Microsoft readies tool for managing iPads, iPhones and Android devices

Microsoft readies tool for managing iPads, iPhones and Android devices

Summary: SCCM 2012, when it ships later this year, is going to enable management for iPads, iPhones, Symbian devices, Android devices and Windows Phone 7 devices.

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On day two of the Microsoft Management Summit (MMS), the Softies announced availability of a new beta of one of many products in its System Center family: System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) 2012.

Ho hum? Not according to some of the folks attending and tweeting from the conference. SCCM 2012, when it ships later this year, is going to enable management for iPads, iPhones, Symbian devices, Android devices and Windows Phone 7 devices. That's quite an expansion, given that SCCM 2007 only managed Windows Mobile devices.

Microsoft made available for download as of today, March 23, the second beta of SCCM 2012. (System Center Configuration Manager "assesses, deploys, and updates your servers, clients, and devices—across physical, virtual, distributed, and mobile environments," as Microsoft explains it.) Microsoft also announced this week at MMS 2011 a beta of its System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) 2012 product.

Microsoft is positioning SCCM 2012 as a product that epitomizes the "consumerization of IT" trend in which Microsoft execs are big believers. From the Microsoft Download site:

"Consumerization is a growing challenge for IT organizations. System Center Configuration Manager 2012 helps IT empower people to use the devices and applications they need to be productive, while maintaining corporate compliance and control. The boundaries between work and life have blurred to where people expect reliable, consistent access to corporate services from wherever they are, on any device they're using. Using System Center Configuration Manager 2012, organizations can: Empower people to be productive from anywhere on whatever device they choose. This includes the wide range of devices that connect to Exchange ActiveSync, including Windows Phone, Symbian, iOS, and Android-based devices. Through the new application model, the best application experience can be delivered to the user based on their identity, their device, and their connection."

My first thought when I heard that SCCM 2012 will enable management of iPads is that Microsoft may be undercutting its own argument that Windows-based slates and tablets are inherently better because IT managers can't manage iPads as easily and well as they can Windows-based PCs and devices. If Microsoft makes enterprise management of iPads a key selling point, won't the company be removing one of the advantages it claims for Windows slates?

Because different Microsoft teams have different masters -- and different views of what's needed to drive their respective businesses -- one Microsoft product team may end up doing something that another team may not love. Example: The Bing team is continuing to roll out all kinds of mobile browser enhancements for iPhones and Android phones that Windows Phone 7 users won't get until the end of this year. Another: The Office team has ported OneNote to the iPhone and may end up moving other Office apps to the iOS platform -- a decision that may not be popular with the Windows team, which would prefer Office to remain a crown jewel for Windows users.

Update: My ZDNet UK colleague @sbisson noted that Microsoft is doing away with System Center Mobile Device Manager (SCMDM) and is positioning SCCM 2012 as its successor. However, SCCM 2012 doesn't seem to offer the same set of features and granularity on the device management front as SCMDD does. I've asked Microsoft for confirmation and its migration/support plan for SCMDM customers. No word so far.

Topics: iPhone, iPad, Microsoft, Mobility, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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49 comments
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  • Believe it or not

    Moves like this will actually attract people to Microsoft products. The more they show they care about their customers' needs, the more people will want to be their customer.
    Michael Kelly
    • RE: Microsoft readies tool for managing iPads, iPhones and Android devices

      @Michael Kelly

      Exactly. I have been like this new trend with Microsoft to being open to other technologies outside of their own.

      My organization is looking to using SCCM for it's management features. We are already a pretty heavy Microsoft shop and think we can dump some higher cost solutions and replace it with this and not lose any functionality. Microsoft also made their education licensing pricing much nicer on many of their products and can effectively cut down the license counts on some of their products like Windows and Office that we have to pay for by more than half. Budgets are tight but I am making a case to jump to getting the Full Enterprise CAL for my school district. Initially it may cost a bit more but the following year when renewals come up it will save tens of thousands of dollars each year for years to come.
      bobiroc
      • bobiroc. I agree. I've always found it hard to imagine.....

        @bobiroc
        that many people here, probably mostly those who don't care for windows, tend to focus on up front costs as the selling factor. I never see talk of long term costs here in the talk backs. Even Google's site pages that compare their paid email service to Exchange only allow you to look at costs up to 3 years. And you can see the trend, even with Google's way over blown costs of Exchange admins and servers required, the costs break even at 3 years and the momentum is obviously toward exchange in cost savings after that point.
        I feel the need to stress that the savings actually come sooner than 3 years many times. If you put in 3000 as your number of users with this Google "tool" you'll see they put several servers and exchange admins in the microsoft column. Really? For 3000 users? We manage 1000 users at one site with no dedicated Excahge Admin. All of the daily maintenance is done by operations at a low cost, it's dirt simple to add/remove/change mailboxes. We host 1000 mailboxes on one server. Well, enough on that, obviously Google is going to inflate the Exchange costs in their favor but even they can't make a good case when you look out 3 years.

        We still have 80% of our users running Office 2000. The overall cost on the volume license purchased for that has come out at a few dollars per seat over 10, closing in on 11 years. Google's costs are static and perpetual. Well, they are bound to go up, so maybe static was not a good word.
        In any case, where it the longer term thinking here? Or am I just witnessing an ABM phenomenon which includes a large number of people willing to forsake any bit of professionalism to spread misinformation about MS investments?
        xuniL_z
      • RE: Microsoft readies tool for managing iPads, iPhones and Android devices

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      • RE: Microsoft readies tool for managing iPads, iPhones and Android devices

        My first thought when I heard that SCCM 2012 will enable management of iPads is that Microsoft may be undercutting its own argument that Windows-based slates..<a href="http://www.nationhighschool.com/">high school diploma</a>
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    • I agree

      @Michael Kelly

      I was quite surprised to read this and think it's great news. At least some departments in Microsoft are starting to accept the fact that Windows isn't the only platform out there. Perhaps IE10 for Android isn't such a stretch.
      LiquidLearner
      • RE: Microsoft readies tool for managing iPads, iPhones and Android devices

        @LiquidLearner IE10 for Android? wha!?
        jessiethe3rd
    • RE: Microsoft readies tool for managing iPads, iPhones and Android devices

      Microsoft is slowly moving to portables.

