Microsoft EMS updates halt corporate data leakage

Microsoft added new capabilities to its Enterprise Mobility Suite that may give IT shops paying for other EMM platforms reason to make a switch.

Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite received important enhancements for BYOD environments to combat corporate data leakage.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella highlighted the security advancements at a keynote address in Washington, D.C. this week.

Many of the top enterprise mobility management (EMM) vendors, such as MobileIron and AirWatch, offer corporate IT departments the ability to manage their data and applications on mobile devices.

Microsoft Intune -- the crux of Microsoft's Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) -- has this capability as well, but previously, it could only set parameters on if, where and when employees could access and share information if the employee was using a corporate-owned device.

Now, just like the other leading players in the industry, Microsoft Intune can manage corporate apps and data on any Windows, iOS or Android device without the devices being enrolled in mobile device management (MDM). The Microsoft Intune mobile application management (MAM) capabilities will extend to devices that are enrolled on other MDM platforms as well.

Additionally, Box and Adobe will provide new native apps for Microsoft Intune MAM on iOS and Android to prevent accidental sharing of corporate data. Customers who built SAP Fiori mobile apps with SAP Fiori mobile services will also support Intune MAM.

"This is great for BYOD environments," said Rob Smith, research director of mobile and client computing at Gartner Inc., in Stamford, Conn., and one of the five analysts behind the Gartner Magic Quadrant of Enterprise Mobility Management Suites. "It is absolutely an emerging player to watch out for."

Gartner hasn't categorized Microsoft as one of the top five leaders in the EMM market, but interest in EMS has grown significantly, Smith said.

Free is the key to Microsoft EMS growth

EMS is packaged with Microsoft licenses, including both its high-end cloud and enterprise licenses, which many enterprise businesses already own. As a result, many IT shops have the platform, but use another EMM vendor. Having a free mobility suite is a good reason for many shops to give it a try.

It is absolutely an emerging player to watch out for.
Rob Smithresearch director of mobile and client computing at Gartner

"That's significant," Smith said. "It started to take off in the last six months, and it's showing up as a finalist against other top EMMs."

Microsoft EMS has gained more than 20,000 users year over year, while the install base has grown by six times, for what is the biggest growth in company history, Brad Anderson, corporate vice president, enterprise client and mobility at Microsoft, wrote in a tweet.

"When [Microsoft] releases something, it's usually a well-integrated package, so you have to take it seriously," said Stephen Monteros, vice president of business development and strategic initiatives at SIGMAnet, an IT consultant and Microsoft partner based in Ontario, Calif. "That's definitely the reason why [EMS] is doing well."

SIGMANet has been an AirWatch customer since 2003, but because EMS is in Microsoft's enterprise license agreement, the company may switch.

"AirWatch has been doing this for a long time, and are one of the early ones in the space," he said. "That's why we signed on with them, as the others weren't very mature yet."

Despite having high praises for AirWatch being easy to manage, with a well-trained staff and a well thought out package, Monteros said he suspects Microsoft's offering will eat into AirWatch's business significantly.

Compared to other leaders in the industry, EMS lacks in some key areas, according to Smith.  

"It's immature in lots of areas, such as app wrapping," he said. "It has significantly less policies. Overall, it's a young product; it's getting better every day and Microsoft is investing heavily in it."

While Intune supports most Android MDM APIs, it does not support Android for Work. This is something that many other EMM vendors, both small and large, do support.

Okta Inc., based in San Francisco, recently updated its EMM and multifactor authentication platform to include support for Android for Work. Part of the update allows users to enter just one password to have access to all their apps and email accounts -- a feature that was available on some Android devices prior to the update, but now is available on all devices that support Android for Work.

From an IT perspective, fragmentation of Android devices can be tough to manage, which is why better support for Android devices was the No. 1 requested feature Okta has received over the last year, the company said.

"The reason we chose Okta is that it's both Android- and iPhone-capable," said Rick Pollak, IT director at Trunk Club, an online clothing service based in Chicago. "As we looked at other EMM platforms, there were some that were best of breed that only focused on the iOS platform."

Ramin Edmond is a news writer with TechTarget's End User Computing media group. Contact him at [email protected]

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