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Microsoft gets strategic with its Enterprise Mobility Suite

Ryan Faas | April 7, 2014
It can't win every battle in the BYOD world, but it can pick the right fights.

A different Apple strategy
Today, Apple's enterprise strategy is very different. The company no longer competes in the enterprise server hardware market and its server OS is aimed largely ar the small business market. Instead of competing in the enterprise hardware or server OS space with Microsoft, Apple designs consumer-oriented devices that incorporate support for Microsoft's enterprise solutions. Macs fit into Active Directory environments much better now. The Mail, Calendar and Contacts apps in OS X integrate with Exchange with no additional software required. (Organizations can use Outlook for Mac, as well.) iOS devices support Exchange ActiveSync as well as multi-platform enterprise mobility management solutions.

Although it sells more to end users in an organization than to IT procurement officers, Apple provides security, management and deployment mechanisms that IT can use to integrate its products securely and efficiently.

Apple demonstrated its commitment to IT's needs in February when it launched its Device Enrollment Program, which allows for zero-touch configuration and management of iOS devices purchased and deployed by an organization. At the same time, Apple released enterprise IT guides for iOS security and mass deployment. iOS 7, which arrived last fall and was updated last month, includes a range of native security and management capabilities, including the ability to volume license apps from its public App Store in a way that allows administrators to deploy them to user devices and then revoke them if the user leaves the company or no longer needs them.

The major theme here is that Apple recognized that it couldn't compete with Microsoft on Microsoft's own turf inside the data center and it stopped trying. That allowed the company to build on its strengths in the areas where it could compete — producing premium products that people want to use for work as well personal tasks.

Microsoft gets smart
Microsoft's support for iOS devices as part of its EMS and the release of Office for iPad point to the company having made a similar conclusion. After three and a half years on the market, Windows Phone is still a distant third behind Android and iOS in the consumer and enterprise markets. The Surface and other Windows 8.x tablets are beginning to gain some traction, but far less and far slower than Microsoft must expected or hoped.

Microsoft simply isn't able to effectively compete in the consumer or BYOD-dominated mobility arenas, but it can play to its own strengths — enterprise infrastructure — and deliver effective business and enterprise products and services to both end users (Office for iPad) and IT shops (EMS). In doing so, it deepens its relationships with enterprise IT organizations while empowering them to use a familiar set of tools to manage the iPhones, iPads and Android devices that are now part of virtually every workplace. That builds a lot of value for the company and for its core enterprise customers.


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