When Microsoft activates the next major Windows Intune release on October 17, I'll be watching closely. Peer blogger Matt Weinberger accurately positions Windows Intune as a cloud-based remote PC management platform. But I've got my usual questions for the managed IT services audience.
As I've stated in previous blogs, I think Windows Intune is somewhat limited because it's Windows-centric. It can't help MSPs to remotely manage heterogeneous networks that run Linux, Mac OS, iOS, Android and more. But perhaps Windows Intune's laser-like focus on Windows also is a potential strength.
After all, thousands of VARs and quite a few MSPs grew up selling and supporting Microsoft-centric networks to small business customers. And the new Windows Intune release could be a promising way to manage all of those customer devices. The new release focuses on such areas as electronic software distribution, remote task support and improved reporting -- welcome enhancements within the Microsoft channel.
Still, I think Windows Intune will only find pockets of success in the managed services market. The vast majority of MSPs have already tried three to five remote monitoring tools. And more than PC administration, those tools are now integrated with third-party services that offer online backup, security, business continuity and more. I doubt established MSPs will rip and replace those integrations for a single Windows-centric solution.
Potential Adopters?But... Windows Intune will certainly find some areas of success, assuming the SaaS platform works as promised. I can picture big corporations -- lots of them -- using Intune to remotely manage thousands of desktop and mobile Windows systems. (Michael Otey of Windows IT Pro points out these top 10 use scenarios for Intune.)
And I can certainly see Windows Intune catching on with new MSPs that are looking to quickly manage Windows systems for customers. Plus, Windows Intune integrates with popular PSA (professional services automation) platforms like ConnectWise and Autotask. As of Sept. 8, 2011, Microsoft is promoting 17 major channel partners that have "black belt" Windows Intune experience.
At $11 per device per month, Windows Intune has a simple pricing formula for MSPs to follow. Finding ways to generate profits on top of Microsoft's fee, however, remains the job of the MSP.