A few months ago we reported that Microsoft was working to displace iPads in the workplace, but now it looks as though the company may have lightened up on its campaign. System Center Configuration Manager 2012 (Beta 2) has arrived and been designed to help IT admins "empower people to use the devices and applications they need to be productive." Read on for the interesting details about Microsoft's seemingly sudden acceptance of commonly used non-Microsoft products ...

"[C]onsumerization is a growing challenge for IT organizations," posits Microsoft of the System Center Configuration Manager 2012 webpage. Indeed, we hear about the issues of securing mobile devices all the time. Users are happy and productive, but the trade-off often is a more complicated and unsecure network. Microsoft is seeking to mitigate the issues related to this evolving trend with SCCM 2012.

SCCM 2012 includes support for:
  • Windows Phone, Symbian (Nokia), iOS and Android
  • An experience delivered to the user based on identity, device and type of connection
  • Streamlined unified infrastructure to integrate client management across all devices
  • Improved Forefront Endpoint Protection integration
  • Improved visibility and enforcement options for system compliance
  • Higher automation, fewer mouse clicks
Microsoft's efforts to provide a unified infrastructure for all mobile, physical and virtual devices is really the keystone to SCCM 2012. By enabling this simpler and more secure way to handle compliance issues, IT admins have the ability to quickly audit, extend or revoke privileges without have to open up entire parts of the network for specific tasks. This layered approach through a checklist of corporate identity, connection and device type seems like a good way to balance access to data with mobility. The beta is currently available for download.

Anyone working with Microsoft in the channel might want to consider SCCM 2012 as a value-add or an upsell, or even a potential future-proofing layer in data center services. It seems nearly inevitable that mobility one day will be the normal working mode. Even Microsoft concedes that "the boundaries between work and life have blurred."

We'll be keeping tabs on how Microsoft handles the integration of mobile devices into its systems.

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