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Microsoft Intune entices IT pros with Android for Work support

Organizations consider Intune for its Microsoft integration and the company's investment in the platform, including new support for Android for Work.

ATLANTA -- Microsoft Intune continues to draw interest from IT shops, and its new support for Android for Work will further that trend.

IT professionals like Intune, the mobile device and application management tool in Microsoft's Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS) suite, because of its affordability and the ability to integrate with other Microsoft software in their organizations. The enterprise mobility management (EMM) suite's Android for Work support, announced this month, addresses a big need by making it easier for businesses to deal with Android fragmentation, experts said at the company's annual Ignite conference. 

"Adding Android for Work is definitely helpful," said Thomas Pereira, infrastructure analyst at Braspag, a financial software provider in Brazil. "Many Android devices are different versions, so it helps make it easier to manage."

IT departments may have to manage a variety of Android versions because users don't regularly update their OS to the latest version and device vendors customize the OS to their hardware. In Gartner's 2016 Magic Quadrant for EMM, the top flaw of Microsoft EMS and Intune was the lack of support for Android for Work -- a feature many competing products already had. Now, Intune admins will be able to use Android for Work to manage multiple versions of Android devices through one interface.

Android for Work provides an encrypted container on users' devices for business content. Admins can set policies around a user's work profile, including enforcing passwords and permissions on Android apps and blocking app installations.

Anytime you can make things easier to manage and configure, it's important.
Sean Kearneysenior solutions architect, Cistel Technology Inc.

"Intune is great for supporting these devices," said Sean Kearney, senior solutions architect at Cistel Technology Inc., a Microsoft partner and Intune customer in Ottawa. "Anytime you can make things easier to manage and configure, it's important."

Microsoft Intune on the rise

Microsoft EMS saw a 214.2% increase in EMM market share in 2015, according to research firm IDC. Still, it only has 7.6% share of the total market.

Microsoft includes EMS and Intune in some of its popular enterprise licenses such as the Microsoft Enterprise Agreement. Businesses looking at EMM are inclined to consider the software they are already paying for rather than buy a competing product.

Pereira's company, for example, is interested in Intune because the organization uses mostly Microsoft software and would like to stay consistent. It doesn't have an EMM platform right now.

"We just want to control the company assets," Pereira said. "We want to keep users happy but control the work content on their phones and keep everything secure."

Organizations that already have EMM may opt to stick with their current platform because they are comfortable with it.

"We considered Intune and tested it out, but I think because we've been using MobileIron for such a long time, the decision was made to stick with it," said Jordan Mansfield, a Windows Server engineer for Port of Seattle.

Intune supports Android for Work as a preview now; Microsoft has not provided a date yet for the official release.

Next Steps

Assess Intune's mobility management features

Android for Work security features and challenges

Integrating Intune and XenMobile

Dig Deeper on EMM tools | Enterprise mobility management technology