Your users want to access their work email and calendars and other Microsoft Outlook information on their tablets. You want to make sure those tablets are secure before they access the corporate email server. If you’re in a Microsoft Exchange environment, you can satisfy both requirements with Exchange ActiveSync (EAS).
When users configure their tablet’s native email client to connect to your corporate Exchange server, EAS will inventory the device’s information and will push required security policies to the device. The inventory information allows you to manage the mobile devices being used in your environment, and the security policies supported in EAS include an excellent enforcement mechanism—users cannot access their email unless the security policies are applied to the device.
As an example, if your corporate security policy requires that devices have a PIN or password set, IT can set the appropriate EAS policy, and the user will not be able to send or receive email on the tablet until he or she creates that PIN or password.
Originally created for managing Windows Mobile phones, EAS support has been implemented in other mobile operating systems as well, including HP/Palm for WebOS devices and Apple iOS. It has been available on Android devices since version 2.2, and enhancements have been added in each major Android release, up to the latest version, 4.0.
Android devices will have a varying level of support for EAS policies, depending on the version of Android and any extensions added by the tablet manufacturer. For example, the ability to disable the tablet’s camera with an EAS policy has not been available until Android 4.0, but some Android tablets may have implemented support for disabling cameras in previous versions of the OS.
Many third-party MDM solutions work with EAS for managing tablet devices. These MDM solutions allow the IT admin—often a different person from the Exchange/email admin—to manage mobile devices without interfacing directly with the Exchange console.
This tie-in with EAS allows MDMs to provide a “single pane of glass” for managing mobile devices. This is an important feature for IT when you need to manage a variety of devices. In fact, support for managing mobile devices, including Android tablets, via EAS will be included in System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) 2012 by Microsoft.
Exchange ActiveSync provides an excellent mechanism for keeping track of the Android tablets, and other mobile devices, being used in your environment, and ensuring that they comply with your security requirements. If you’d like more information, check out the Microsoft FAQ.
Have you used EAS in your environment? What’s been your experience? Share your story with our Tablets at Work community.
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