Windows smartphones to integrate with Active Directory

Windows smartphones to integrate with Active Directory

Windows Smartphones are to link to Active Directory, according to Microsoft

Windows Mobile devices are to be integrated with Active Directory, which will enable enterprises to manage smartphones using the same policies and infrastructure already used to control Windows PCs, according to Microsoft.

The Active Directory integration will come in 2008 with a new version of the Windows Mobile platform, plus a new server product called System Centre Mobile Device Manager 2008 (MDM). As well as providing end-to-end security and management, this will include a VPN to allow secure mobile access to enterprise resources such as line-of-business applications.

Microsoft UK's Mobility business manager Jason Langridge said that Windows Mobile will effectively become part of the corporate domain, enabling devices to be managed through group policy just like PCs.

"You can set policies to turn off the camera or Wi-Fi, enforce encryption, and provision applications over the air," he said. More importantly, it means that any handset bought through a retail channel or a mobile operator can be turned into an enterprise managed device.

The new VPN channels all traffic from the handset through a company's existing firewall and security infrastructure and is optimised for mobile use. "If the connection gets dropped, the VPN will quickly re-establish it, and any open session is maintained," Langridge said.

Enterprises currently have to deploy a number of third-party point solutions to manage and secure communications with mobile devices, according to Langridge, whereas MDM will cover everything. "It delivers on the need to manage all clients in a single solution," he said.

Support for MDM will come with the next version of Windows Mobile, codenamed 'Photon' and due in the first half of 2008 along with MDM itself. Microsoft said that other versions of Windows Mobile will not support the Active Directory integration, but stated it is working with partners such as HTC, Motorola, Palm and Intermec to enable devices to be upgraded to the new platform.

Microsoft already provides some basic mobile management functions in Exchange 2003 and Exchange 2007, but the new capabilities go above and beyond these, according to Langridge.

"It's giving customers the breadth of options to choose the solution that suits them best. If they only want mobile email, and have no need to deploy applications or a VPN, then Exchange is fine. Mobile Device Manager fills the gaps around management and security for customers that have these needs," he said.