Microsoft Intune to Get Monthly Updates Going Forward
As part of an announcement about the February 2014 updates to Intune, Microsoft also announced that it would now rapidly add new capabilities to the cloud PC and device management services “at cloud speed.” More specifically, Intune will now receive new features every month going forward.
Not that February’s update isn’t big news in and of itself. With this update, Intune can now manage Microsoft’s Office mobile apps for Android devices and OneNote app on iPhone and iPad. This means that Intune can now manage not just mobile devices, but also the key productivity apps that run on top of those devices.
“Intune, part of the Enterprise Mobility Suite, is the only solution that manages Office mobile apps,” a Microsoft representative told me. “This is a key as Office continues to be a gold standard for productivity.”
I spoke to Microsoft corporate vice president Brad Anderson about this differentiation back in September. He told me at the time that the market for traditional mobile device management, or MDM, had turned into something of a commodity. And that businesses were looking for a more extensive set of enterprise mobility management capabilities.
Say Goodbye to Traditional PC Lifecycle Management
Traditional IT tools, including Microsoft SCCM, Ghost Solution Suite, and KACE, often require considerable custom configurations by T3 technicians (an expensive and often elusive IT resource) to enable management of a hybrid onsite + remote workforce. In many cases, even with the best resources, organizations are finding that these on-premise tools simply cannot support remote endpoints consistently and reliably due to infrastructure limitations.
Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) is Microsoft’s attempt to address that need. It includes Intune, of course, which provides that traditional MDM functionality plus, increasingly, application management, and also Azure Active Directory Premium (AADP) and Microsoft Azure Rights Management (ARM). AADP provides the identity management piece while ARM is about document and file management, including self-provisioning and self-management so that workers can’t accidently send a delicate internal document to people outside the company. Together, these components of EMS constitute what Anderson calls the “modern core CAL” (client access license) for today’s enterprise.
As for Intune, after a few years of fumbling around trying to make a market—the product was originally targeted at smaller businesses that would never adopt central management capabilities—it’s now being developed alongside System Center Configuration Manager, and the two can be used side-by-side. This is useful for hybrid environments, but also for a typical enterprise where you may wish to lock down PCs using traditional SCCM capabilities, but need a lighter management solution for smart phones and tablets that always exist outside the data center.
Intune was always on a quicker development schedule than SCCM, but with this month’s update, things are about to speed up yet again. But the February 2015 update is itself pretty extensive. Microsoft says it adds the following capabilities:
Management of Office mobile apps for Android devices. You can now manage Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for Android tablets. For example, you can restrict the ability to copy, cut, and paste information outside of the managed app ecosystem.
Management of the OneNote app for iOS devices. Microsoft added the ability to manage the Office apps (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) for iPhone and iPad back in December 2014.
New Windows Phone 8.1 capabilities. Your users can now browse and install apps on Windows Phone 8.1 devices using Intune Company Portal website,
Wi-Fi profile deployment. You can now deploy Wi-Fi profiles to Windows devices and Windows Phone handsets. (Intune already supported the deployment of Wi-Fi profiles to iOS and Android devices.)
Cisco AnyConnect on iOS. Intune adds support for Cisco AnyConnect per-app VPN configurations for iPhones and iPads.
Windows 8.1 encryption. Intune can now require encryption to be enabled on Windows 8.1 (non-RT) devices. (Encryption is enabled by default on Windows RT 8.1.)
Simpler Windows 8.1 updating. You can now set a minimum classification for platform updates to be installed automatically on Windows 8.1 (non-RT) devices that are managed by Intune.
As part of the new feature addition schedule, coming updates will add features such as “conditional access capabilities for SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business.” And those who are using System Center Configuration Manager integrated with Intune will be getting these updates in the near future as well, Microsoft says.