Yes, Microsoft System Center has offered mobile device management (MDM) for quite some time. The old System Center Mobile Device Manager 2008 supported Windows Mobile devices -- a niche but at least an MDM start for Microsoft. The newer System Center 2012 Configuration Manager pushes deeper into MDM. And third-parties like Quest Software have developed MDM capabilities that integrate with System Center. It sort of makes me think Microsoft is well-positioned to grab some serious MDM market share.

Standalone MDM specialists like MobileIron continue to raise venture capital and expand. But MSPmentor believes the standalone MDM market will eventually cease to exist. Particularly within the managed services market, users want a single dashboard for managing all IT devices and infrastructure -- from iPhones and Android tablets to switches, routers, servers, desktops and even printers.

A key example: Most of the major RMM (remote monitoring and management) software platforms for MSPs are gaining MDM capabilities. And this week, Quest Software upgraded its Quest Management Xtensions (QMX) platform. The upshot: QMX extends Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager to more than 120 non-Microsoft platforms -- including Google Android and Apple platforms. Quest Software claims:

  • The Quest QMX extension for Android allows organizations to manage Android smartphones and tablet devices -- including inventory, remote commands (wipe, lock, password reset) and configuration.
  • The Quest QMX extension for Apple includes separate iOS and Mac offerings.
  • For virtual desktop environments, Quest offers the vWorkspace Connector for Android, Connector for iPad 1.2 and Connector for Mac OS X.
Meanwhile, Microsoft itself is connecting the dots between PC management and MDM. For instance, the cloud-based Windows Intune service is gaining support for Apple iOS and Google Android MDM.

While I think Windows Intune, now a year old, is off to a slow start (just an educated hunch), it's clear that demand for Microsoft System Center remains strong. Assuming Microsoft and partners like Quest Software continue to focus on MDM integration, it's a safe bet demand for System Center will continue to grow.

Side note: Reports continue to swirl that Dell and other bidders -- potentially even Microsoft -- are taking a close look at buying Quest Software. In an email to MSPmentor last week, Quest Software declined to comment about the speculation.