Ready to Manage Windows Servers... From Windows Phone 7?

When it comes to Microsoft's managed services strategy, most folks focus on Windows Intune. But Microsoft appears to be making additional progress elsewhere. One prime example: Microsoft recently released Windows Server Solutions Phone Connector. It's a Windows Phone 7 application that allows MSPs to remotely manage Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials.

According to a Microsoft blog entry:

"The Windows Server Solutions Phone Connector add-in enables you to connect to your home, business, or storage server by using your Windows Phone 7 phone. This document provides help for the integration of Windows Phone 7 into Windows Home Server 2011, Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials, and Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials. After completing the integration of your Windows Phone 7 phone into a SBS 2011 Essentials server, you can use your phone to perform remote server management tasks (such as view alerts, manage users, and start and stop backups)."

Pros and Cons

Assuming the Windows Server Solutions Phone Connector works as advertised, I think it reinforces the opportunities and challenges facing Microsoft:
  • On the one hand, Microsoft is in prime position to develop mobile software that helps MSPs remotely manage customers' Windows servers.
  • On the other hand, I hope the Windows Server Solutions Phone Connector strategy involves cross-platform support -- on iPhones and Android devices, in particular.
Much like the days of Windows 95 and Windows NT Server, Microsoft could be tempted to write applications that connect the dots between Windows Phone 7, Windows Server, Windows Azure and Office 365. That's fine. But the software giant must also ensure its servers and cloud platforms are easily accessed and managed from Apple iOS, Google Android and other third-party mobile platforms.

Most of the MSPs I know now carry iPads. And they want to manage Microsoft servers from those tablets. I wonder: Are MSPs using Microsoft apps for such management, or simply deferring to third-party iPad apps?

During Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2011 (WPC11) last week in Los Angeles, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer conceded that the company's smart phone sales had gone from "very small" to "very small" in the past year -- a healthy reminder that Microsoft's server teams need to eagerly embrace third-party mobile devices.
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