivity and ensuring a tailored user experience. Organizations can maintain control over their assets by managing device assignments at this granular level while optimizing their workforce's capabilities.

Getting Started with Apple Business Manager

Embarking on your Apple Business Manager journey is a straightforward process that unlocks a world of efficiency for managing the Apple ecosystem within your organization. Whether aiming to deploy iPhones, iPads, Macs, or Apple TVs, ABM serves as your centralized control panel, working in harmony with your MDM solution to automate deployment, streamline app and content distribution, and create Managed Apple IDs for your team.

Apple Business Manager

Signing up for Apple Business Manager

The enrollment process is designed to be quick and easy, ensuring you can leverage ABM's capabilities without delay. Any business, subject to Apple's terms and conditions, is eligible to join. Here’s a simplified breakdown of the steps to access Apple Business Manager:

Complete the online enrollment: Begin by filling out the online enrollment form with your organization's details, including your name, phone number, and a valid D-U-N-S number. The D-U-N-S number, assigned by Dun & Bradstreet (D&B), helps verify your business’s identity.

Email verification: You’ll need to use an email address associated with your business domain, as consumer email services won’t be accepted. This email will be linked to the initial administrator account for ABM, which is distinct from any personal Apple IDs or other Apple services.

Verification Contact: Designate a verification contact who can confirm the authority of the initial site administrator. This individual will also accept the ABM terms and conditions on behalf of your organization and assist in setting up additional administrators.

Approval process: After submission, Apple will review your application. This may include verification calls or emails to ensure all submitted information is accurate. Prompt responses to these inquiries will help expedite the approval process.

Finalization: Once approved, the verification contact will receive an email to confirm the initial administrator. This administrator will then create their Managed Apple ID and officially agree to the ABM terms, marking the completion of the enrollment process.

Simplified device enrollment with Apple Business Manager

ABM automates mobile device management integration into your organization and ensures immediate usability. This streamlined process reduces manual setup, allowing for remote device configuration with essential security features and applications.

Automating device setup: Devices from a participating Apple-authorized reseller are auto-enrolled in your MDM solution upon activation, minimizing manual effort and enabling remote configuration.

Customizing setup assistant: ABM allows customization of the Setup Assistant for users, speeding up onboarding by showing only necessary screens and settings aligned with organizational policies.

Leveraging supervision: Devices enrolled through ABM are placed in "Supervised" mode, offering IT admins enhanced control and adding new devices with additional security and management features not available in standard MDM solution enrollments.

Assigning devices to MDM servers: ABM enables setting a default MDM server by device type, automating the enrollment process. Devices not directly purchased through Apple or authorized resellers can also be enrolled manually via Apple Configurator 2, integrating seamlessly into your management ecosystem.

Bulk-purchase apps and books with Apple Business Manager

ABM streamlines bulk-purchasing of apps and books and offers a centralized solution for acquiring and then distributing apps and digital resources across organizations. IT admins can effortlessly buy in volume through the ABM portal, including custom apps, simplifying procurement and management.

Centralized purchase management: Easily manage app and book purchases in one place, enhancing efficiency and control.

Flexible distribution options: Distribute resources directly to devices or assign them to users, offering tailored allocation to meet organizational needs.

License management and reassignment: Efficiently manage and reassign app licenses, ensuring optimal utilization of existing infrastructure and digital resources in dynamic work environments, allowing for the reallocation of unused licenses.

How to manage users with Apple Business Manager


Managed Apple IDs

Efficiently managing users and their access to resources is crucial in any organization. ABM simplifies this aspect through its comprehensive user assignment feature, allowing IT administrators to allocate apps, books, and devices seamlessly to individual users.

Managed Apple IDs: ABM facilitates the creation and ongoing management of Managed Apple IDs, segregating work and personal data while granting access to necessary Apple services.

Azure AD integration: Supports federated authentication with Microsoft Azure Active Directory and Google Workspace, streamlining the integration of Apple devices into your IT ecosystem by using organizational credentials as Managed Apple IDs.

Roles and permissions: Offers the ability to assign specific roles, like Administrator or Device Manager, within ABM for targeted access control and task delegation.

Managed app distribution: Enables administrators to distribute apps and books directly to users or devices, maintaining control over digital assets and optimizing resource allocation.

User lifecycle management: Simplifies onboarding and offboarding processes, ensuring timely access to resources and securing data when access is no longer needed, bolstering data security,and compliance.

Managing Apple devices with GroWrk


manage Apple devices with GroWrk

Integrating ABM with GroWrk provides a seamless management experience for IT administrators overseeing Apple devices in their organization. GroWrk’s platform supports ABM, allowing for the centralized management of Apple devices directly from the GroWrk Dashboard.

GroWrk's platform allows businesses to manage all their IT assets globally, offering a unified solution for deploying, monitoring, and managing different IT equipment within distributed teams, including Apple devices.

Adding Apple devices to the GroWrk dashboard

Incorporating Apple devices into the GroWrk Dashboard is straightforward, thanks to GroWrk's support for ABM’s functionalities. Here’s a simplified guide detailing how to add Apple devices, specifically Macs, into the GroWrk ecosystem:

Configure your MDM setup: Begin by configuring your MDM setup within GroWrk. This step is crucial for unlocking advanced features like zero-touch deployment, which are accessible through Apple's MDM protocol. Follow the on-screen instructions within the GroWrk Dashboard to complete this setup.

Initiate new device addition: Navigate to the “Add Devices” option, located at the top right corner of the GroWrk Dashboard. Select “Mac” as your operating system to proceed with adding Mac devices to your management console.

Choose enrollment method: You are presented with two options for enrolling your Mac devices – via an MDM enrollment profile or through an agent. The dashboard will display the main differences between these two methods, allowing you to make an informed decision based on your organization’s needs.

Download and distribute enrollment file: Once you've selected the preferred enrollment method, download the corresponding file – either the MDM profile in .mobileconfig format or the agent in .ppkg format. Distribute this file among your team members or provide them with a download link.

Complete installation on Mac devices: Team members using Macs will need to install the MDM profile or agent on their devices. This process may require entering passwords and performing a quick restart of the device to complete the enrollment.

Verify device listing: After the installation and setup are complete, the enrolled Mac device will appear in the devices table on the GroWrk Dashboard, confirming that the device is now under GroWrk’s management and monitoring framework.

GroWrk's MDM solutions offer multi-OS compatibility, so you can easily connect and configure Mac, Windows, and Linux devices, letting your team use the system they need to do their best work. Additionally, it makes global onboarding easy and fast while keeping your devices secure and running smoothly.

Request a demo today to learn more about how GroWrk can help your global teams track and manage IT assets across 150 countries. 


What does Apple Business Manager cost?

ABM is a free service Apple provides to help organizations manage their Apple products within a corporate environment.

What is the difference between Apple Business Manager and MDM?

ABM is a platform for enrolling devices, purchasing apps, distributing content, and creating Managed Apple IDs for employees. Meanwhile, an MDM solution refers to the software used by companies to control business applications, software updates, the overall user enrollment process, account management, and more.

What devices can be added to Apple Business Manager?

iPhones, iPads, Macs, and Apple TVs can be added to ABM.

What are the roles in Apple Business Manager?

Roles include Administrator, People Manager, Device Manager, and Content Manager.

What is the difference between an Apple ID and Apple Business Manager?

A personal Apple ID is for individual use. In contrast, a managed Apple ID allows a business to manage devices and purchase apps and content that employees can access across an organization.

What is Apple Business Manager and Apple School Manager?

Both are management platforms Apple offers, with ABM targeting businesses and Apple School Manager designed for educational institutions.

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