Over the last few months while out visiting many communities through TechDays and other events, I often get questions from IT professionals responsible for ensuring that all devices connected to the corporate network are safe, secure, and accounted for. With the influx of consumer-focused devices in the workplace that many of you are facing, having a tool to enable this is even more critical. Today, I ran across a blog post on the Microsoft Server and Cloud Platform Blog on how you can use System Center Configuration Manager 2012 to do many of the things that people have been asking me about.
In the blog post titled “Let System Center Configuration Manager 2012 Help You Enable Consumerization of IT”, Jeffrey Sutherland highlights the three key features of System Center Configuration Manager 2012 (download the eval here) that help you manage non-traditional “consumer” devices:
- Asset inventory and reporting - ConfigMgr automatically discovers all those devices that have connected through Exchange Active Sync (EAS) and collects basic inventory, so you can view them directly in the ConfigMgr console, build device collections and queries, and run asset reports. We also have a bunch of reports built-in to help you analyze the use of mobile devices at your company, such as a useful summary report that breaks out the devices by operating system. And we can even automatically associate the devices to the users, so you can pull lists of just the users who are affected by a policy change or whose chosen device may need to be updated to a newer version of its mobile operating system.
- Settings policy management - Define the default settings policy applied to devices connecting to EAS. Within seconds the policy will be pushed to Exchange and applied to mobile devices the next time they sync. There are close to 50 different policies that may be configured through EAS. Most common, and the most important ones in my humble opinion, are the use of strong PIN, required device encryption and remote wipe. These can ensure that your company's data is reasonably protected regardless of the mobile device choices made by your users.
- Remote wipe - I am calling this one out separately from the rest of the policy management as I believe it has the greatest end user impact, but it’s a critical feature to deal with lost or stolen devices or similar situations. And, if ConfigMgr has the user association information, the end user can self-service this action from the new ConfigMgr Software Catalog (stay tuned for future blogs and demos about the Software Catalog).
You can read the full blog post here. To try this out in your own demo environment, download ConfigMgr from the TechNet Evaluation Center. You can also download the full set of System Center 2012 products from the same location and test out how System Center Operations Manager 2012 can help you monitor all your systems and applications, as well as how to manage your Hyper-V, VMWare and Xen virtual environments with System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012.