A key component in this new world of mobile workers (whether they be using BYOD or company-issued devices) is the ability to manage those devices using a centralised console.
The Microsoft ActiveSync protocol goes a long way to provide cross-platform Mobile Device Management (MDM) with regards to connecting it to Exchange Server 2010 and Exchange Online however this is primarily based around device security and connectivity to Exchange services. Organisations need more than this, and MDM is becoming quite a hot topic. While the technology and solution sets have not been new – the cloud is opening up the floodgates for more solution providers to flow through and offer their own value propositions.
For organisations that prefer to stay within the Microsoft product stack, keep their licensing simple, offload as many workloads to the cloud, and prefer strong integration – the current release of Windows Intune provides quite a robust feature set of MDM. Granted it is not the same level of functionality as a dedicated MDM solution however for many organisations it will offer far more than what they currently have.
An amazing component of Windows Intune is the fact that it can deploy applications to iOS and Android devices. (Opinion: perhaps Microsoft should have stuck with the “System Center Online” name so as to keep the product marketability more cross-platform).
A recent post on the Windows Intune team blog describes how to load applications onto iOS and Android devices using Windows Intune, bypassing the requirement to publish the app via the Apple app store or implement a 3rd party enterprise deployment technology.