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Microsoft enters enterprise mobility management game with new platform

Microsoft may be late getting in the EMM game, but analysts believe its integration with familiar products like System Center may give them a leg up.

With the release of Microsoft's new enterprise mobility management platform, analysts believe the computing giant has taken a necessary step to enter a growing market.

Whether the familiar name of Microsoft is enough to sway prospective customers remains to be seen, however.

IT is like water. [It wants] to follow the path of least resistance.

Benjamin Robbins,
mobile analyst, Palador Inc.

Microsoft's enterprise mobility management (EMM) platform will include Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center Configuration Manager 2012 R2 and the cloud-based Windows Intune.

The new Microsoft EMM will include components for mobile device management (MDM), mobile application management (MAM), information and content, according to Rob Tiffany, Microsoft mobile strategist.

While Microsoft is new to the EMM market, it does hold a significant advantage -- familiarity. Enterprises that are comfortable with System Center could make businesses more willing to try its EMM platform.

"Microsoft isn't a first mover," said Benjamin Robbins, a mobile analyst and principal at Seattle-based Palador Inc. "But they are using the advantage they have in some of their existing features, like Active Directory, System Center and their cloud capabilities."

"IT is like water," Robbins said. "[It wants] to follow the path of least resistance. … [It] may want to try this rather than going to an unknown."

The process of getting into the EMM game has been a slow one for Microsoft, according to Bob Egan, a mobile market analyst and founder and CEO of Falmouth, Mass.-based Sepharim Group.

"Slowly, they've been working on the mobile interface side," Egan said. "This is a necessary component of their system going forward."

Microsoft's 'core MDM stuff'

Tiffany said the release last week was a long time coming.

"Over a year ago, we started beefing up our MDM and MAM capabilities," Tiffany said. "We created a connector that allowed our System Center to flow through Intune."

Much of the new release includes "core MDM stuff" enterprises expect from such a platform, according to Tiffany.

A major component of the EMM platform was allowing Microsoft to leverage "the whole stack" of its enterprise capabilities.

"We talk a good game, but it's all about the data," Tiffany said. "We needed to make sure the system was such that the right people can access the data and the wrong people don't."

While the new platform from Microsoft appears to be "a very nice suite," Robbins believes Microsoft and much of the EMM landscape still have a ways to go to provide the best services for enterprise.

"There are some companies out there like AirWatch that provide these secure content monitors," he said. "They're great, but it's all isolated. It doesn't really provide integration across the enterprise yet."

The new EMM platform is available now for those with Windows Server R2.

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