Microsoft inTune Review

By Rory Monaghan

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Over the last year, I’ve been hearing a lot about how inTune is the future and that System Center Configuration Manager is going to be replaced. I decided that I better get out ahead of this thing before it blows up. This will server as a quick review and glimpse into inTune!

Before I get started, I simply tried out the product by signing up HERE. As I was a little under the gun time wise due to it being a limited trial, I did not try to join this to my own domain. I leveraged the eval domain name and account that was assigned to me. Once signed up, I received my e-mail which brought me to a login page, I login using the username provided in the e-mail and the password, I had chosen which launched this page:

Dashboard

Along the side there’s a few links, the overview is just some information about the service. Management covers managing of the individual users, security groups and the domain. When you sign up for the trial, you get an eval domain which is what I chose to use. If click on Domains, you’ll see an option to sync your own domain.

ADSync

Essentially you can sync with your corporate domain, allowing users to access the company portal with their own Windows login. From what I could see, for the AD sync, you actually keep the domain which has been automatically created for you and simply create a DNS record to re-direct the link internally. There’s some pretty good instruction online as well as in the tool itself.

The Subscriptions section in the Portal is for managing the actual license for the tool. Support allows you to see the inTune service health worldwide, if there’s any outages or issues. You can also log your own incident if required.

You can see along the top of the page, there’s a┬áCompany Portal, this is like the users application catalog, it displays the apps and phone info. We can come back to that for now I’d like to look at the Admin section.

Dashboard

If nothing else, this dashboard is much prettier than the initial page you get logged into. This page is like a Launchpad into the sections which you’ll use for managing your devices. Let’s try to configure the client and deploy some apps!

ADMIN - Client Download

Navigate to the Admin menu

ADMIN - Client DownloadUnder Client Software Download, you’ll see a list of options for deploying the client required to being pushing apps. If you want to push to desktops, you’ve got some options. You can use Group Policy to deploy the client or even any existing Distribution Software. If you want to deploy to cell phones\mobiles and you have an existing deployment tool, you could use that. Otherwise, this may be a manual process. You could request your users to download the app from their store or you could manually do this for them. Or possibly you could ensure the client is on the devices as you hand the phones out. It’s not ideal but this is one of the challenges will all management tools for mobile devices.

Policy

You’ll want to navigate to policies and configure enrollment policies, this will allow the clients to communicate and receive pushes from inTune.

Blacklist1

 

You can also configure the configuration policies. For example, I’m creating an Android configuration as you can see I’m also blacklisting a certain app that I’d prefer that my users not download\install\use. I picked Aer Lingus because I’ve had a few bad experiences with them. TAKE THAT AER LINGUS! ­čÖé

Blacklist2

Further down you can see some Kiosk configurations such as managing the lock screens.

Groups

Deploy Apps

Once the client has been installed on a device and the device has been enrolled you can manage and create groups in order to deploy apps to them

Apps1

If we go to Apps, we can select to Add Apps

Apps2

A login prompt will be received, login.

Apps3

Click Next >

How

First we can select how the software is made available this can be an actual installer, advertise a link to an app in a store e.g. Google Play or as a Managed iOS App from the App Store.

Apps4

If we select Software Installation, we’ll get quite a number of options in the drop down. Include .exe and msi for deploying to PCs, App package files for iOS, Android or Windows Phone. As well an AppX application for Windows 8\8.1.

Apps5

For my first app, I picked to go with an Android .apk file, the only cell\mobile phone I have is an Android so that’s what I tested with. You can upload your own icon. Set Publisher name and apps names, as well as a Description and some URLs. You want to set the Category as this helps keep apps in the Portal organized. and then click Next >

Apps6

Click Upload

Apps7

I wanted to try out a link. So I went back and instead of Software Installation and .apk, I chose an external link. I filled in the info again and Click Next >

Apps8

And I clicked Upload

Apps10-Manage Deployment

We need to select the group to deploy to.

Apps11-Manage Deployment

And for each set the deployment info. The above shows the option for my .apk file, I could only set this to required meaning once the client saw the app was assigned, it automatically installed it. With my external link, I used the option to just make the advertisement available.

End User Experience

Screenshot_2015-03-11-20-57-28

On your device, launch the Company Portal and login (That’s my Dog Lemon in the background dress us a Dog getting eatin’ by a shark for Halloween!)

Screenshot_2015-03-11-21-34-58

If I’ve logged in at any time before, the required Install app will just automatically start to download and install..

 

Screenshot_2015-03-11-21-36-19

And bada bing, the app installed. I can now launch

Screenshot_2015-03-11-21-36-30

And the app is fully functional and good to go. If I go into the Portal.

Screenshot_2015-03-11-21-37-20

I can see right away that the other app is featured, I could also browse to All Apps or view the app in the Business category.

Screenshot_2015-03-11-21-39-00

If I click on the app there’s a prompt to go to the store. If If I click on it, It will navigate me to the app in the Play Store. I can click Install and then open.

Screenshot_2015-03-11-21-39-58

Bada Bing, Bada Boom! App is installed and launches. We’re assigning the applications we want our users to access, whilst blocking the apps we don’t want them to use. AER LINGUS!!

Health Checks

Alerts

Under Alerts, you can see any service alerts which have been issued.

WIPE

You can also check individual devices to ensure they are up to scratch. You can also carry out some admin tasks on the phone, as you can see to the right you have the ability to Reset passcodes, perform a remote lock if you think the phone may have been stolen and do peform a Wipe for the same reason or maybe just in an effort to retire the phone if it’s due to be replaced or if an employee leaves the company.

Conclusion

Right now inTune is very limited, particularly for deploying and managing Desktop applications. I enjoyed the hell out of deploying apps to my phone, it was very simple. I’ve only used one other tool for deploying to phones and I felt that this was much more intuitive and easier. Will this completely replace SCCM? Possibly because it’s subscription based and there’s a solid web console which can be built upon but right now I’m not in as big of a panic as it’s a long way off for deploying to ALL Enterprise devices and supporting all package types. It also lacks the ability to image machines\devices. Deploy Windows Updates, Manage encryption and many other key features we find in SCCM. It appears that the subscription model costs about $6 per user, per month. I try to not mention pricing of anything I review but that seems like it’s a little steep but is in line with competitors pricing….

To leave on a one liner. inTune, not there yet but a very promising future!

Header image was taken from Redmonmag.com

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