ORLANDO, Fla. -- Microsoft will converge System Center Configuration Manager and Intune into a single console called Microsoft Endpoint Manager.
Organizations with System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) will automatically be licensed to use Intune in conjunction with SCCM for managing Windows devices, Microsoft said here at the company's annual user conference.
"Microsoft is bringing everything into the same pane of glass and saying, 'We're making this easier for you,'" said Mark Bowker, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, Mass.
"'We want everything to be in one spot."
Simplifying endpoint management
Microsoft released SCCM initially to manage PCs, while Intune was positioned as a mobile device management service, although it too can now manage PCs. In 2017, Microsoft added the ability to "co-manage" devices with both SCCM and Intune. Organizations with an existing SCCM deployment could attach the service to the Microsoft 365 cloud to use the capabilities of Intune.
SCCM tends to be buggy and difficult to configure, said Brien Posey, a freelance technical journalist and Microsoft MVP.
"This definitely has the potential to make things easier," he said. "Microsoft is finally working toward having one management interface instead of having a zillion separate products. That's one of the things that's been hurting Microsoft for a long time: three or four different products that will do more or less the same exact thing."
The company is aiming to simplify its branding of device management services and simplify licensing, said Brad Anderson, corporate vice president of Microsoft 365, in a session about Microsoft Endpoint Manager.
Organizations that already have SCCM and want to manage non-Windows devices with Microsoft Endpoint Manager, however, should be aware they need a license for Intune, the Enterprise Mobility and Security suite, or Microsoft 365 E3 or higher.
New dashboards fill gaps
The marriage of SCCM and Intune will benefit smaller organizations such as the City of Happy Valley in Washington, said Will Wilson, an IT manager at the city.
"Configuration Manager is a big platform for us," he said. "I still want some of the automation that it brings, and Intune ... has a lot of great functionality too."
Brien PoseyMicrosoft MVP
Adriaan Klaassen, global IT director at Mohawk Group, an e-commerce software company in New York, is looking forward to simpler deployment of his device management services.
"I'm struggling as a one-man team to be able to manage Mac and Windows devices globally," he said.
Also new is security and compliance analytics dashboards in the Microsoft 365 admin center, which IT can use to view data from Endpoint Manager. This could enable security teams and endpoint management teams to collaborate more effectively.
For example, a security admin can view vulnerabilities and recommendations in the Microsoft 365 dashboard and submit a ticket in Intune to suggest that the endpoint management team make remediations.
"Something that was missing deeply within Intune was the analytics piece," said Mayan Nath, a solutions architect at the County of Los Angeles. "You deploy things, but you don't really know what the status is. Now for an admin, it's much easier to get that information."
The County of Los Angeles would use the capability to submit recommendations to a security team, Nath said.
"The question is if we're able to incorporate that with our current data management process," he added.
For other organizations, existing help desk systems make the analytics feature difficult to implement.
"For us, it wouldn't make anything more efficient," said Josh Kinsler, director of cybersecurity at Community Health Network. "We do everything out of one [help desk ticketing] system anyway."