Microsoft Bundles Mobile Device Management In Office 365, Touts It As 'Game Changer'

Microsoft is planning to embed mobile device management technology from its Intune product into Office 365, giving enterprises a way to secure and keep track of employees' smartphones and tablets from within the friendly confines of its cloud productivity suite.

Microsoft will integrate a "subset" of Intune MDM into Office 365 in the first calendar quarter of next year, Brad Anderson, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Windows Server and System Center products, said in a blog post Tuesday.

Customers will be able to "manage iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices that connect to Office 365," Anderson said in the blog post. With the Intune subset, admins will be able to remotely wipe data from lost devices and set up policies for accessing data from Windows, iOS and Android devices.

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While many enterprises already use an MDM product, Microsoft is hoping Intune will appeal to midsize and small business customers that might otherwise get the technology from Google, which offers MDM in Google Apps.

Exchange Active Sync (EAS) is the "most commonly used" MDM in the world, managing hundreds of millions of devices. With Intune, Microsoft is taking the next step toward letting customers manage email and file sync on mobile devices, Anderson said in the blog post.

"The MDM capabilities of Intune represent the evolution of EAS, and this is where everyone using EAS should upgrade to for more feature-rich MDM capabilities," Anderson said.

If customers like Intune, they can upgrade to the full version to get features like mobile application management, including being able to restrict cut/copy/paste and save when accessing line of business apps, Anderson said in the blog post.

Microsoft's Intune MDM will be "deeply integrated" into the Office 365 administrative console, according to Anderson. Microsoft partners told CRN they like the idea of being able to work with MDM and Office 365 from a single management interface.

"This simplifies management and makes MDM easier to use. Previously, we'd have to so some things in the Intune console and others in the Office 365 console," said Ric Opal, vice president at Peters & Associates, a Microsoft partner in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.

Microsoft also sells an MDM product called Enterprise Mobility Suite, a licensing bundle of Intune, Azure Active Directory and Azure Rights Management Services that debuted in March.

Intune hasn't been a huge hit in the three years since its launch, but Anderson said Microsoft expects to have "tens of millions" of devices under management once the integration with Office 365 is complete.

"Intune will become the most commonly used MDM/EMM solution on the market, and, as that usage scales, we will constantly be learning from that volume of usage," Anderson said in the blog post.