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Microsoft System Center manages Apple, Android devices

Third-party devices get IT admin tools

Microsoft is recognising enterprise realities with its new accommodations for rivals' smartphones in an upcoming version of System Center Configuration Manager, an industry analyst said on Thursday.

Beta 2 of System Center Configuration Manager 2012, released last week, enables IT to manage user experiences on devices ranging from Microsoft's own Windows Phone to Symbian, Apple iOS, and Google Android-based units. Microsoft's multi-vendor moved was lauded by analyst Fred Broussard, research director at IDC.

"Microsoft, along with the rest of the infrastructure software market vendors, is seeing more enterprises having to deal with endpoints other than the traditional desktop or laptop computer," Broussard said.

"At the same time, vendors are seeing customers move toward having broader acceptance of devices like iPads or BlackBerries or Android phones in the enterprise that might access corporate networks and data. It is in the company's best interest to ensure that the corporate data is protected, yet the users of IT services have access to devices that allow them to be productive. Products like System Center Configuration Manager are now more being pulled in this direction of managing devices like iPads along with managing a laptop or desktop. I do think this is the smart direction for Microsoft to take with this product."

Previously, System Center Configuration Manager only dealt with Windows devices. The multi-vendor approach is in response to a need to secure a wider variety of devices and platforms, a Microsoft representative said. Microsoft's Exchange ActiveSync protocol is leveraged by System Center Configuration Manager. Users can be given access to corporate email while company information is protected.

System Center Configuration Manager 2012 is slated for general availability later this year. Downloadable at Microsoft's website, Beta 2 embraces a consumerisation trend in IT without giving up control over corporate assets, Microsoft said on its System Center Configuration Manager web page.

"System Center Configuration Manager 2012 Beta 2 helps you empower your employees to use the devices and applications they need to be productive while maintaining corporate compliance and control. In today's workplace, the boundaries between work and life have blurred. People expect consistent access to corporate services from wherever they are, on any device they're using, including desktops, laptops, smartphones and slates."


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