System Center 2012, ActiveSync, And The BYOD Revolution

Systems Center 2012, ActiveSync and BYOD

A great deal has changed since 2008 and the onset of the client computing “revolution”. The Consumerization of IT appears to be here to stay and the options and connectedness of our environment continue to increase exponentially. Back in 2008, Facebook (only) had 63 million uses – it’s projected they’ll hit 1 billion worldwide by August. In 2008, Twitter was only a year and a half old. In 2012 there are more than 140 million active users generating over 340 millions tweets daily. In four years, we’ve seen a veritable avalanche of changes and choices that have completely shifted the landscape of IT considerations and opportunities in the enterprise.

It was back in Q1 of 2008 when Apple announced it had licensed Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) from Microsoft for its iOS products (specifically the iPhone). Read this short post for a quick walk down memory lane. Since then, iOS has completely changed the view of what it means to have, manage, use, interact with, secure, provide, decline, buy, sell, and consume mobile information. Although iOS has led the charge, there is still more innovation going on by all major manufacturers, and Microsoft is doing their part to help their customers get ready for BYOD.

Recently, Microsoft announced a huge investment in Barnes and Noble’s Nook division that should pretty much seal its place in the burgeoning tablet market.  With Windows 8 coming soon, and a mythical iPhone 5 coming, there is surely more change around the next corner. Microsoft has been trying to prepare its IT customer base to better handle this avalanche of mobile usage and they’ve hit on a winner with System Center 2012.

In System Center 2012, an administrator controls the behavior of their EAS connected devices including iOS, Windows Phone, Android, etc. through an Exchange Connector. Thus, in this release, Microsoft has moved the management out of Exchange and in to System Center, where it really belongs. While this management style is lighter than full device management it does allow the restriction of settings and the ability to enforce PIN access to the device and even remotely wipe a system.  This level of management is more than what most shops are currently doing today and it is easily accessible. Better yet, the reporting and the inventory will stream in to your existing reports so you won’t need to re-invent the wheel.

For deeper management, products like Quest’s QMX (still in beta), are delivering their solutions to extend this capability.  These extensions will put further capability within System Center’s platform like application and profile pushing to the device.  iOS imaging is not in the cards, but configuring the device and taking control to the next level has become a reality.

With all this in mind, our goal together is to figure out a way to get these devices supported in ways that are easily manageable.

What are the biggest BYOD challenges you’re currently facing? Sound off in the comments below, and in follow-up posts our specialists will address them for you!

And for some additional info on BYOD, read our IT Grok blog post to see our nifty infographic on this hot topic.

-Tim McKellips, Business Development Manager for Softchoice


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About Andrea Malloni

Andrea architects creative and dynamic marketing campaigns for the Enterprise Software line of business at Softchoice. World traveller, music aficionado and urban digital pilgrim. Visit her twitter feed @digitaltincan.