How to get the most from Microsoft Intune

When it comes to managing corporate hardware, Intune stacks up well against rivals like AirWatch, MobileIron Cloud and Maas360. Whether it's the right EMM choice depends on your company's current setup and future needs.

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Microsoft's Intune, launched in 2011 and augmented with mobile management capabilities the following year, is part of Microsoft's Enterprise Mobility Suite — a bundle that includes Azure Active Directory and Office 365. At the most basic level, Intune delivers enterprise mobility management (EMM) capabilities in a cloud-based format.

In many ways, Intune is similar to other EMM offerings from the likes of VMware's AirWatch, MobileIron Cloud and IBM's Maas360. Like other companies, Microsoft relies largely on the innate EMM and mobile device management (MDM) capabilities already part of the mobile operating systems it supports — primarily iOS and Android (though it can manage desktop platforms like Windows 10 and macOS; more about that later). These capabilities largely create an even playing field for EMM vendors because the same set of security and management options are available consistently.

Microsoft is unique compared to other EMM players in two major ways, however. The first is that Microsoft solutions, including Active Directory, make up the IT stack implemented by most enterprise organizations. The second is that Microsoft makes Office and Office 365, which almost every business relies on. As such, Intune has a deep connection into Office 365, particularly when it comes to licensing, and it lets Microsoft pursue equally deep integrations with Office apps.

Neither part of this unique position means Intune is the best value when it comes to device management, but they are factors to consider for companies weighing EMM options. Other vendors can offer similar full-stack EMM products that interrelate to other enterprise infrastructure components. So if you stick with a single vendor for several parts of your enterprise stack, it makes a degree of sense to select that vendor's EMM solution; Microsoft just happens to be part of a lot of enterprise IT stacks, given it something of a home court advantage.

Under the hood: Intune, Office 365 and Azure AD

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