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Cloud & Managed Services

What is Windows Intune? A Simple, Straight-forward, and Jargon-Free Answer

by Dennis Junk
on November 18, 2013

Windows Intune LogoCloud technology opens the way for so many business computing opportunities that experts in the tech industry are only beginning to wrap their minds around all the emerging possibilities. But with all the new capabilities comes a new set of challenges. Your business can now be more mobile and decentralized than ever, but keeping track of your employees and making sure they’re equipped with all the tools they need has become a little more complicated. Add to this the rise of BYOD (or Bring Your Own Device) policies, which have employees working on their own laptops and tablets, and you have a lot of IT people wringing their hands. That’s why Microsoft created Windows Intune, a platform that can make managing multiple far-flung devices in the cloud even easier than managing all the desktops in the office used to be.

Windows Intune is a cloud-based service that allows you to grant your employees access to company software through their own devices. Think of the scene in The Matrix when Trinity calls her “operator” and says she needs to be able to fly a helicopter. We can’t upload applications into people’s brains yet of course, but we can, for instance, send a program to a salesperson’s tablet that allows her to give a potential customer an on-the-spot estimate. Or we can send a project leader the latest version of Office so he can start writing a statement of work using the same file type as everyone else who will be working on the proposal. 

But what your company sends to your employees it can also retrieve or delete. Any data associated with applications accessed through the company portal remains accessible through Intune. This way you can make sure all your data and proprietary software are secure. The way it works is that all the devices you want to manage appear in a window so you or your IT director can see at a glance which employees have which software. It’s up to you what restrictions and permissions you want to set for each device or each employee. The interface allows you to perform tasks like sending out routine software updates, protecting company data from viruses and malware, and collating reports from each of your employees.

How is Windows Intune different from System Center’s Configuration Manager?

Windows Intune is what’s known as SaaS, or Software as a Service. Intune is hosted completely in the cloud and businesses subscribe to it on a monthly, per-user basis. But you can’t use Intune to manage the servers on your business’s premises (sometimes referred to as “on-prem” servers). That’s why Intune is used by a lot of small or medium-sized businesses that operate exclusively in the cloud. For larger companies that rely on several on-premises servers, System Center is the tool of choice. System Center’s Configuration Manager can be thought of as the on-prem counterpart to Windows Intune. But Intune is designed so that businesses can easily integrate it with Configuration Manager in computing environments that are hybrids between cloud and on-prem servers. 

If you’d like to learn more about Windows Intune, this post goes into some of the finer details. Feel free as well to post your questions in the comment section below or contact us through our website. 

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Dennis Junk
I'm Aptera's Content Strategist. I've been writing about tech and marketing for 5 years and have certifications from HubSpot and The Content Marketing Institute. A big science and literature geek, I taught college rhetoric and composition while I was still busy going to school for way too long, earning bachelor's degrees in anthropology and psychology, along with a master's in British and American literature. Look me up on LinkedIn.
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