Six years ago today, or so Facebook tells me, I wrote:
“Apple product announcement coming up shortly. I am about to drive to Manchester where tomorrow I need to be on a stand and talk Apple all day.
I did not choose the timing of these two events. Remind me why I do this again?”
iOS 7 was about to be launched and, if it was made immediately available then the clients that would be coming to the event would, no doubt, expect that all the iPads we were showing would be running it. This was in the days before Caching Server and when a trade show stand would have been lucky for have a couple of MB downstream.
A year prior I was in the middle of one of the biggest iPad rollouts that Apple UK had seen with a client that hadn’t tested beta versions of the OS, even though they had a developer account. The release of iOS 6, and the inability to stop users upgrading as they pleased lead to the brakes being put on the rollout mid-stream, when it was discovered that a critical part of their deployment wasn’t properly compatible with iOS 6. Oh yes, and when the new iPads were announced at that same keynote all the old models, which the client had been planning their deployment around, suddenly went end of life and were replaced with shiny new ones. Shiny new ones that only ran iOS 6 and which, both for the above mentioned reasons and because having some of nearly 10,000 users receiving the latest model when others had the “old ones” would have caused discontent in the ranks, would not be suitable. Cue senior management making heated calls to source sufficient quantities of the old, now discontinued, iPads.
Did I mention that we had warned the client that this was likely to happen as experience told us what might happen re hardware changes? No? Well we did and continued to do so for the next few years, but that didn’t stop them placing large orders at the same time of year and constantly seeming to be surprised at what happened. The same with other clients who nearly always seemed to time their rollouts around product launches of some kind.
In the years that have passed most, if not all, of those problems have gone away.
We no longer have to image iPads and then manually configure them for each user but, instead, can have them automatically enrol into an MDM via Apple Business Manager or Apple School Manger, which also deploys all the relevant apps to them.
The settings which we had to have stored in a backup can now be delivered via a configuration profile and well written apps can be personalised for each user via AppConfig instead of a technician having to set up each one by hand.
Caching server has made over the air installs to a large number of devices on the same network less dependant on bandwidth to the internet and App thinning means that the actual binary which is downloaded can be considerably smaller.
While clients can still get access to beta releases if they are registered developers, the AppleSeed for IT Program provides a much more formal way for organisations to evaluate forthcoming releases and ensure that there will be few, if any, issues come go-live.
Finally you can now stall an OS upgrade for up to 90 days if there is a critical part of your deployment that is not yet ready for the upgrade.
Its been 7 months since I left resellerland and in that time a lot has changed for me too. To begin with there were long periods when I hardly paid any attention to what was going on in the Apple world and it has been good to step back from the constant pressure, giving myself a chance to “decompress” as they call it today. I’ve taken on some new stresses though. Being a single father who has now taken over as the primary carer for his 12-year old son, who has some significant challenges of his own that he could do with help on. I initially said that I wouldn’t jump at the first job I saw, that I’d take my time and find something that was right for me. After a while, though, you start thinking that sooner or later you are going to have to take something just to keep the lights on. You then start wondering just how flexible jobs in late 2019 have become, and how easy is it to work around the school run etc.
And then today, as Facebook popped up that memory from 6 years ago, I see a vacancy at a company that I would love to work for and for a position similar to one that I have interviewed for previously, and got down to the final few for. Part of me wants to jump at it, as it could give me just about everything that I want. The other part reminds me that it almost certainly wouldn’t allow me the flexibility that I need. Lots to ponder on.
Just when I think I might be done with this industry once and for all, it reminds me that it might not be done with me just yet.
*but not the one you are thinking of