Microsoft extends system management to Apple, Android devices

The move toward offering support for third-party devices shows that Microsoft is embracing the consumerization of IT

Microsoft is recognizing enterprise realities with its new accommodations for rivals' smartphones in an upcoming version of System Center Configuration Manager, an industry analyst said on Thursday.

Beta 2 of System Center Configuration Manager 2012, released this week, enables IT to manage user experiences on devices ranging from Microsoft's own Windows Phone to Symbian, Apple iOS, and Google Android-based units. Microsoft's multi-vendor moved was lauded by analyst Fred Broussard, research director at IDC.

[ Learn how to manage iPhones, Androids, BlackBerrys, and other smartphones in InfoWorld's 20-page Mobile Management Deep Dive PDF special report. | Keep up on key mobile developments and insights via Twitter and with the Mobile Edge blog and Mobilize newsletter. | Keep up with Paul Krill on his Twitter feed.]

"Microsoft along with the rest of infrastructure software market vendors are seeing more enterprises having to deal with endpoints other than the traditional desktop or laptop computer," Broussard said. "At the same time, vendors are seeing customers move toward having broader acceptance of devices like iPads or BlackBerries or Android phones in the enterprise that might access corporate networks and data. It is in the company's best interest to ensure that the corporate data is protected, yet the users of IT services have access to devices that allow them to be productive. Products like System Center Configuration Manager are now more being pulled in this direction of managing devices like iPads along with managing a laptop or desktop. I do think this is the smart direction for Microsoft to take with this product."

Previously, System Center Configuration Manager only dealt with Windows devices. The multi-vendor approach is in response to a need to secure a wider variety of devices and platforms, a Microsoft representative said. Microsoft's Exchange ActiveSync protocol is leveraged by System Center Configuration Manager; users can be given access to corporate email while company information is protected.

System Center Configuration Manager 2012 is slated for general availability later this year. Downloadable at Microsoft's website, Beta 2 embraces a consumerization trend in IT without giving up control over corporate assets, Microsoft said on its System Center Configuration Manager Web page. "System Center Configuration Manager 2012 Beta 2 helps you empower your employees to use the devices and applications they need to be productive while maintaining corporate compliance and control. In today's workplace, the boundaries between work and life have blurred. People expect consistent access to corporate services from wherever they are, on any device they're using -- including desktops, laptops, smartphones, and slates."

This article, "Microsoft extends system management to Apple, Android devices," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in business technology news and get a digest of the key stories each day in the InfoWorld Daily newsletter. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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