The Microsoft Azure cloud has evolved significantly since it first launched as Windows Azure in 2010. It now hosts public and private cloud services, with support for compute, storage and networking workloads across the globe. Recent additions such as Azure Stack (i.e., a solution for running Microsoft hypervisors in your own data center) and Azure Transition Service (which simplifies the migration of IT infrastructures to Azure) have broadened the platform’s reach and helped build its market share in the highly competitive infrastructure-as-a-service and platform-as-a-service spaces.
As of August 2016,Azure had 11 percent market sharein the combined IaaS, PaaS and hosted private cloud segment, according to a report from Synergy Research Group. That put it in second place behind Amazon Web Services. Year-over-year growth for Azure was also 100 percent between 2015 and 2016, higher than the 53 percent rate for AWS. Looking ahead, Azure may be able to further expand its customer base through targeted offerings such as Azure Intune for mobile device management/enterprise mobility management (MDM/EMM).
What is Azure Intune?
Azure Intune – originally Windows Intune – is a cloud-based utility for managing all an organization’s user-facing assets, including its smartphones, tablets, PCs and business software. It has several key components that make it a popular MDM/EMM solution:
It is integrated with Azure Active Directory, and it can also be configured for auto-enrollment of devices – whether corporateissuedor personally owned and running on Windows 10 – in MDM/EMM with an Azure AD Premium subscription.As of March 2017, Intune was being moved to the Azure portal, which can serve as a single location for the management of enrolled mobile devices, PCs and apps; Microsoft has called it an integrated console for enterprise mobility and security.In Azure, Intune allows for more granular policy management via new Device Type Restrictions and Device Limit Restrictions. These rules replace the blanket ones for Windows and macOS devices in the previous classic consoleThe Azure portal can run in most major modern web browsers and offers an HTML-based console, support for the Microsoft Graph API and the aforementioned compatibility with Azure Active Directory.Naturally, Intune is also a straightforward MDM/EMM choice for any company already heavily invested in the Microsoft product ecosystem. For example, Intune simplifies the management of mobile versions of Office apps.Microsoft began trials and previews of Intune in the Azure portal in December 2016 and is currently in the process of eventually moving all Intune functionality into Azure. For Microsoft itself, the move to Azure makes sense in light of the company’s commitment to cloud computing services. But what do IT staff gain from the Intune transition? Let’s look at some of the technical and business-related benefits from Azure-based Intune.
Consistent management across multiple platforms
At its peak in the mid-2000s,Windows accounted for more than 90 percent of personal computing devices. To connect to the internet in 2004 or 2005, you almost certainly had to use a PC.
Flash forward to 2017, though, and the picture is much different, with iOS and Android devices everywhere and macOS on the rise. For example, in March 2017, internet usage on Android as tracked by StatCounter surpassed Windows for the first time.
Intune supports Windows, Windows Mobile, Android, iOS and macOS devices. It provides secure unified management no matter which major platforms your company relies on.
No expensive infrastructure or licensing
Since Intune is now hosted in the Azure cloud, it obviates the need for extensive – and expensive – on-premises hardware and software. Managing devices from the cloud provides the same functionality as the classic console, except with much greater flexibility.
“Azure Intune users also gain access to simplified and cost-effective licensing.”
Beyond the freedom from self-maintained infrastructure, Azure Intune users also gain access to simplified and cost-effective licensing, without the need for counting individual devices. An Enterprise Mobility + Security subscription includes Intune alongside Azure Active Directory Premium and Azure Rights Management.
An Intune deployment can also be integrated with System Center Configuration Manager. This way, it can ensure comprehensive oversight of devices both on-premises and in the cloud.
Reliable support from Microsoft
Every Intune subscription comes with 24/7 technical support from Microsoft via phone or online chat. Intune is also highly synergistic with Office mobile apps as well as Exchange, Outlook and OneDrive for Business, since it helps secure any corporate data passing through these applications.
IT workers can get a head start on a career in managing Intune and other Azure services by enrolling in classes at a New Horizons Computer Learning Centers.A wide variety of technical coursesare available at each site, sofind a location near you todayto assess your options and take charge of your IT career.