What Is a APNs (Apple Push Notification Service) Certificate? How Can We Get an APNs Certificate?

Published: 24th February 2011
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With the gargantuan growth of mobile devices, more and more enterprises are adopting a Mobile Device Management solution to manage them. For controlling and managing iOS based mobile devices, an enterprise needs to embrace an iOS based Mobile Device Management solution. An Apple Push Notification Service (APNs) certificate from Apple is a prerequisite for implementing an iOS based MDM platform. These certificates are valid for only iOS 3.0 or above based devices.

What is APNs?

APNs or Apple Push Notification Service is an Apple hosted mobile solution that allows enterprises to communicate with the endpoints in the cloud by sending notifications. Using the iOS based MDM platform, the administrators can push notifications to iOS devices from the cloud anytime and anywhere. Needless to say, the APNs is only relevant for iPhone, iPad or iPod touch devices.

The APNs server maintains a persistent Internet connection with the mobile device. The third party server or vendor interacts with the Apple Push Notification server for pushing any notifications to the iOS mobile device. Once the APNs server receives the alert, it pushes out the message to the iOS mobile device. The user is then notified about the update either by an audible alert, an Alert message or by updating the badge on the application icon. Since the mobile device does not poll to the APNs server every few minutes, there is no unnecessary drainage of the mobile device battery. Apart from improvement in the mobile device battery life, the APNs service also delivers seamless performance over Wi-Fi or cellular network.

Getting an APNs certificate

To reap the benefits of an APNs service, an enterprise must first enroll into the Apple Enterprise Developer program (http://developer.apple.com/programs/ios/enterprise/) by paying an annual membership fee of $299. An Apple Enterprise account must be created for accessing the proprietary iOS resources. Once the user has logged into the Apple Development portal, there is a pool of tutorials, videos and reference documents available for APNs certificates.

For creating an enterprise account, it is mandatory that an organization has

1. A valid DUNs number from Dun & Bradstreet. The DUNs number is a unique number and a widely recognized standard for identifying businesses in the market place and regulatory entities.

2. Approval from Apple for the iOS Developer Enterprise Program. The Enterprise Program permits an organization to develop and distributes iOS applications within the organization.

The Apple enterprise membership needs to be renewed for every passing year. With a single Apple enterprise account, multiple APNs certificates can be created. The certificates are valid for a year, from the date of issue, and must be reloaded every year.

When the user logs into the Apple Development Portal for creating a APNs certificate, it is mandatory that he has an Agent developer account role (Admin role access is not sufficient). The certificate can be generated from either a Mac Server or Windows Server. Regardless of the operating system, the key steps for creating a APNs certificate are:

1. Create a Certificate Signing Request (CSR)

2. Upload the CSR to the Apple Development Portal

3. Download the Signed Certificate/Complete the CSR Request

4. Export the APNs Certificate

5. Upload the APNs certificate to the desired third party MDM vendor portal

The APNs certificate creation process can be a tedious and a tangled procedure. You may refer to this APNs certification guide for detailed understanding of the different steps involved for different operating systems http://links.maas360.com/apns-upload . The screenshots in the APNs guide highlight the important settings for obtaining a APNs SSL certificate.

Finally, after uploading the APNs certificate to the MDM vendor portal, the administrators can manage and execute different actions on the iOS mobile endpoints using the iOS MDM platform.

So, donít wait.Go ahead and purchase your APNs certificate; be a step closer to managing your iOS gadgets!

For more information on iOS Mobile device Management, navigate to http://www.maas360.com/fiberlink/en-US/products/mdm/mdm-for-ios.html

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