iPad/iPhone – device naming convention for enterprise users

I’ve getting a few questions about suggested naming conventions for these devices.

Based on our initial work with them in an enterprise environment, my suggestion is to stop trying to think about them like desktop/laptop Windows computers.

iPads and iPhone are multi-function devices which can participate in many different services. By design, they only present a service with enough identity to make things work.

While the devices can participate with an organization’s Microsoft Active Directory infrastructure (or other LDAP service), the “device name” which a user can display or change is not the same attribute that would appear in Active Directory as a “machine name”.

Telephony systems will recognize iPhones as phones; and those systems will use the appropriate device identifiers which a Telephony environment expects. A Mobile Device Manager (MDM) will utilize the serial number. The displayed device name is a convince for the owner/user of the device.

Let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past by trying to force users to give their devices some strange name that follows an arbitrary naming convention established by a technology just because it help said wonk identify things in a report from an enterprise infrastructure tool. Inflicting inconvient and confusing naming policies on 2,000 people just so that 3 or 4 IT administrations can save a few minutes a year is really bad business.

Although we made due with such policies for desktop computers, and continued it with laptops, it really doesn’t make sense for mobile devices.

A much better suggestion for naming iOS devices would be to concatenate (combine) the owner/user name with the serial number. None of the management tools for these devices will care. And more importantly, people can understand these names.

If (when) we’re faced with figuring out who left their iPad behind after a meeting, even though the device is locked, we can just dock it into iTunes and quickly see who it belongs to. The iPad won’t let iTunes see any of the device’s content until a passcode is entered; it will only show us the configured device name. Another suggestion would be to use the owner/user email address as a device name. Whatever you decide, keep it simple. If a random person at a hotel’s lost and found desk needs a secret decoder ring to interpret your naming convention, try again.

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