Following the pledge made at TechEd Europe in October, Microsoft has added mobile device management (MDM) capabilities to its Office 365 suite of cloud-based office applications, with the service available in a ‘freemium’ model. The company made this announcement for commercial users on Monday.
The new features will allow the organizations using Office 365 to frame policies limiting the access to company emails and documents from the organization’s authorized smart phones and tablets with the company’s own security criteria. The company can also impose security settings to ensure the users are shielding the devices with PIN or password, according to Microsoft. Also the Office 365 company data can be removed completely anytime without disturbing the personal data.
These new capabilities were stated last year at TechEd Europe but has made available to companies only now. As there is fall in the price for the MDM market, businesses will start expecting to get MDM features on the cloud-based services. As, Office 365 is the main pillar of its commercial cloud business that posts an annualized run rate of $5.5 billion in the last quarter. This is one of the prime reason behind Microsoft adding MDM features to Office 365.
Customers with the company’s commercial plans can switch to Office 365 MDM at no additional charge. Global availability of this feature is expected in next four to six weeks. The Office 365 MDM solution paves the ‘freemium’ gateway that leads commercial customers towards Intune and EMS subscriptions. This can promote Microsoft’s presence in the larger enterprise mobility market, where the markets anticipate to increase from $72 billion in 2014 to $284 billion by 2019.
MDM features are compatible with Apple iOS, Google Android and even Windows phones but not with the recent models of BlackBerry phones. Also, this strategic move of Microsoft will pose a threat for MDM specialists that includes BlackBerry, as there are more companies using office applications in the cloud, with office 365 the runaway market leader ahead of Google Apps. Blackberry is positive about the BES’ ability to boost its software revenue and direct MDM customers toward its other enterprise mobility, but there are chances that attempt can be hurdled by the abovementioned commoditization of the market.
Overall, Microsoft inclusion of MDM services to Office 365 was an intelligent move which provides the company three scale mobility solutions for small, medium and large enterprise customers. It may not make much money on its own, but it would surely improve its commercial cloud and organization mobility ecosystems. But that change, which further reduces the price expectations for MDM services, could prevent BlackBerry’s ability to turn BES into a major generator of revenue.