Notes from Barcelona – Empowering and protecting your mobile users

After a day and a half of TechEd, my mind is filled with two words…Enterprise Mobility. And the more I hear, the more sense it makes. Gone are the days where a user had a single corporate device, plugged into the wall with a LAN cable. These days, a user typically has anywhere between 2-5 devices, most of them mobile, and that user fully expects to be able to access some kind of corporate data on those devices. The line between a device for work and another for play is blurred to the point of being invisible, and IT needs to adapt to be able to empower and protect users. EMS isn’t just a product suite, but a concept, which will increase productivity and security for your users.

On any given day, our users, in particular remote and mobile users, are logging into many different SaaS applications on many different devices, most of which are unmanaged. One new way for a company to get an idea of what SaaS apps are in use is to deploy the Cloud App Discovery tool from Microsoft. By deploying a lightweight agent to all, or a subset of machines, you can see which apps are in use, who is using them and how much data is being pushed through them. This can help you identify which apps are used most frequently, and will also show you if these can be integrated with Azure Active Directory to provide secure Single Sign On. Surprisingly the average amount of applications found is around 150! Integrating Azure Active Directory with these SaaS apps will bring a new level of security to your IT environment by controlling the authentication mechanism being used, thus avoiding credential leakage.

Enterprise Mobility covers many facets of securing mobile devices, mobile data and cloud services. Securing your SaaS apps is one,but what about your mobile devices? The half life of a mobile device is getting shorter all the time and it is not feasible for IT to keep track of who owns what device. With Microsoft Intune and Azure RMS in Office 365, you can enable your users to enrol and manage their own devices whilst keeping your data safe and secure.

For example, in order to access corporate email on their mobile or tablet device, a user must enrol their device with Microsoft Intune. Once this is done, conditional access is configured so that corporate data can only be accessed by approved applications. A Word Document attachment in your OWA app cannot be saved anywhere other than OneDrive for business, and cannot be edited by any app other than Word. This way, data leakage is reduced significantly. Policies for this are easy to configure in a few clicks and require no user involvement. The concept here is to enable users by providing access to apps which assist productivity, such as collaborative document management in Sharepoint and OneDrive for Business. However this data also needs to be secured for legal and compliance reasons, and conditional access can address this.

This is just a taste of the features available in the Enterprise Mobility Suite. The concept of integrating your SaaS applications with Azure AD and enabling and securing your users mobile and tablet devices using Intune will significantly improve the security and productivity of your users. Add to this the Azure Rights Management Services and Self Service Password Reset features and you are a much more mobile and secure company. BYOD is a reality and it’s time IT embraced it.

TechEd Europe 2014

TechEd Europe 2014

Today I am packing my bags and preparing myself for a week away in sunny Barcelona for TechEd Europe 2014. This will be the first TechEd event I have ever been to, and to say I am excited is a bit of an understatement!

I’ve got my schedule all planned out using the Content Builder, and have at least 2 sessions scheduled for every single time slot. What with the breakout sessions, hands on labs and focus groups it’s going to be a very busy week!

My focus for the breakout sessions will be around Office 365/Exchange, Hybrid Identity and the Enterprise Mobility Suite. I’ve also got a couple of Windows 10 sessions in there for light relief, but we will see how things pan out.

I am hoping to be writing a daily blog to sum up each days events and I hope you’ll join me on my TechEd journey.