Looking to boost the versatility of its growing Cloud OS offering is Microsoft, with a new plan for cloud-based management of devices using various operating systems -- iOS and Android as well as Windows 8, RT and Phone 8. 

The plans, announced this week, offer two methods -- the updated Windows Intune cloud-management service or its System Center 2012 systems-management suite.

Updated Intune

Michael Park, Corporate Vice President of Marketing for Server and Tools at Microsoft, said in a statement “with Windows Server and Windows Azure at its core, the Cloud OS provides a consistent platform across customer data centers, service provider data centers and the Microsoft public cloud.” He added that Cloud OS can help take “the heavy lifting out of administration” as IT departments embrace “hybrid cloud computing and the consumerization of IT.”

The fourth iteration of the Windows Intune service was launched in December, with the added ability to manage devices using Window 8, Windows RT and Windows Phone 8. Intune, hosted on the Windows Azure public cloud, already had the ability to manage iOS and Android devices.

Also in December, the company released its Service Pack 1 for Systems Center 2012, which added the ability to manage Windows Server 2012, SQL Server 2012 and Windows 8.

Company Portal

Out of the box, Intune provides the Company Portal that can be stocked with apps. Users can then search, browse and install apps from the Portal, even if there is no connection to the corporate network.

In announcing the new capabilities, Microsoft said that, with “one management console” provided by Cloud OS, IT departments can “crack the bring-your-own-device challenge.”

The company sees its Cloud OS as essentially being a data center in the cloud, with the ability to manage apps, services, data and devices. It noted that such cloud infrastructure capabilities as multi-tenancy, software-defined networking and storage virtualization are included and ready for automated, hybrid cloud environments.

In a posting this week on The Official Microsoft Blog, Park described Cloud OS as doing “what a traditional operating system does -- manage applications and hardware -- but at the scope and scale of cloud computing.” It also includes Active Directory and Windows Azure AD for identity management, a SQK-powered data platform, storage management and virtualization via Windows Server.