Microsoft Unveils Intune Mobile App Management Container Tech

Now that Microsoft is no longer a stranger to iOS and Android devices, the company turns its attention to helping enterprises manage their mobile apps.

mobile app management

Microsoft is updating Intune, the company's cloud-based mobile device management (MDM) technology with new features, announced Brad Anderson, corporate vice president of Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise. Chief among them are mobile application management (MAM) capabilities to help organizations gain control over their mobile data.

"We are rolling out the containers (and everything associated with the containers) that enable you to separate corporate data and apps from consumer apps, as well as enable the free sharing of content across corporate apps while blocking the sharing of data from corporate to consumer apps," shared Anderson, in a Dec. 8 blog post. "This work includes a container solution on iOS and Android."

Popular among MDM providers, container technology segments mobile devices into a secure area for business apps and data, leaving the rest for personal use. This helps ensure that sensitive business data doesn't end up on personal cloud storage accounts or winds up inadvertently—or intentionally—shared with unauthorized contacts.

Microsoft's own mobile Office apps serve as a showcase for the company's technology.

"You can deeply manage the behavior of Word, Excel and PowerPoint on iOS and Android, including the ability to restrict actions such as cut, copy, paste, and where users save their files," wrote Anderson. "The Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps in the Apple App Store are instrumented to be managed by Intune and participate in the MDM and container that [are] delivered today."

The same options are available for the preview builds on Android. "With this set of releases, we are now delivering a complete mobile application management [offering] including deep integration with the Office mobile apps as the centerpiece," said Anderson.

Don't expect the same level of integration from rival MDM platforms, he suggested. "In fact, the only way that you can deeply manage the Office mobile apps is through Intune."

Microsoft has been working to bake MDM functionality into its Office ecosystem, Anderson revealed to eWEEK in late October. In early 2015, the company is incorporating Intune-powered MDM features into Office 365. "Now, Office 365 pretty much has MDM built right into it," he said.

The new Intune updates also extend the Conditional Access features issued this month to on-premise Exchange 2013 servers. "You can now restrict access to Exchange online to devices that are enrolled for management and meet the compliance policies you require for corporate email to be used on the device," explained Anderson.

Microsoft Intune now supports the bulk enrollment of iOS devices via Apple Configurator. "We have also integrated with the Apple Configurator to enable the creation of configuration files that can then be imported into Intune to set custom iOS policies," said Anderson.

"Integration with the bulk enrollment capabilities from Apple [helps] to simplify the enrollment process for bringing lots of iOS devices under management," he wrote. "We have also integrated with the Apple Configurator to enable the creation of configuration files that can then be imported into Intune to set custom iOS policies."

Also on deck is a managed Web browser for iOS and Android, along with managed PDF, media and image viewer apps.

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...