As more companies move toward a remote infrastructure, many IT firms are addressing their needs in the form of systems management tools. In early 2008, Microsoft welcomed a new breed to the System Center suite, Mobile Device Manager (MDM), a product designed to give administrators on-the-go management capabilities straight from their mobile devices.
System Center Mobile Device Manager 2008 is Microsoft's first-generation product, integrating many of the same functionalities administrators manage with their computers.
Essentially, MDM 2008 combines Active Directory, Group Policy Preferences and Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) so administrators can securely control over 130 policies remotely. One of the most convenient features of Mobile Device Manager, however, is the mobile VPN component, which provides network application management capabilities.
In terms of device support, well, there isn't any for those outside the Windows domain, but MDM 2008 does support Windows Mobile 6.1 smartphones and PDAs.
While there is still no support for non-Windows devices yet, Microsoft did improve several features with the first service pack, released in late 2008. Among the most notable changes are multiple instance deployments, an upgrade in the number of MDM deployments that can occur in an Active Directory forest. Other developments address Active Directory support, security enhancements and increased scalability.
As one of the top competitors in the mobile systems management genre, Microsoft's Mobile Device Manager is expected to gain increased attention from companies seeking mobile management functionality and integration capabilities from products like System Center Operations Manager.
- Virtualization extendibility – Mobile Device Manager 2008 SP1 supports Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V capabilities for more efficient virtual machine deployments.
- Speedier self-service – The MDM self-service portal is no longer part of the toolkit, but is instead included with Mobile Device Manager 2008 SP1 to eliminate manual downloads. Microsoft also updated the MDM self-service portal by adding auto discovery capability for more efficient access management.
- Fail-safe connection capability – Not only does the mobile VPN provide network management support, but it also features an "always on" connection so users won't lose their work in the midst of a failed connection.
- Mobile device admin options leave IT shops wanting
System Center Mobile Device Manager has several on-the-go systems management functions -- but it may not be enough for system admins.