MMS 2012 Day 2 Keynote: 'A World of Connected Devices'

On the second day of MMS in Las Vegas, John Joyner reports on the highlights: solutions for BYOD, support for iOS and Android devices in Windows Intune, and new tech -- User Experience Virtualization.

The week-long Microsoft Management Summit (MMS) 2012 continues in Las Vegas. MMS is the annual convention of IT Pros that specialize in the management of network users, computers, data centers, and clouds. At MMS there are generally two keynotes, one emphasizing the enterprise data center and cloud aspects of Microsoft's management solutions, and the second keynote focused on the management of users and their computing devices. In a previous article, I reported on the first keynote that communicated the value and opportunity available in the Microsoft private cloud solution.

The Day 2 Keynote title, A World of Connected Devices, incorporates the two concepts: (1) users will leverage a variety of devices to do their work, and (2) whatever device a user might have, continuously available services must connect the user with their work environment. Figure A shows Brad Anderson, Corporate Vice President of the Management and Security Division, communicating a powerful statistic:
  • 34% of employers say they allow employees to access business applications on personal devices.
  • 69% of employees report they use personal devices (not provided by corporate IT) to get their work done.

The huge gap between employer perception, and reality in the workplace, should be a wake-up call to IT shops that are not embracing this new dynamic. Essentially, if users can find a way to do their work on the device of their choosing, they will do it. This means that company data is being processed on "risky" devices outside the control of corporate IT-like it or not. Microsoft technologies like Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) allow safe running of corporate applications on risky devices.

Figure A - Brad Anderson kicks off Day 2 Keynote at MMS 2012

Intune takes Center Stage for Enterprise Device Management

For over a decade and a half, Microsoft's primary client device management platform has taken the form of the Systems Management Server (SMS) product, which evolved into the current product, System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM). SCCM is a management application that runs in the customer environment, or in a customer's private cloud. One year ago, Microsoft introduced a new client device management product, Windows Intune, a public cloud application hosted by the Windows Azure platform. Significantly, Microsoft is locating new support for Apple iPhone/iPad (IOS) and Android mobile devices in the Intune product.

Figure B - Bill Anderson deploys an application to an iPhone using Windows Intune
Figure B shows Bill Anderson, Principal Program Manager, installing an application on Brad Anderson's iPhone in a live demonstration. Windows Intune enables the IT admin to upload native IOS and Android software install packages to the cloud. Using a combination of Windows Server Active Directory Federation Services 2.0 (ADFS) and the Azure DirSync Tool, this architecture lets employees use their Active Directory credentials across devices. Employees use their own device's web browser to log into the Mobile Windows Intune Company Portal, where they will see a Windows 8 "Metro" style mini-web page with a tile to browse and then install available applications.

User Experience Virtualization: Deliver consistency for each user's workstyle

Another new technology debuting at MMS 2012 is User Experience Virtualization (UE-V). This feature is coming to a future version of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) for Software Assurance. UE-V lets users retain their application experience without having to reconfigure applications when they log in from a different Windows instance. During the Day 2 Keynote, both this feature, and the speed with which Windows Server 2012 VDI can be deployed were showcased. Figure C shows Brad Anderson calling up a "top secret" document (humorously listing a dozen possible sites for MMS 2013 and the reasons they were not suitable).

Figure C - Brad Anderson customizes the view size on a "top secret" document
Brad customized the view size on this document using his Windows 8 tablet. The point of the demonstration was that UE-V will persist that view size on a different Windows instance. Brad walked across the stage to Bill Anderson's podium. Bill had the Windows Server 2012 Server Manager console on his screen. VDI was not yet installed -- Brad started a 60-second countdown timer, visible in the upper left corner of Figure D.

Figure D - Brad Anderson times Bill Anderson deploying a VDI environment in less than one minute
In less than one minute, (actually in about seven clicks) a Windows Server 2012 VDI environment was deployed from scratch -- quite an accomplishment considering the complexity of such a technology . Since UE-V (a small service application that runs on the Windows client) had already been deployed (via MDOP) to both the Windows 8 tablet and other Windows computer, the synergy of VDI and UE-V automatically enabled the persistence of user settings across both Windows instances. Returning to his podium, Brad viewed the "top secret" document from another Windows instance and the modified view size was immediately in effect. After the successful demonstration, and in a finale moment, Brad announced the location of MMS 2013: New Orleans!