Microsoft has included a bunch of new features that make mobile device management (MDM) easier and more secure in Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2. Let’s take a look at three of these features—Workplace Join, Work Folders, and Web Application Proxy—and highlight some of the ways they help make the business user’s experience richer while allowing IT to maintain a firm level of security on the back end of any device.

Workplace Join

Back in the day, being connected to a network was a black and white idea—you were either joined or you weren’t. Your device either had IT’s support and security behind it, or it didn’t. The new era of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) has, up until recently, put a lot of sensitive data in danger because business users use their personal devices for professional purposes.

Today, new MDM technology like Workplace Join creates a middle ground in the either-or world of network connection. Workplace Join gives IT administrators more control over policies and access, and it lets users access the data they need from the device of their choosing without having to worry about compromising intellectual property or sensitive data. Workplace Join also lets IT enroll mobile devices using third-party MDM solutions like AirWatch or Windows Intune.

Work Folders

As the popularity of bringing a personal tablet or other mobile device to work grows, users find themselves with multiple devices that allow them to work whenever and wherever they want. But this introduces the new headache of transferring files from one device to another, which comes with an entire new set of challenges. Users really want (and need) to be able to work on one file across an array of personal or professional devices without worrying about version integrity or security concerns.

The introduction of Work Folders in Windows 8.1 helps solve this headache of file management and security. With Work Folders, business users can store their business files in a central location and access said files from any Windows device. While convenient for users, Work Folders enables IT to enforce security measures over company data. This can help cut down on the risk of intellectual property and corporate data loss without limiting how users can do their jobs.
Work Folders is part of the File Server role in Windows Server 2012 R2, and it’s currently supported by Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.1 RT devices.

Web Application Proxy

With the aforementioned Windows 8.1 MDM features, users get access to the data they need from any device, but the connectedness puzzle isn’t quite complete. Users still need access to internal web-based applications. Windows Server 2012 R2 includes a new feature called Web Application Proxy that provides a secure solution to this missing piece.

Essentially, Web Application Proxy puts a filter in place to allow IT to grant access to internal web-based applications from an external device. Depending on how the IT administrator configures a published web application, users can access a web-based application from outside of the company network with or without entering a password. Users don’t even have to install software on their devices to access their company’s internal web-based programs.

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