Apple TV and Enterprise Wireless Configuration Woes

For months and months Apple hasn't supported WPA2-Enterprise encryption on the Apple TV.

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This meant you would have to either lower your security or create special low security SSID's for your Apple TV to connect to enterprise networks.  

Even worse, I've heard of some bringing in Linksys access points or Airport Express units with little to no wireless security just to attach an Apple TV to the enterprise network.

Annoying.

So annoying that the folks from Educause started petitioning Apple via Change.org to support wireless standards for encryption used by many schools and enterprises (WPA2-Enterprise).

Suddenly in early October, Apple released a new version of the Apple configurator tool that among other things adds "Support for configuring advanced network options on Apple TV".

School and system admins rejoice right?

Not exactly...read on...

When I saw the new Apple configurator version come out with support for more networking options on the Apple TV, I was very optimistic.  Surely Apple wouldn't leave the Enterprise behind on this device. After all, it's great for presentations and interactive demos, perfect for the classroom or the office, right!?

I downloaded the new version of configurator, plugged in my Apple TV with a micro usb cable to my Mac and proceeded to configure a new profile for the device just like I've done for iPad's and iPod's that need to connect to the wireless network.

I pushed the profile to the device and everything looked great, the profile installed on the Apple TV, then it saw the network and even successfully leased an IP address.  I browsed Netflix and Hulu and played a few sample trailers just to be sure it was working.  It was.

Great! I thought, we can start deploying more Apple TV's now...

I had spoken too soon.  I wanted to test cold booting the Apple TV to make sure that the profile stuck and there wasn't any other weirdness.  When I removed power and then powered it up again this is what I saw:

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This screen spun and spun for about 3 or 4 minutes then finally ended up here:

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Your Apple TV isn't connected to the network.  Argh!  After a few minutes of Googling, a colleague of mine said it probably couldn't connect to the network/internet to set the time via Apple's NTP servers.

I found this post from poor Barry on the Apple forums.  So it wasn't just me.

Others seem to be experiencing this as well.

My ultimate "fix" was to plug in an Ethernet cable to the ATV, let it boot to get the time, then unplug the Ethernet cable and they watch it magically connect to the enterprise wireless network.  

Not elegant, but it works.

Barry from the Apple forum post had his own work around which was to connect to a different wireless network which is presumably open so the device can set the time and date, then he switches over to the enterprise network.  Again, not elegant, but it works.

I don't want to bash Apple, I just want to provide a place on the web that documented this as it was a real source of frustration for me and hopefully this can help others that find it.

I also completely concur with Educause's petition closing which states:

Providing support for Bonjour and Airplay Technologies on enterprise networks would benefit both our institutions and Apple by allowing Apple device owners the ability to use their devices as teaching and research aids, increasing the utility of and desirability of those devices.

We would be happy to collaborate with Apple in improving the support for these devices in our environments.

Hopefully this helps a few people out there that have helped me so many times.

Squarespace Awesomeness...

Squarespace is amazing.  They have been utlizing a "human bucket brigade to carry fuel to a generator to keep systems online for the past several days since Hurricane Sandy.  Follow the details on their status site:  status.squarespace.com

We have been running hour by hour by manually carrying fuel to our generators (17 floors) with support from the building. As the night goes on, this is becoming a bit more difficult to sustain, as fuel trucks will appear more intermittently. For now, we remain online. Thank you all for your patience.
— http://status.squarespace.com/post/34667013141/update-7-39pm-et