Microsoft today made good on the pledge it made back in October to include mobile device management (MDM) features with Office 365 early this year.
"Today, we are pleased to offer the general availability of MDM capabilities for Office 365," said Shobhit Sahay, technical product manager for Microsoft Office 365, in a March 30 announcement. "With MDM for Office 365, you can manage access to Office 365 data across a diverse range of phones and tablets, including iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices."
Office 365 MDM is currently being switched to customers of the company's commercial plans at no extra cost. The rollout is expected to be completed worldwide within four to six weeks.
Mobile management and security have become major concerns for enterprises as workforces increasingly turn to smartphones and tablets to get their jobs done, and technology companies are rushing in to fulfill their needs.
On March 1, during Mobile World Congress 2015, BlackBerry announced that the company was preparing for this year's release of the BlackBerry Experience Suite, a collection of secure mobile collaboration, communications and management modules for Android, iOS and Windows. On March 18, Barracuda Networks extended its Apple iOS-friendly mobile device and application management platform to devices running Google's Android mobile operating system.
Apart from its own cloud-based offering, the multi-platform Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS), Microsoft has elected to help organizations manage their mobile data by incorporating some capabilities found in its Intune product—an EMS component—directly into their existing productivity software environments.
"With today's [general availability], the first app every organization will look to secure and protect now comes with MDM capabilities natively built into it," Brad Anderson, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Cloud and Enterprise division, said in a blog post. "This means IT admins can set up security policies on devices to ensure that O365 corporate email and data can be accessed only on phones and tablets that are managed and compliant."
Office 365 corporate customers now have access to three major MDM features, including conditional access to email and Office content.
"You can set up security policies on devices that connect to Office 365 to ensure that Office 365 corporate email and documents can be accessed only on phones and tablets that are managed by your company and are compliant," explained Sahay. "Behind the scenes, Office 365 leverages Microsoft Intune and the Microsoft Azure Active Directory to deliver this capability."
On the device front, customers can now implement security policies, including PIN locks and jailbreak detection. Jailbroken or "rooted" devices are particularly susceptible to malware and brute-force attacks on passcodes, Gartner discovered last year while compiling a report on mobile security breaches.
Finally, with a selective remote-wiping feature, Office 365 MDM can help prevent ex-employees from coming back to haunt their former bosses. "You can easily remove Office 365 company data from an employee's device while leaving their personal data in place," Sahay stated.