Apple’s Automated Device Enrollment (often referred to by its older name, Device Enrollment Program, or DEP) makes it possible to automatically enroll iPhones, iPads, Macs, and Apple TV devices with zero touch from IT. When a device is activated, the activation server recognizes it as belonging to your organization and leverages Apple Business Manager or Apple School Manager to automatically enroll the device in your mobile device management (MDM) platform and apply configuration profiles to the device. This occurs directly in the setup assistant and requires no additional work for the user.
As powerful as DEP is, it does have one key limitation. Only devices that are purchased directly from Apple or select Apple Authorized resellers can be configured by DEP. This is because the records of the device and its association with an organization are required to link the device to that organization and its Apple Business Manager or Apple School Manager account.
For iPhones, iPads, and Apple TV devices purchased outside those official channels, Apple Configurator 2 allows IT departments to automate the setup and enrollment process. It isn’t a zero-touch option, but it is a pretty powerful tool. It requires iOS devices to be connected to a Mac running Apple Configurator 2. Apple TV devices can also be configured using a Wi-Fi or ethernet connection.
You have the option to add devices to Apple Business Manager or Apple School Manager using Apple Configurator 2. If you do, users will have a 30-day trial period during which they can unenroll devices from management. After that, Apple Business Manager or Apple School Manager treats them like any other corporate device. You can also choose whether to activate the device with enrollment immediately or allow the user to complete enrollment during setup.