Microsoft continues to assuage IT fears about Outlook for iOS and Android, but it won’t open up its new management capabilities to third-party EMM vendors.
Microsoft will add conditional access and mobile application management (MAM) for mobile Outlook apps through Intune. Access to the app can be restricted based on device enrollment and compliance policies. In addition, actions such as cut, copy, paste and save can be restricted between Intune-managed Outlook apps and personal apps.
When Microsoft introduced Outlook mobile apps for Apple iOS and Google Android operating systems earlier this year, some observers noted security for the app wasn't up to snuff. The apps didn't integrate with mobile device management platforms and could be connected to file-sharing services without IT control.
Microsoft subsequently added more IT controls for the apps, including the ability to enforce company email policies at the device level for users who need a password for email syncing.
The new MAM capability around Outlook apps is a key step for Microsoft, said Chris Hazelton, research director for enterprise mobility at 451 Research based in New York.
"This was definitely something on the wish list [for enterprises]," Hazelton said.
However, Microsoft has no plans to open up MAM support for the iOS and Android Outlook apps to competing third-party enterprise mobility management (EMM) platforms, a company spokesperson said.
Intune MAM for Outlook will be generally available this quarter for iOS and Android apps, Microsoft said.
Microsoft keeps Outlook MAM to itself
Keeping third-party vendors away from managing these apps is a smart play for Microsoft as it attempts to push customers to its Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS), which includes Intune, Hazelton said.
As Office 365 and the Outlook apps become more prevalent on iOS and Android operating systems, the ability to manage those products may draw more customers to EMS.
Chris HazeltonResearch director, 451 Research
"For companies that want to control that data, using MAM to manage Office apps and Outlook is a big advantage for Microsoft," Hazelton said.
Recently Microsoft has taken the big step of offering more and more services such as Office suite apps across different OSes, which significantly impacts their appeal to more customers, said Bob O'Donnell, analyst and founder of TECHnalysis Research LLC of Foster City, Calif.
"Microsoft has a bunch of tools people use that can be delivered across any of the other major operating systems," he said. "Bringing those capabilities to a wider variety of people, besides just their core OS folks, is a huge deal."
Microsoft EMS has picked up 13,000 customers in its first year of availability, the company said. By comparison, EMM competitor MobileIron Inc. recently said it has 8,500 customers and Good Technology had 6,200 customers in Q4 of 2014.
It's been a busy few weeks for Microsoft as it reshapes its mobile focus. At last week's Build Conference, Microsoft introduced a capability to allow developers to port iOS and Android apps to Windows 10 using existing code. While this might add more mobile apps to Windows, it will take more than that for continued enterprise success.
"It's one thing to port your app and it's another thing to keep and maintain it," O'Donnell said. "It's an important step but it doesn’t guarantee them ongoing success."
Intune also supports Windows 10. This includes enrollment, policies, company resource access, app management, inventory, reporting and remote wiping. Microsoft intends to "incrementally add native UI support" in Intune for new Windows 10 features as part of monthly cloud updates.
Microsoft also released a new product, Advanced Threat Analytics (ATA), based on the acquisition of enterprise security company Aorato. ATA is an on-premises tool that protects enterprises from cyber-attacks by analyzing the behavior of users, devices and resources through Active Directory. The product is available now as a public preview.