Windows Intune (The future of Small and Medium Businesses?)

Windows Intune is hitting the market and making a splash as Microsoft continues to explore cloud services. I’ve used all the features of windows intune and its long term success is really determined on how much polish the product has.

Intune is basically Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), System Center Essentials, Microsoft Forefront, Windows Assistance, and Lifetime Windows upgrades from the cloud. So take all these roles away from your internal servers and are farmed out to the cloud at $11 dollars per PC a month. It looks very promising except Microsoft isn’t always the best at these things, and here is my rundown of the limitations.

WSUS – Easy to install and monitor from your file server with little footprint. Almost no benefit having this bundled in to Intune, other than putting everything in one spot. This is also a free add-on to any server environment

System Center Essentials – I have a love/hate relationship with SCE, and I’m not all that impressed with it. It can be, at times, a nightmare to keep up-to-date with the alerts from the servers and desktops. Its not without its merits, and has been improved since the 2007 version I’ve used. I think having a polished slimmed down SCE for Intune was a great idea. Only time will tell if this is worth it.

Microsoft Forefront – I don’t like forefront, and it does an OK job of virus scans and anti-spam. Personally, I don’t think it would beat a Trend Micro or Symantec Solution, but its not a deal breaker. Again, the convenience of everything in one spot is nice.

Windows Assistance – Never been a fan of windows assistance, because it relies on the end-user to initiate the connection. Direct remote access is needed without end-user assistance, and find this feature lacking.

Lifetime Windows Upgrades – This is where Intune really shines. It offers unlimited upgrades to all computers in your environment. I know we all have windows XP machines still, and having them all upgrade to Windows 7 would be nice.

I think for a small branch office or even a small/medium business with limited IT, this would be a decent solution. I personally think its overpriced and needs to mature more before I’d put my business on this solution. The one thing that would push me over the edge is the Unlimited Windows Upgrades which would be very nice to have. However, Microsoft really needs to step up there game, because they aren’t the only player in the space. My recommendation would be towards Kaseya solution. Its a fraction of the cost $2 per PC, and its been in the market for several years. Kaseya does require a more gifted hand than Microsoft Intune, but would be much better bang for the buck.

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