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Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager and its device management platform Intune prove entirely complementary, thanks to a new connector component.
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Windows 10 is getting some business traction, more than a year following its introduction in July 2015. Windows 10 seldom goes into production without some kind of formal management infrastructure. For many in-house deployments, that involves Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM).
Organizations with smaller networks, branch offices and remote users might also turn to Microsoft Intune, however. SCCM and Intune play together extremely well by design.
What is System Center Configuration Manager?
SCCM provides tools for inventory management of software and hardware. It also provides a variety of client configuration and management capabilities, including image deployment, remote install and upgrade capabilities, compliance checks -- to determine image deployment eligibility, installations and software upgrades -- and more. With support for PowerShell and a sizable library of predefined scripts, SCCM also supports useful automation.
Generally speaking, only organizations that already own or plan to buy SCCM can use it to perform OS installations and upgrades, or to deploy updates and third-party software.
What is Microsoft Intune?
Microsoft Intune offers PC management capabilities from the cloud, and can also manage mobile devices and applications on Google Android and Apple iOS, as well as various Windows Mobile OSes. It's a licensed service so organizations pay per user per month. Intune is designed for highly decentralized environments, which means it's a good fit for mobile workers such as field engineers and sales staff.
Intune excels with Microsoft OSes and applications such as Office 365 for Business. It integrates seamlessly in deployments where System Center manages in-house networks and devices on premises; Intune also takes over to manage mobile devices. Intune's portfolio of features goes well beyond OS and software deployment and management. It offers policy, security, data protection, software updates and deployment capabilities.
Microsoft offers a free 30-day trial of Intune. Companies can extend the trial for up to two additional 30-day increments by calling the country number on this assisted phone support for Microsoft Intune list and simply asking for an extension.
Putting the pieces together: Using Intune with SCCM
Combining SCCM and Intune enables organizations already using Configuration Manager to manage computers in-house to extend the reach of the SCCM console to mobile devices. Such an extension lets employees perform various self-service tasks, such as enrolling personal devices for business use or enrolling corporate-owned devices for management through SCCM.
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SCCM uses the Intune service, but PC and mobile management with the two services actually requires a special Intune connector site system role from within the SCCM console. SCCM also lets admins manage Windows 8.1 and 10 PCs and laptops as mobile devices, so it's not necessary to install the Configuration Manager client on those devices.
With the combination of SCCM and Intune, IT admins can:
- Retire and wipe devices;
- Configure compliance and security settings for passwords, encryption and wireless network access;
- Deploy line-of-business apps;
- Deploy apps to devices through the Windows Store, the Apple App Store or Google Play Store; and
- Collect and manage hardware and software inventory -- the latter through built-in reports.
To bring SCCM and Intune together, organizations must have:
- A running and licensed SCCM environment;
- Intune subscriptions for the devices they want to enroll along with an account at the Intune portal;
- A verifiable public company or organization domain; and
- Accounts with public domain User Principal Name for Active Directory synchronization and a domain name system alias to support enrollment for Windows devices using the manage.microsoft.com domain.
The result is a single, consolidated management console in SCCM admins can use to manage local in-house devices and remote devices with equal ease. For IT shops already using SCCM, it's worth checking out.
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