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Consumerization of IT at Microsoft

by Eric Kraus

At Microsoft, we have been supporting “Consumerization of IT” long before it was hot industry trend. Our internal IT department (MSIT) has always had a strategic goal of enabling the workforce and not inhibiting it. Employees are empowered to use devices that increase their productivity, including devices running Windows and even devices running non-Windows software.

However, Microsoft sees Consumerization of IT as more than just devices. Here are a few additional challenges MSIT frequently evaluates:

  • Devices (Phones, Tablets, Slates, Netbooks, etc.)
  • Identity (Corporate, Live, OpenID, etc.)
  • Social Media
      -Internal (OfficeTalk, //mysites, SharePoint, Lync, etc.)
    -External (Facebook, Twitter, Skype, blogs, etc.)
  • Cloud Services (SkyDrive, LiveMesh, Google+, Mozy, etc.)
  • Application and Media Marketplace (Zune, iTunes, Amazon)
  • Rich Media (YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, etc.)

With consumerization planning, organizations need to weigh Business Value against Risk Mitigation.


Business Value at Microsoft

Hardware – Microsoft has a 3 tier model for classifying user hardware. MSIT Standard, MSIT supported consumer, Self-hosted consumer devices.

Support – The global helpdesk is tiered much like hardware is. Standard hardware has full support from MSIT, whereas supported consumer products are supported by an offsite third party.  Self-hosted devices have no MSIT support.

Mobile – Microsoft recognizes the EAS (Exchange ActiveSync) logo certification process in determining which devices should be allowed to connect.  Line-of-business applications are supported and identity is handled through an intranet portal.

External Sites – Microsoft supports social media and encourages employees to use sites appropriately through regular training and awareness.  Very few sites are blocked at Microsoft and employees are allowed to connect with other employees, partners and customers through these mediums while at work.

Rich Media – Microsoft does not block rich media as it has become an effective way of distributing information.

Productivity – Enabling Anywhere, Anytime, Any Device mindset enables user to be productive in new ways.

Risk Mitigation by MSIT

Data – Blurring the line between business and personal data is risky.  Microsoft invested a great deal of time defining policies around data security (within IT and within the user population).

Procurement – Based on the tiered model of support, the Procurement department prepares hardware from the standard list as it would normally.  In the case of supported consumer devices, MSIT may work with third-parties to purchase these devices.  Self-hosted devices are purchased by the end user.

Provisioning – Microsoft manages both standard and supported devices under tools such as System Center – Configuration Manager. At this time, consumer devices are unmanaged and are the sole responsibility of the end user.

Software – Some applications are known to be problematic (e.g. peer-to-peer sharing software). Those software packages are among the few that are blocked from running on managed devices.

Management – Both standard and supported devices are domain joined and grant CorpNet (intranet) access. Self-hosted devices are not managed by MSIT.  However, there is limited connectivity to CorpNet available for these devices.

Support – Because all standard MSIT devices include a TPM chip, those devices in addition to supported consumer devices that also have a TPM chip, are allowed to configure DirectAccess. Consumer devices that do not meet these requirements must connect through Exchange ActiveSync.

Training – Microsoft has developed training modules on effective use of public social media tools.  Microsoft employees are also required to participate in regular training around disclosures and confidentiality.


As a Microsoft employee, I am able to choose the right device to do my job most effectively.  As a user, there is little thought I need to invest when it comes to how I connect a device to do my job.  The experience is seamless.  More than ever Microsoft is making investments in supporting multiple platforms, heterogeneous environments, and enabling users with a word-class software experience.

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