Microsoft announced late Tuesday that it has joined Google's Android for Work program and will support Google's container technology for mobile application management in a future release of Intune, Microsoft's own enterprise mobility management (EMM) server. The Microsoft blog post gave no timeline.
Android for Work, initially released in winter 2015 as part of an Android 5.0 Lollipop update, brought to Android the same level of enterprise-grade protection for mobile apps that had previously been available only to Apple's iOS devices or Samsung's Android devices running Samsung's own Knox technology.
Among the Android for Work capabilities that Microsoft said Intune would initially support are the following:
- Support for work policies, those that apply to the separate container for corporate apps that Android for Work creates on Android devices.
- Unified deployment of Android apps both from the Google Play Store and of private corporate apps developed by or for an enterprise.
- Support for Android for Work policies, which go beyond what the standard Android application policies provide for consumer apps, in IT-developed apps.
Until recently, Intune seemed designed to force enterprises to ditch their existing EMM tools in favor of Microsoft's, such as by not letting other EMM tools access Microsoft's proprietary information management APIs. Intune also did not support Macs, which compete with its Windows operating system.
However, this summer Microsoft began quietly supporting some Mac management APIs in Intune. And since last fall it has allowed enterprises to use its Enterprise Management Suite, of which Intune is an optional component, in concert with other vendors' EMM servers.
That shift let enterprises keep their existing EMM vendor relationships while being able to use the proprietary Office 365 information management APIs. Microsoft has also worked with the leading EMM providers to have them support Azure Active Directory in their identity management capabilities.