One of the interesting aspects of the Exchange requirement for Mobile Device Management is that it requires an on-premise Exchange server. While this doesn’t suit everyone at this point in time, there are a few things to consider.
While this may appear to instantly rule out Exchange Online users, it’s not necessarily the case. If you are running in hybrid mode to assist in Exchange management, then you still have that on-premise server that is required. However, for users on the P plans, the lack of AD integration is going to be a problem. So far we have a mix of customers sizez and scenarios on Windows Intune, some that won’t be affected by the requirement, but others that will.
For customers on a P plan, I think the idea of changing to an E plan, and then placing an Exchange Server onsite or hosting an Exchange Server with a hosting provider etc is probably not the right approach, unless there is a great deal of additional capability that can be delivered via the E plan vs the P plan, rather than just the Mobile Device Capabilities.
For larger customers who are looking at Windows Intune to manage their remote PCs that are off the corporate network, and who still have an Exchange Server to call their very own, this requirement obviously isn’t an issue, unless they were planning to transition it out at some point soon.
Hopefully the on premise requirement versus being able to use Exchange Online is just a timing issue, different product teams at MS work on different schedules for updates etc, and if that’s the case I eagerly look forward to a more flexible mobile device management option, maybe in the next release… please…
Where this leaves an interesting gap, to me anyway, is the Small Business Server family of products. SBS Essentials is all about the cloud integration (and backup, and local resource access, and AD, I know…), but it won’t enable the mobile device management. Those who have gone down the SBS Standard path will the right infrastructure for the mobile device management, but will cloud based PC management a la Windows Intune may not be on their radar. Why the SBS reference? Robert Crane and Drew Hills’ SBS exam readiness preparation book is available now on Amazon, and I used it as my sole source of preparation to sit the SBS 2011 exam in preparation for the Microsoft Partner Network Small Business competency that is coming up, and thought I would give them two thumbs up for a job well done.