One of the more interesting conversations I had at the Microsoft Worldwide Partners Conference this week concerned an initiative they have launched to help IT understand – and get under control – proliferating ungoverned SaaS applications. Brad Anderson, Corporate VP for Cloud and Mobility, told the 16,000 attendees that enterprises need help. “We ask them how many SaaS apps they have in their environment and they usually tell us 30-40. We audit with the Cloud App Discovery tool and find , on average, over 300.” And are these managed? One can only imagine…
The tool is in preview now, and a link to try it out for free is provided in Microsoft’s blog, It offers more than discovery – it will permit managers to monitor usage, identify users, integrate apps into Azure Active Directory, and more.
This is part of a larger story about governance and optimization in a hybrid cloud- and on-premises world that enterprises will live in for this decade and the next. Anderson also pointed out that 3.1M smartphones were stolen and another 1.4M lost. How many of these had corporate data on them. Would you know if it happened to one of your users? Can you govern access to corporate data in the apps there, and prevent it from being pasted into emails by someone who gets that phone and uses the saved logins to get at it? Some of these challenges can be handled by policy-based tools.
Getting the apps your users want into Azure, managing them there, and linking the on-premises Active Directory used by the overwhelming majority of enterprises to Azure Active Directory offers the possibility of getting corporate data security under better control before you find out how you look in orange. One of my favorite scenarios Microsoft showed its Enterprise Mobility Suite detecting is “impossible logins” – an hour ago you logged in from Australia and now you’re apparently in Chicago. Software can stop that? Yes.
The context here was Microsoft telling its partners about the opportunities for them to sell these capabilities to customers – and it’s hard to imagine them not wanting to, especially with the incentives, certification, training and co-marketing efforts Microsoft is launching. Expect this to be a major theme, leveraging the power of the crown jewel that Active Directory is in the portfolio in many additional ways to come.