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    • RE: Microsoft readies tool for managing iPads, iPhones and Android devices

      @Michael Kelly Microsoft also made their education licensing pricing much nicer on many of their products and can effectively cut down the license counts on some of their products like Windows and Office that we have to pay for by more than half. Budgets are tight but I am making a case to jump to getting the Full Enterprise CAL for my school district. <a href="http://www.profischnell.com/uebersetzung/japanisch-deutsch-uebersetzung.html">Uebersetzung Japanisch Deutsch</a> <a href="http://www.profischnell.com/uebersetzung/deutsch-norwegisch-uebersetzung.html">Uebersetzung Norwegisch Deutsch</a> <a href="http://www.profischnell.com/uebersetzung/deutsch-schwedisch-uebersetzung.html">Uebersetzung Deutsch Schwedisch</a>
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  • What is meant by Manage?

    Are there details of any specifics on that. The little paragraph was kind of vague.
    bobiroc
    • RE: Microsoft readies tool for managing iPads, iPhones and Android devices

      @bobiroc ... typically it means providing IT security management options to the devices such as enforcing password security with complexity, remote wipe/locate tools, and the like. I didn't read the full announcement yet to know the specifics, but I'm sure those are the beginning tools.
      GoodThings2Life
      • RE: Microsoft readies tool for managing iPads, iPhones and Android devices

        @GoodThings2Life

        I was mainly looking at the line [i]"the best application experience can be delivered to the user based on their identity"[/i] and wondering if that implied that the may have some sort of Active Directory integration maybe by using SCCM to associate mobile devices with specific users.
        bobiroc
  • Pretty Cool

    Being open to other technologies can only result in good for the consumers. Way to go ,Microsoft!
    gourab.mitra
  • Does this change fall under the &quot;If you can't beat them, join them&quot; saying?

    This is actually great news for potential iPad Enterprise deployment in much the same fashion that having Microsoft Exchange tech incorporated into iPhone capabilities helped iPhone enterprise sales.
    kenosha77a
    • Maybe

      @kenosha7777

      But I think it partially has to do with the negative feedback Microsoft got about not being very open to 3rd party technologies and especially the ones that could potentially compete with their offerings. I think Microsoft is on the right track as they seem to be more open to customer input and offering technologies based on that input and what consumers, businesses, and schools need.
      bobiroc
      • MS licensed Exchange support to Apple for use in iOS/Mac OS X for the same

        @bobiroc: reason; they support their own technology even on competing platform. It is a clever thing to do.
        DDERSSS
      • @bobiroc

        You are one of the biggest critics of the iPad out there. Now you have less to whine about.

        That needed to be pointed out to you. Big time.
        LTV10
      • Re: iPad Critic

        @LTV10

        You're right? I am a critic. I see them being marketed and purchased as a computer replacement and I base this information off the people that own one and their level of surprise when they hear it cannot do many things a regular computer can do. When people brag about their iPad they mainly brag about the games the play, the books they read, the videos they watch, etc.. so I think they are a better entertainment device than a productivity device.

        But it is not just the iPad because overall I think the tablet market is young and needs to mature a bit before it can be widely accepted and integrated into enterprise. Of course that all depends on if the manufacturer of that tablet is willing to work with the needs of Enterprise. Like I mentioned below I think that tablets and specifically the iPad have very poor system in place making it near impossible for these things to be used for anything other than a personal toy. At least with Android based tablets we can copy the apps directly to the device and not have to use a proprietary iTunes interface which basically has no other method of payment than a individual credit card or gift cards. For the 45 - 50 or so iPads that my district bought we had to buy individual gift cards (one for each tablet) so it could be associated with a unique email address/Apple ID so that apps could be downloaded to it. Then we had the teachers and students using them use the gift card funds to buy music, movies and games. Then there are programs like the eBook readers that you have to have a credit card for because you cannot purchase books any other way due to the locked system Apple has. I am not alone in this because a few surrounding schools that I have spoken with are experiencing the same issues.

        The couple teachers that are responsible using them have been round and round with Apple and are ready to give up on them.

        So maybe if Apple wakes up and creates a model for enterprise/education then they can be a usable device. That goes for other tablets as well. Since the iPad is the most popular we will stick with them to try and realize what the needs of their customers are. I am not holding my breath though.
        bobiroc
      • @bobroc

        [i]You're right?[/i]

        There's no question mark there. I am right.

        [i]Like I mentioned below I think that tablets and specifically the iPad have very poor system in place making it near impossible for these things to be used for anything other than a personal toy.[/i]

        And SCCM is a major step towards enterprise for the iPad, just as Citrix was earlier on. That "personal toy" as you call it, will be the stepping stone towards the future and a way of not having to rely on using desktops all of the time. It will supplement the desktop, not replace it, and free us from being tethered to a mouse and keyboard all the time.

        The possibilities for this are endless. This is just the beginning so open your eyes and stop being so narrow-minded. It may not suit all your needs right now but the future could be a different story.
        LTV10