Microsoft’s MDM Toolset

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I get a lot of questions about Microsoft’s mobile device management (MDM) strategy. It can be confusing because to achieve the full spectrum of management functionality, multiple Microsoft products are required:

  1. Exchange ActiveSync (EAS)
  2. System Center 2012 Configuration Manager
  3. Windows Intune

Can you do some MDM with only EAS? Of course. Can you do MDM with only Intune? Absolutely. So how do you explain this multi-product approach to MDM? Although not strictly true, the way I like to look at it is as a series of layers, with each layer adding additional functionality, and Configuration Manager bringing it all together.

Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) Configuration Manager Intune
  • Configuration Manager, through the Exchange connector, exposes the policy objects in the Configuration Manager console to create collection specific policies.
  • Configuration Manager provides additional value in the form of asset inventory of devices connecting through EAS as well as reporting and compliance management of EAS policies on the devices.
  • Configuration Manager provides the single pane of glass for managing EAS and Intune enrolled devices.
  • Intune provides the bridge to the vendor specific application stores “App Stores” (E.g. iTunes, Google Play, Windows Phone Store, etc.)
  • Additional policies and enforcement
  • Intune provides application management and hardware lifecycle management (enroll, manage, retire).
  • Intune provides interesting options like selective wipe and application delivery.

Microsoft calls this approach Unified Device Management (UDM) since it goes beyond simply managing mobile devices.  Using the MS approach all devices including servers, desktops, laptops, tablets, and mobile phones can be managed with the same tool set.  Some might consider this too confusing and prefer a point solution with less moving parts, however, consider the following:

  1. Many organizations already have Configuration Manager in place
  2. Many organizations already have Exchange or hosted Exchange in place
  3. Using an incremental approach allows you to start small using the pieces you already have without purchasing new software and tailor the solution to your specific needs while controlling costs

Start with Exchange and Configuration Manager and add InTune when and where it makes sense.

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One thought on “Microsoft’s MDM Toolset

    Paul said:
    October 28, 2013 at 9:23 am

    Very clear explanation. Much appreciated !

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