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Channeling the Cloud

Enterprise Mobility Suite Emerges as Microsoft's 'Hottest' Product

Though EMS is still relatively new, Microsoft is touting the mobility management offering as a major competitor of established solutions from Citrix, IBM and VMware.

Just one year after releasing its cloud-delivered Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS), Microsoft says it'll soon become a $1 billion product.

EMS is a collection of subscription-based services offered as one product SKU consisting of the Microsoft Intune PC management tool, Azure Active Directory and Azure Rights Management Service. While customers can buy and use EMS directly, partners can also deliver services with the suite as an anchor to other offerings, or an add-on to Office 365 subscriptions.

Since its introduction, EMS has grown exponentially, Microsoft COO Kevin Turner claimed in his keynote address at the recent Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Orlando. "It is the hottest product we have in the company," Turner told partners. "It grew at over 700 percent. This product has exploded. The market is being made on it now."

Turner didn't predict when EMS will become a $1 billion product, nor can one read much into the 7x growth rate given that it's brand new. But one sign of success with EMS is the 13,000 customers who have signed on for the service in the first 12 months, according to Microsoft. Since its introduction, Microsoft has gone out of its way to push EMS. The company also recently added the service to the Cloud Solution Provider program it launched last year that's designed to let partners deliver complete sets of cloud-based solutions to customers.

Microsoft is also promoting the fact that EMS appeared in this year's Gartner Magic Quadrant for mobility management suites, with Microsoft listed in the "visionary" box, even though key providers of competitive solutions including IBM, VMware, MobileIron, Good Technology and Citrix were landed in the "leaders" square.

Asked why Microsoft was talking up the comparison in which rival offerings came out on top, Andrew Conway, director of enterprise mobility at Microsoft, says becoming a visionary on the benchmark with EMS in its first year "is a very strong first placement." Conway explains you have to look at where Microsoft is going with EMS in a broader context, in that it includes Identity Management as a Service, rights management, device configuration, and control and app management. Another key differentiator, Conway argues, is "we're bringing new capabilities at a very regular cadence."

Conway points out 70 percent of EMS customers already use System Center Configuration Manager. "If customers wish to manage mobile devices and desktops in the same place, they can simply do so by connecting Intune and Configuration Manager together. No other [mobile device management] product has done that deep [an] integration between PC management and mobile device management."

Microsoft has leverage for those who want to attach offerings to Microsoft Azure and Office 365, which automatically put customers into Azure Active Directory. Other good companions for EMS include the new Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics service and Operations Management Suite. At the same time, mobility management is a very competitive market that comes in many flavors, which Microsoft will likely find itself sharing -- not owning.

More Columns by Jeffrey Schwartz:

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.