Microsoft Tackles MDM With Enterprise Mobility Suite

Office for iPad is a big deal. But with the company's unified, cloud-based approach to MDM, Microsoft takes serious steps to carve out a place in the booming business mobile market.

Microsoft has launched a new product called Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS), the software giant's stab at the booming market for business mobile device management solutions.

During his first major press event after being named CEO, Satya Nadella hinted that Microsoft had more to show off than the long-awaited Office for iPad. Delivering a speech laced with references about making IT professionals' lives easier in a mobile-centric and cloud-enabled world, Nadella said on March 27 that "perhaps the toughest challenge for the IT professional is to be both empowering the end user to be able to do what they want to do and at the same time protecting the corporate asset."

Nadella added that the challenge "of being able to take a people-centric approach and yet allowing the IT professional to be a hero" in terms of safeguarding corporate data "is what we want to step up to really do." Microsoft's answer is EMS.

EMS encompasses a set of services that provide cloud-based mobile device management (MDM); mobile application management (MAM) with self-service capabilities; and security and identity management for Windows, Apple iOS and Google Android devices. Specifically, it comprises Windows Intune for MDM, Microsoft Azure Rights Management and Azure Active Directory.

Microsoft brought together those components "into a holistic offering," said Julia White, corporate vice president of marketing for Microsoft Office, during the March 27 press event in San Francisco. "So now IT has one place to go to manage the bring-your-own-device [BYOD] strategy, help in a cloud-based way, do identity and access management as well as protect company data."

The product, claimed Brad Anderson, corporate vice president of the Cloud and Enterprise division at Microsoft, in a statement, "is the most comprehensive and complete platform for organizations to embrace these mobility and cloud trends."

Taking stock of the MDM landscape, "other offerings feature only disconnected pieces of what is needed," argued Anderson. Microsoft's solution, he said, "is simply the only solution that has combined all of the capabilities needed to fully enable users in this new, mobile, cloud-enabled world." Nonetheless, the company once mulled acquiring a major enterprise MDM provider.

CRN reported that Microsoft once considered taking VMware's approach to MDM by buying its way into the market. Several sources told the site that the software giant "was talking with mobile device management vendor AirWatch when VMware made its successful $1.5 billion bid to acquire it in January," said the report.

In terms of cost, "EMS is licensed on a per-user basis," stated Anderson. According to the EMS pricing page, the package costs $7.50 per user per month, a savings of 30 percent compared to subscribing to Azure AD Premium ($6), Windows Intune ($4) and Azure Rights Management ($2) separately.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...