Intune, Microsoft's cloud-based mobile-device management (MDM) software, now plays better with Apple's mobile device integration solution for IT departments.
The latest service update for Intune, being rolled out by March 7, allows IT personnel "to streamline the enrollment of iOS devices purchased directly from Apple or an authorized reseller with the Device Enrollment Program (DEP)," stated Microsoft in a March 4 announcement. First introduced during last year's launch of iOS 8, the time-saving Apple DEP feature enables organizations to automatically provision iPhones and iPads without setting up each device manually.
Aimed at enterprises, Apple DEP provides "zero-touch configuration," according to the Cupertino, Calif.-based device maker. "Automate [MDM] enrollment for every device, so that when activated, they are immediately configured with account settings, apps and access to corporate services over the air," boasts the company on its Website. "There's no need for staging services, and no need for IT to physically access each device to complete setup."
Apart from fast-tracking iOS device deployments, Microsoft is providing customers of select cloud services with another layer of security. The Intune refresh includes new options that allow administrators to block or restrict access to the OneDrive for Business cloud storage service or SharePoint Online for devices that don't meet an organization's compliance and device enrollment policies. Also new are OneDrive apps management features for iOS and Android.
Microsoft's update features a control that allows administrators to limit how many devices a user can enroll in Intune. Businesses can also now leverage Intune to install .appx files, typically used for manually installing or "side-loading" Windows Phone 8.1 apps.
Finally, the company is bulking up Intune's capabilities in hybrid deployments. As part of the update, Microsoft "will be providing hybrid customers with the ability to create custom [WiFi] profiles with pre-shared keys (PSK) for Android devices," the company revealed. "Delivering new features to our hybrid customers using System Center Configuration Manager integrated with Intune remains a top priority for our team, and you can expect additional hybrid features to be made available soon."
Nonetheless, Microsoft expects that businesses will increasingly turn to the cloud for their MDM needs, if they want to keep up with the pace of mobile innovation, that is.
"It would be nearly impossible for organizations to continually add these updates to their distributed on-premises infrastructure," Brad Anderson, corporate vice president of Enterprise Client and Mobility for Microsoft, wrote in a blog post on the company's enterprise mobility strategy. "By delivering our Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) as a cloud service, we can update Intune as we work with the previews from Apple and Google--and this puts us in the position to make the new capabilities available in the service on the first day of a new release," he stated.