Microsoft System Center and Windows Intune: Converging?

Microsoft System Center and Windows Intune: Converging?

Are Microsoft System Center and Windows Intune converging across private clouds and public clouds? MSPmentor expects answers to surface at Microsoft Management Summit 2012 (April 16-20, Las Vegas). Here's what managed services providers (MSPs) can expect to hear from Microsoft Corporate VP Brad Anderson during two keynotes.

First, a refresher course: Microsoft System Center 2012 was recently released to manufacturing, and it became available to volume-license customers (i.e., typically large enterprises) as of April 1, 2012. There are two versions of Microsoft System Center 2012:

  • Standard Edition: Allows customers and service providers to manage two OSEs on premises or two OSEs in a public cloud environment. Targeted at lightly or non-virtualized private cloud workloads.
  • Data Center Edition: Allows an unlimited number of OSEs in an on premises environment or eight OSEs in a public cloud environment. Maximizes cloud capacity with unlimited Operating System Environments (OSEs) for high density private clouds.
Microsoft System Center also allows users to manage clients and endpoint security.

Windows Intune

Meanwhile, Windows Intune is Microsoft's public cloud-based remote management and security platform for customers' Windows clients. It isn't designed for server management -- at least not yet.

I believe Windows Intune faces an uphill battle in the IT channel, especially with MSPs, because the platform does not manage non-Windows systems (Mac OS X, iOS, Android, Linux). Plus, some channel partners have been wary of Windows Intune's cost (roughly $11 per system per month).

Microsoft has been working with TruMethods, an MSP-oriented coaching organization, to raise the visibility of its cloud services (Office 365 and Windows Intune) among MSPs and the IT channel. And some IT channel partners have been embracing Windows Intune. For instance: Sentri and Clearway, two Microsoft solutions providers, are focusing on Windows Intune as part of their recent merger.

Windows Intune and System Center Evolution

Over the past year, Microsoft has dropped hints that Windows Intune will gain more and capabilities found in Systems Management Center 2012. But I wonder just how far those efforts will go. Brad Anderson, corporate VP for Microsoft's management and security division, may offer some more clues at the Microsoft Management Summit next week.

Anderson is scheduled to deliver two keynotes at the conference. First, he'll describe Microsoft's vision for cloud computing and he'll demonstrate how System Center 2012 will enable partners and customers to "deliver the promise of cloud computing." The second keynote focuses on "a world of connected devices." Here, Anderson will describe how both System Center 2012 and Windows Intune can help corporate IT to deliver "the freedom to work anywhere, anytime on a variety of devices."

I wonder: Does that mean System Center and Windows Intune will begin to emphasize smart phone and tablet management -- for non-Windows devices? And what type of code sharing, if any, is Microsoft leveraging as System Center and Windows Intune march forward?

MSPmentor is pursuing the answers.
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