Microsoft Pitches Windows Intune Black Belt to MSPs
Microsoft is reaching out to more managed services providers (MSPs), pitching Windows Intune as a forthcoming SaaS platform for remote Windows systems management. The effort has included private calls with selected MSPs in recent days, and Microsoft will likely hit the road over the next few weeks to potentially discuss Windows Intune at MSP-centric conferences. Plus, there’s a potential twist involving Windows 7 perks. Here’s the update.
As the All About Microsoft blog notes:
Microsoft execs have said Intune will cost $11 per seat, per month, which includes the management service, as well as Windows 7 Enterprise upgrade rights. For $1 per user per month more, Microsoft will also provide the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack of on-premises tools as part of the bundle.
Windows Intune is expected to debut as a production SaaS platform in 2011. In the meantime, Microsoft is increasing Windows Intune outreach to MSPs.
Sweep the Leg…
According to one source briefed by Microsoft, the software giant is launching a “Black Belt” program to get selected MSPs up to speed on Windows Intune. I’ve reached out to Microsoft for comment on the alleged Black Belt effort.
In the meantime, our source MSP is somewhat skeptical of Windows Intune:
The point Microsoft kept hammering was that [Intune] comes with a Windows 7 license. I think they are trying to get Intune in place and then use that platform to upgrade a bunch of folks to W7. But, if you push Windows 7 out to a bunch of Windows XP SP2 boxes (with substandard hardware), you are just going to create a bunch of service issues. So, it is self-defeating. Not to mention, it erodes your margins.
The source says he expects established MSPs to remain loyal to entrenched RMM (remote monitoring and management) tools. Similarly, a source who participates in HTG Peer Groups says the 1.0 Windows Intune service will likely be too limited for established MSPs, though the source says he plans to test Windows Intune more fully when the production service launches in 2011.
Don’t Underestimate Microsoft
Still, I’ve learned to keep an open mind with Microsoft. Plenty of skeptics doubted Microsoft’s early efforts with Windows NT, Exchange and SQL Server. All of those efforts went on to win massive channel and CIO business.
With Windows Intune, Microsoft seems to be engaging more and more MSPs in a two-way dialog. That dialog generated some noise during the Xchange channel conference in August 2010. And the dialog is expected to continue in October or November 2010, when Windows Intune representatives will potentially attend one or more major MSP-centric conferences, MSPmentor has heard.