The Lack of iCloud Support in Education

It is well-documented that Apple has done very well in the education market. One area I think they could improve on is integrating iCloud into schools. As great as iCloud is, I cannot roll it out for my school. This includes teachers and students. While a teacher can use a personal iCloud account, it is not something I can support. I am not concerned about data security (it is all stored in our student information system), but rather my lack of ability to reset passwords and troubleshoot for them. Yes, I know that users can reset their own passwords, but anyone who works in IT knows that users just want to be able to call someone and have it reset. I also have no recourse if there are problems with the service. I can't tell my users to contact Apple (they won't do it).

I have been a Google apps for Education administrator for close to three years now. The beauty of this program is that we get all the benefits of using Google services but centralized management. If a user needs a password reset, I can do that. I have a support from Google is their are issues. They even have integrated education specific aspects into their service (i.e. only allowing students to email within the domain). One area Google lacks is the ability to create documents on iOS. Yes, I know there are web apps, but they are terrible. Google seems to be addressing this with their recent purchase of QuickOffice. Once this product is a Google branded product, we will use it heavily internally (and not iWork).

Now you may be saying that personal iCloud accounts is just the way it is and get over it. In the iOS 3 and 4 days, we said the same thing about managing iPads. Apple has DRAMATICALLY improved this process. In iOS 5, they released a lot of MDM (Mobile Device Management) APIs and they also released Apple Configurator. Apple Configurator made it a lot easier to work with the Volume Purchase Program. It also dramatically improved the work flow for loading apps and settings onto iPads in bulk. This was a breath of fresh air for schools with even a few iPads.

I've complained about this to my Apple Systems Engineer on multiple occasions. He said that he understands our concerns and they are listening. Apple has done a lot over the past 2.5 years to change the iPad from a consumer device to a device that IT departments can support. I am hoping that they are working on something for us.