Sunday, April 10, 2011

Humming to the tune


I attending a hands on training course for Windows Intune this week. Firstly, what is Windows Intune? Well, according to the marketing blurb:

The Windows Intune cloud service delivers management and security capabilities through a single Web-based console so you can keep your computers and users operating at peak performance from anywhere. Give your users the best Windows experience with Windows 7 Enterprise or standardize your PCs on the Windows version of your choice.

It is basically a cloud based security and management subscription service from Microsoft that also includes a Windows 7 Enterprise license. This allows you to manage the security updates for a desktop, maintain anti-virus/malware, as well provide remote support. This is all done via a subscription of about $13 per PC per month.

One of the benefits that Windows Intune provides is the ability to aggregate a number of different PC’s into a single console. This would allow an IT Service provide to manage and maintain a number of clients PC’s all from a single web console without the need to invest in their own infrastructure.

There has been plenty of noise from IT Service providers who already have these features via other third part suppliers that Windows Intune is not worth their time and effort (as evidenced in the low turn out for my course). On that score I beg to differ.

Firstly, Windows Intune allows customers to nominate a partner or record. This means that any business so nominated receives a small ongoing commission. Secondly, no other third party management software I know of comes with a Windows 7 Enterprise license. This license allows the user (provided they maintain their subscription) to always upgrade to the latest version of Windows. This is an excellent method to ensure that customers are up to date with their operating system as well as generating migration and upgrade revenue for the service providers.

Windows Intune is certainly not as feature rich as other third party applications already in the market but remember that this is only a version one product from Microsoft. If you want to understand the potential of this product then you only have to look at the onsite monitoring Microsoft already has with the likes of System Center. If Microsoft can deliver this type of solution via a hosted cloud subscription, including a Windows OS license, then it will certainly be a strong player in the market in my opinion.

At this stage I have rolled out Windows Intune to my families PC’s and it is working quite well. I can easily see the machines, their status, security level and what software they have installed. I am interested to see when the next patch Tuesday rolls around how easily I can deploy updates to the machines but it looks very straight forward.

I like what I’m seeing in Windows Intune so far and I am very hopeful for the quick enhancement of this product. Hopefully at the next release they can integrate it with on site Windows Update Services to allow patches to be delivered from a central on site repository. However, as long as the product keep improving I am confident that it is great solution to add to my arsenal.