Microsoft Enhances Windows Intune, Outlines MDM Vision

Microsoft VP Brad Anderson: 'Microsoft's vision is to enable people to be productive on all the devices they love while helping IT ensure that corporate assets are secure and protected.'

Don't count Microsoft (MSFT) out of the race to win mobile device management (MDM) market share. This week Microsoft is offering a top level view of its mobile device management approach and announcing enhancements to Windows Intune, its cloud-based device management tool.

First, a run down of the new Windows Intune features, which include the following:

Support for e-mail profiles that can configure a device with the correct e-mail server information and related policies -- and it can also remove that profile and related e-mail via a remote wipe. In addition to the unified deployment mode and integration with System Center Configuration Manager, Windows Intune be able to stand alone as a cloud-only MDM solution. There is also support for new data protection settings in iOS 7 -- including the 'managed open in' capability that protects corporate data by controlling the apps and accounts that can open documents and attachments. This update also enables broader protection capabilities like remotely locking a lost device, or resetting a device's PIN if forgotten.

Microsoft Cloud & Enterprise Corporate Vice President Brad Anderson announced these and other plans yesterday in a Microsoft Server & Management blog post, aiming to connect the industry's vision of consumerization and Microsoft's.

'Microsoft's vision is to enable people to be productive on all the devices they love while helping IT ensure that corporate assets are secure and protected,' he said.

Anderson said he's a 'big believer' in managing modern devices from a cloud service, mainly due to the 'rapid pace at which new devices and updates to the devices are released.'

Microsoft's approach to solving complex MDM issues for IT administrators combines Windows Intune and Windows Azure Active Directory, he said. Together, Intune and Azure Active Directory enable organizations to 'define and manage user identities and access, operate a single administrative console to manage devices, deliverapps, and help protect data,' Anderson said.

Microsoft's approach going forward also includes the integration of cloud-based management with System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager. The company said its strategy differs from competitors because it offers unified PC and device management.

New features for Windows Intune help 'organizations proactively manage this new generation of IT,' he said.

And Microsoft has more enhancements on the roadmap.

'Looking ahead to later this year, we will continue to launch additional updates to the service including the ability to allow/deny apps from running (or accessing certain sites), conditional access to e-mail depending upon the status of the device, app-specific restrictions regarding how apps interact and use data, and bulk enrollment of devices,' he said.

As the MDM market heats up between megavendors and independent vendors, channel partners will be stuck in the middle, searching for the right partner. Microsoft's announcement follows on last week's big MDM news: VMware's (VMW) acquisition of AirWatch. Can Microsoft lead channel partners toward the exit sign in a smoke-filled room? Will the company qualify this year in Gartner's (IT) MDM Magic Quadrant?

Follow CJ Arlotta on Twitter @cjarlotta for further updates on the story above.


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