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Mobile Device Management (MDM)

Ever-evolving technology brings opportunities, but only when managed properly. Read, share and learn how to keep users mobile without compromising the safety of their data. Our MaaS360 experts will post answers to your questions about inventory tracking, patch management, policy configuration and more.

Mobile Device Management (MDM)

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  • Joe Pappano
    69 posts
    Community Member

    Apple Push Notification Service (APNs) FAQ

    8 February 2011 (Last edited: 14 June 2012)

    There is a lot of confusion around Apple APNs and certificates. What is APNs? Why do I need a certificate?  How do I get one? Let’s try to clear it up. If you aren’t sure what APNs is or why you need it then read on.

    What is APNs?

    APNs stands for Apple Push Notification service. It is a feature released by Apple with iOS 3.0 in June 2009. APNs allows a 3rd party service (like MaaS360 for Mobile Devices) to send messages (or commands) to any iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch running iOS 3.0 or higher.

    Why do I need to get a certificate to use APNs?

    There are two reasons why you need a certificate to use APNs. The most important reason is that it assures that only 3rd party services that you explicitly trust (by virtue of obtaining a certificate) can communicate with your company’s or employee’s iOS devices. You don’t want just anyone to be able to send a command to ‘lock the device’ to your employee’s iPhone? Do you?

    The second reason is that the certificate is used to encrypt the information that is sent between MaaS360 and the iOS device. So your information is always secure.

    Don’t you have a “Demo” APNs certificate we can use?

    Sorry. Apple doesn’t allow this. Each company must have its own APNs certificate.

    How do I get an APNs certificate and what do I do with it once I have it?

    Here is a bird’s eye view of the process.

    1. Enroll in the iPhone Developer Enterprise Program (watch a brief video).

           – Apple will validate the information you have provided in your application

                 – This takes about 2 weeks

                 - You will be notified via email when you are approved

    2. Generate a  Certificate Signing Request

    3. Upload the Certificate Signing Request to Apple through the Apple Developer Portal

           – Apple will immediately sign the request

           - Congratulations, you now have an APNs certificate

    4. Download the APNs certificate from the Apple Developer Portal

    5. Upload the APNs certificate to MaaS360

           - This let’s MaaS360 talk to your company’s iPhones and iPads through APNs

    Get detailed instructions to help you to complete the rest of the process (steps 2 – 5). Disclaimer – this information is highly technical.

    What if I can’t get an APNs certificate?

    This should not be a problem. Apple will provide an APNs certificate to any business that meets the following criteria (visit Apple’s website for more info):

           – Your company has a Dun & Bradstreet (DUNS) number

           – Your company agrees to Apple’s terms and conditions

           – You company pays Apple a fee of $299 to join the iOS Enterprise Developer Program

    Can I try MaaS360 for Mobile Devices without an APNs certificate?

    Sure you can. MaaS360 can manage iPhones and iPads without needing an APNs certificate.   How do we do this? Simple, we don’t use APNs to communicate with your iPhones and iPads, but instead use your company’s existing Microsoft Exchange infrastructure. ActiveSync is a free component bundled with Exchange. You may not have it turned on, but if you have Exchange then MaaS360 for iOS can use ActiveSync to manage your iPhones and iPads.

    Do I give up anything by using ActiveSync instead of APNs?

    Good question. Managing iOS devices through ActiveSync does have some limitations. For example, by using APNs to talk to an iPhone, MaaS360 can retrieve a list of the software installed on the device. You can’t do that with ActiveSync. Using APNs also provides better management control. Using APNs, MaaS360 can send a command to the iPhone of a departing employee that will remove all the corporate information from the device but leave their personal information intact. You can’t do that with ActiveSync either.

    Is there anything else I need to know?

    The process is really pretty simple. If your company has an SSL certificate to secure your corporate website then you have already done something similar to this. Whoever obtained and setup the SSL certificate for your corporate website will be familiar with the processes and tools used to obtain and setup an APNs certificate.

     Download  a PDF version of the APNs FAQ.

  • billc124
    1 posts
    Community Member

    Re: Apple Push Notification Service (APNs) FAQ

    17 December 2012

    This post is misleading. Maybe not when it was written, but it is now. You DO NOT need to enroll in the Enterprise Development program to get an APNs certificate. If, like me, you have no desire or need to develop any in house apps, just go to this Apple site and follow the directions.




    That's it. Save your 300 bucks if you don't need to develop any apps.

  • vhetrick
    430 posts
    Forum Moderator

    Re: Apple Push Notification Service (APNs) FAQ

    17 December 2012

    Hi Bill - that is correct.  Apple has since changed the process.  We will get this article updated.

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