When updates for Microsoft Intune rolled out last month, Microsoft delivered on a massive amount of promises, giving Intune subscribers new abilities to manage the most popular mobile platforms. November was monumental. But, just on Tuesday, Microsoft decided to deliver even more. I detailed the big updates here: More New Microsoft Intune Updates Rolling Out.
However, the biggest take-away from the December updates isn't something that received a specific highlight. I'm not sure exactly why Microsoft wants to keep the news so secret, but the real news from this month is not the updates (focused heavily on iOS and Android), but the new cadence for Microsoft Intune updates. Shortly after this month's updates started rolling out, I spoke with Brad Anderson for clarification on a couple points.
First, this month represents a change in the Microsoft Intune cadence schedule. Prior to this month, Microsoft would rollout feature updates quarterly. The update cadence was actually limited to four times a year because of the underlying infrastructure and not Microsoft's intent or development cycles. And, this leads to the more important (to me) news…
Microsoft Intune (Windows Intune previously) was first developed when Azure wasn't even a thought and the Cloud was still called the Internet. During the November update process, Microsoft took the time to improve the Intune architecture. Intune is now a full, native Azure service. This gives Microsoft the capability to rollout new features for Microsoft Intune without service interruption, much like customers are already enjoying with Office 365.
The combination of Microsoft Intune and Azure gives Microsoft the ability to improve its mobile management offerings quickly. Try doing that with its on-premises System Center Configuration Manager. And, that brings up the age old question: "could Microsoft Intune replace Configuration Manager?" The short answer is "Yes" (my answer). The longer, more political answer was bequeathed by Brad Anderson himself in a recent webinar. During the Q&A, the question was asked and Brad said this:
"Will Intune supersede Config Manager at some point in the future? I think that's a decision that organizations will make on their own. We have organizations today that are managing 15,000-20,000 different devices from the Cloud with Intune. PC and mobile devices…As I look forward, we'll continue to invest in Configuration Manager…we'll continue to invest in Intune…we'll continue to invest in the integration of those. As organizations look at their what their overall strategy is…organizations will make their determination and we'll support all of those. We'll support Hybrid and we'll support Cloud only."
From a political perspective, Brad is hedging his bets. But, from what we know about Microsoft's defined Mobile First/Cloud First direction, Brad's quote becomes much clearer and the "between the lines" message expands from a thin line to a four-lane highway.
Brad told me at IT/Dev Connections this year that he had pulled together the Intune and Configuration Manager teams earlier this year. He reiterates this in the webinar, but then also goes on to admit that he's now separated those groups again which clearly means that Intune will once again get the bulk of attention. It makes sense from so many angles. For one, Intune features can now be rolled out at a moment's notice due to the improved Azure infrastructure, while Configuration Manager is stuck getting updates the old, methodical way. Secondly, the mantra is Mobile First/Cloud First with no room for even a single tinge of on-premises.