Windows Intune 3.0
Microsoft has just released to beta testing the latest version of it’s flagship cloud device management service: Windows Intune 3. The feature list is lengthy, and for those who have seen Intune 2 in action, the latest version expands in a number of key areas, notably mobile device management, administration and application deployment.
On the mobile device front, Intune will now support mobile devices running operating systems such as iOS and Android. At the moment, Intune leverages ActiveSync to provide this functionality, and thus, is dependent upon an on-premise Exchange server to enable these features. For some organizations looking to go “all cloud” this is disappointing news, but for the vast majority of shops with existing on-premise Exchange environments, it means that the setup time is relatively low. A simple connector is available to install into an Exchange environment which will link mobile devices into the Intune console itself. Once mobile devices are added, one of the cool new features is that they can be tied to individuals, rather than as standalone items.
Intune appears to be moving towards a user-centric model, rather than a device-centric one. This is a major shift for Microsoft, who has traditionally viewed the “device” as being the key in a business environment. Now as many individuals possess multiple devices (desktop at work, laptop for travel, mobile phone, slate/tablet for fun) making the shift to focusing on the user is a huge benefit. Intune also shifts the burden of consuming applications to the end-user, rather than the administrator. The new portal, seen below, allows staff to install apps onto mobile devices, slates or laptops, as well as managed those devices and additionally ask for support from the corporate IT group.
Application deployment has been streamlined in the new release with the addition of a useful wizard to quickly add .msi and .exe applications, not only for Windows machines but also for the Android and iOS platforms. Beingable to deploy apps across multiple devices is a huge win for Intune. Once the applications are published, they’re available in the metro-themed Intune app portal, as seen below:
Installing the application is as simple as selecting it and allowing the process to operate. Finally, in one of the greatest improvements, Intune has cleaned up many of the processes behind the scenes for easier administration. One of the more tedious chores with the old version was the policy creation process. Now, instead of having to build default policies from scratch, Intune comes with default policies pre-baked for easy spinup. In addition, better reporting allows for easier access to providing information to clients. The installation of the client itself is quite easy, and there are only a few moments during the process that might give corporate administrators pause (be sure to uninstall any SCCM client before running the installation, for instance!). In the largest change yet from an administration side, purchasing and provisioning is now done through a new portal, eliminating the frustrating experience many clients had signing up for Intune. Because the new portal mimics the Office365 portal, you’re also able to easily add administrators, and even integrate Active Directory credentials into the mix, giving Windows Intune true integration into corporate environments. See the shot below for the Office365-esque site:
These changes to Intune catapult it to the top tier of management software on the market today. With no infrastructure, deep reporting capabilities, endpoint protection and application deployment to multiple operating systems including mobile devices, Intune is moving quickly to set a new standard for features. New Signature has been working with this particular technology for several years, even before it was released to the general public and we’re happy to showcase the entire Intune solution to organizations looking to drive down the total cost of ownership for device management, and drive up staff satisfaction.