The tools we are using to manage hundreds of student devices consist completely of Apple software. We do use Passenger, http://macinmind.com/?area=app&app=passenger&pg=info, to help create our student user lists for OS X Server ($60 - see their licensing page.) The Apple software and hardware we are using consist of a Mac Mini server, 2.5GHz dual-core Intel Core i5, 8 GB of RAM, 250 GB SSD ($800), Apple Server OS X Server ($19 - http://www.apple.com/osx/server/), and Apple Configurator (Free https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/apple-configurator/id434433123.) (We boosted RAM in case we later want to use these Minis as app proxy servers.)
The key ingredient making this all work so easily are the changes to Apple’s Volume Purchase Program, VPP, and Apple IDs for students. More information about the new features can be found here: http://www.apple.com/education/it/vpp/. Currently Apple’s license allows for students under the age of 13 to have Apple IDs for educational purposes, however information regarding the process is currently limited. The iTunes user agreement states:
“This iTunes Service is only available for individuals aged 13 years or older, unless you are under 13 years old and your Apple ID was provided to you as a result of a request by an approved educational institution. If you are 13 or older but under the age of 18, you should review this Agreement with your parent or guardian to make sure that you and your parent or guardian understand it.”
It is recommended that schools communicate with parents as to the process and purpose for their child’s Apple ID, securing permission and consent before implementing.
The following (25 minute) video demonstrates the process for managing hundreds of iOS devices easily and economically.