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BLOG: How Microsoft and Mobilespaces are using the cloud for MDM

Steven Max Patterson | Feb. 7, 2014
It appears that MDM vendors are betting that the consumerization of mobile apps will follow the consumerization of mobile devices in the enterprise.

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The most compelling mobile apps will drive more of enterprise IT into the cloud. Mobile Device Management (MDM) is shifting to the cloud, too. Microsoft and Mobilespaces just joined Mobile Iron and VMware/Airwatch with SaaS MDM offerings because securing new fast-growing cloud services is much easier than retrofitting older IT applications.

IDC predicts cloud spending, including cloud services and the technology to enable these services, will surge by 25% in 2014, reaching over $100 billion and outpacing growth in the worldwide IT industry.

Microsoft's board understood that Android, iOS, and Windows 8 apps will drive enterprise IT growth, and made that clear by selecting Satya Nadella as Microsoft's CEO. As head of the cloud services and enterprise group, Nadella had already led device-agnostic product developments. The best cloud or on-premise enterprise solution won't sell if users' mobile app portals are just merely adequate.

Only top teams of mobile app designers and developers can build great apps targeted at acquiring audiences of millions of users. These teams obsess over user behavior, design and iterative development, continuously improving their apps by monitoring users' every interaction inside the app with analytics. The user experience (UI) is so important that these teams are increasing staff with expert iOS and Android developers. Due to the cost and scarcity of this talent, hiring such a team is not an alternative for most enterprises and ISVs because their mobile audiences are too small for the investment.

As the amount of time users spend at work shifts from PCs to mobile devices, the enterprise systems they use will move to enterprise cloud services with the best mobile apps because merely adequate enterprise mobile apps will be compared to the much better apps on the consumer side of the BYOD device.

Microsoft's Windows Server & Management group started a device-agnostic course under Nadella before he became CEO, releasing early versions of iOS and Android MDM products in 2013. Last week, Microsoft's Intune MDM became an entirely cloud-based service when many of the policy management features of Configuration Manager were added to the Intune cloud service, eliminating a connection to an on-premise System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager instance.

The announcement was an incremental addition to Microsoft's "people-centric" approach already underway to leverage its strong position in PC management and include heterogeneous mobile devices. Microsoft's direction is to extend its identity management and policies used for Windows devices to heterogeneous mobile devices. It won't add incremental security into iOS and Android, but will build on the security features in these OSes. Compared to the additional burden of managing two separate consoles and synchronizing identity and policy data with a separate MDM system for enterprises using Active Directory and Configuration Manager, a device-agnostic Microsoft Intune service offering is compelling.

 

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