Windows Intune

Windows Intune is the newest addition to the Microsoft Online Services stable…and it’s a biggie! Do you remember System Center Online Desktop Manager (SCODM)? Did you notice that it all went quiet on that front? Well here it is with a new name…

What is it?

Windows Intune is a cloud based, central management system aimed at SMB’s of up to 250 machines (or so).

“Windows Intune simplifies how businesses manage and secure PCs using Windows cloud services and Windows 7—so your computers and users can operate at peak performance, from virtually anywhere.”

Intune covers many of the areas that IT Managers find difficult and time consuming such as:

  • Managing Updates
  • Pro-active monitoring
  • Malware Protection
  • Asset Tracking (Hardware & Software)
  • Remote Assistance
  • Setting Security Policies

Windows Intune screenshot

Extra Features:

It’s not just great central systems management that Intune gives you also get:

Software Assurance: Subscribing to InTune allows you to upgrade all your machines to Windows 7 Enterprise and take advantage of features including:

    • Bit Locker to Go
    • Federated Search
    • Direct Access
    • and more

You also receive

“new features or updates to Windows Intune or the Windows operating system automatically as long as your subscription is active”

so say “Hello” to Windows 8 further down the line 🙂

Despite this, you can run Vista, or even XP, as your corporate desktop OS.

MDOP: The Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack is a great set of tools including MED-V & App-V that make managing your environment easier and more cost effective. See more info here. The Asset Inventory Service (AIS) component of MDOP is already included as part of InTune.

How can I get it?

It’s currently in beta, limited to 1000 customers in US, Canada, Mexico & Puerto Rico. If one of those is you locale, go sign up here:

http://www.microsoft.com/online/windows-intune.mspx

 

Relation to existing Products.

Microsoft have had on-site management products for years. First SMS & MOM and now the System Center family such as:

  • SCCM (System Center Configuration Manager)
  • SCOM (System Center Operations Manager)
  • SCE (System Center Essentials)

These products are becoming more and more popular among both corporate customers and the education sector, and have been marked by Steve Ballmer as an area of big focus for the coming years. Microsoft have also put a lot of effort into their Online Services but could still do with a real killer product to help those small to medium businesses (SMB’s) fully embrace “The Cloud”. Thus it make sense that they’ve combined the 2 and created InTune.

My thoughts are all around how InTune will sit alongside products and offering that already exist. It is very much an online version of System Center Essentials, although InTune can’t do Application Deployment and SCE doesn’t include any ForeFront Protection. A breakdown is below:

image

However I do think that it could cause a lot of confusion when it comes to Software Assurance. As a Channel Licensing Specialist I, and my company, have done a lot of work around Software Assurance – especially as it relates to Windows 7. It seems to me that InTune may well undermine a lot of the work we (and other partners) have done in this area to show the whole range of benefits that SA offers…many of which aren’t included with the new offering.

It will also muddy the waters when it comes to purchasing Windows 7 & SA now. InTune is slated to be available in many more countries with 12 months of the beta; so companies considering Software Assurance within the next 6-12 months (say) may now push the projects back in order to evaluate InTune. Not great for partners or the channel.

Conclusion

As a product, I think InTune is great. I’m a big of BPOS (as a concept, although it hasn’t reached its potential yet) and adding management tools to the Suite is really good way of both bolstering the Online offering and helping more people reap the benefits of Microsoft’s management expertise.

I am however, more cautious about it’s effect on the perception of SA and project timelines over the coming 12 to 18 months.

To find out more about Windows InTune, go here:

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsintune/default.aspx

3 Replies to “Windows Intune”

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