There are many Apple Configurator features that you can manage with an MDM, but not all. Apple offers an MDM called Profile Manager that will allow you to wirelessly manage iPads including pushing configuration profiles and making apps available but again it doesn't offer all of the features that Apple Configurator does. I recommend using both… use Apple Configurator AND an MDM like Profile Manager.
There are a lot of MDMs out there. Meraki offers a free MDM called Systems Manager http://meraki.cisco.com/products/systems-manager . You can distribute your VPP codes via MDM wirelessly to your devices, which might make things easier for everyone. There are other MDM's that have more features than Meraki Systems Manager, but they have costs associated with them.
Hope this helps. Good luck with your iPad deployment!
How do you Supervise an iPad without using Apple Configurator? There are many configuration profile restrictions that are only available to Supervised devices. If you don't Supervise them with Apple Configurator prior to enrolling them into an MDM (like Profile Manager), those restrictions won't be available to a configuration profile pushed from an MDM. Is it possible to Supervise a device without Apple Configurator?
A device must be Supervised in order to take advantage of all of the restrictions available to MDMs. To the best of my knowledge, Apple Configurator is the only tool that can "Supervise" a device. Once Supervised, then an MDM like Profile Manager can take advantage of all the restrictions and settings available for wireless management.
(from page 19 of the iOS 6 Education Deployment Guide)
Additional settings and restrictions are available to Supervised devices running iOS 6 or later. Once a device is Supervised these restrictions can be configured via configuration profiles that are delivered via Apple Configurator, MDM or manual download. These restrictions include:
- Single App Mode - Locks user into a single, specified application. If powered down, the specified application will launch at boot. Consider using MDM to enable and disable this setting for dynamic control.
- Global Network Proxy for HTTP - Routes most all device web traffic through a specified proxy server or setting. This setting is applied across all Wi-Fi SSIDs and cellular networks. Install this setting via Apple Configurator in a non-removable profile for strongest enforcement. Consider using a PAC file for greater flexibility with this setting.
- Allow Removing Apps - Disabling prevents users from removing apps from the home screen.
- Allow Use of Game Center - Disabling removes Game Center icon from the home screen. Use this setting in conjunction with disabling both Allow multiplayer gaming and Allow adding Game Center friends to completely disable Game Center on supervised devices.
- Allow iMessage - Disabling removes Messages icon from the home screen.
- Allow iBookstore - Disabling prevents access to the iBookstore while allowing use of the iBooks app for reading books and PDFs.
- Allow iBookstore Sexually Explicit Content - Allow prevents access to adult content from the iBookstore.
- Allow Configuration Profiles Installation - Disabling prevents users from manually installing configuration profiles directly on the device, which includes enrolling in an MDM server.
Is there another way to "Supervise" a device without Apple Configurator?