Guide to managing assets with Intune and Microsoft SCCM

Managing assets with Intune and Microsoft SCCM

A lot of people had trouble with analogies in high school and on the SATs. Here's an easy one: SCCM is to enterprises as Windows Intune is to SMBs.

If you're still lost, have no fear -- we can explain. Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) lets enterprise administrators manage and secure devices and applications. From a single, integrated console, IT can manage App-V, Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (Med-V), Citrix XenApp, Microsoft Forefront and Windows Phone apps.

Microsoft SCCM finds servers, desktops and mobile devices connected to a network and installs software on them. It lets end users search for apps from the self-service Software Center, it can help with consumerization, and it's a great service for bigger companies with a lot of employees and endpoints.

For small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), there's the cloud-based Windows Intune, which does a lot of the same things as Microsoft SCCM, but from a Web portal. Windows Intune can't do all the same things as SCCM, plus the perceived lack of security around cloud computing could keep some businesses away. But for SMBs, it might be just the thing. Check out what else SCCM and Windows Intune can do.

Table of contents:

Significant changes: From SMS to SCCM
Systems Management Server (SMS) never showed up. Why, you ask? It's because SCCM arrived. Microsoft SCCM has a few of the same key features as SMS, but with different hardware and software requirements. Add Windows Server Update Services 3.0, virtualization packs, Forefront security, reporting services and client health, and you've got the recipe for Microsoft's all-in-one systems management assistant, SCCM.

Microsoft SCCM 2012 evolves to manage physical, virtual desktops Today, the term "desktop" doesn't just refer to the big hunk of machine that's sitting under your desk. Desktops are physical, virtual and mobile, and Microsoft saw fit to broaden Systems Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) 2012 to manage them all -- physical and virtual desktops, plus mobile devices.

More reasons to hold off on moving to Office 2010
Whether you use Microsoft SCCM or a third-party product to deploy Office 2010, it may take longer than you think to get things up and running. You may need custom scripts and/or special tests and pilots, all of which can hamper your Office 2010 rollout.

MDOP has it all
Microsoft's Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) includes Windows Intune, Microsoft's cloud-based desktop management console, plus tons of updates. Med-V has a 2.0 version that is 64-bit compatible and integrates with SCCM and Systems Center Virtual Machine Manager. Now IT staffers can manage Med-V guests in the same way they manage virtual machine hosts.

What is Microsoft Intune?
Intune is a lot like Microsoft SCCM, but the two aren't the same. Intune is a simplified version of SCCM that's sold as an online service and is for cloud-based management and inventory. Intune for Windows doesn't have OS deployment or software distribution like SCCM does, but it does offer IT Windows Update management, remote assistance, asset management, customizable security policies and more. SCCM and Intune can be used together, but Intune is great for SMBs that don't have SCCM and don't want to invest in the infrastructure that goes with it.

Managing remote desktops in the cloud
Because Windows Intune helps with managing assets that are widely distributed, it's great for smaller companies with remote workers and lots of endpoints. Intune puts many of the same Microsoft SCCM features in the cloud, which makes desktop management easier for admins. In addition, Intune lets users install line-of-business applications and tell IT which devices to manage.

Managing assets with System Center Configuration Manager
The Asset Intelligence feature of SCCM 2007 helps admins view hardware and manage Microsoft SoftGrid virtualization. Asset Intelligence can also manage software and enable IT to track changes over time. SCCM and Asset Intelligence give IT the ability to customize the catalog and offer enhanced reporting and asset tracking.

System Center 2012 SP1 wait becoming a 'big problem'
The System Center Service Pack 1 will address some of the features that were missing from Microsoft SCCM 2012, such as the ability to manage Windows Server 2012. But admins will have to wait for the release until at least early next year, which could end up being an issue -- there's no way for IT to manage backup Hyper-V on Windows Server 2012 in the meantime.