Microsoft Defender for Business Standalone Commercially Released

Microsoft on Monday announced the "general availability" commercial release of the "standalone" edition of Microsoft Defender for Business, a security solution for small-to-medium organizations.

Microsoft Defender for Business was already commercially released as part of the Microsoft Business Premium suite of solutions, as announced back in March. The standalone edition, now also commercially released, is sold separately from the premium suite. Both offerings are for organizations with up to 300 "seats" or users.

Microsoft Defender for Business Costs
It costs $3 per user per month for the Microsoft Defender for Business standalone product vs. $22 per user per month for Microsoft Business Premium product. The premium product, though, is a comprehensive software bundle that also includes Office apps, Azure Information Protection, Azure Active Directory Premium P1, Azure Virtual Desktop and Microsoft Intune.

Microsoft is selling its Defender for Business standalone edition product via its product page or via partners. It's possible to start a subscription through the Microsoft Admin Center portal.

Microsoft Defender for Business standalone edition is conceived as an "endpoint detection and response" solution that offers "enterprise-grade" security at an "affordable" price for small-to-medium businesses, according to the announcement by Vasu Jakkal, Microsoft corporate vice president for security, compliance, identity and management.

Capabilities in Microsoft Defender for Business include:

  • Threat and vulnerability management
  • Attack surface reduction
  • "Next-generation protection" (meaning antimalware and antivirus protections)
  • Endpoint detection and response (for behavioral-based threat detections)
  • Automatic investigation and remediation

Client OS Support
The "endpoints" currently protected by Microsoft Defender for Business are client devices, namely devices running the Android, iOS, macOS and Windows operating systems.

There's a bit of a catch for Microsoft Defender for Business standalone edition users regarding some non-Windows clients. Namely, "onboarding Android and iOS/iPadOS devices requires a license for Microsoft Intune," which is Microsoft's mobile management solution, according to a Microsoft FAQ. The Intune requirement would be an extra cost, or it's included in Microsoft's more expensive premium offering.

Moreover, Microsoft currently provides a "simplified" wizard for setting up Microsoft Defender for Business standalone edition with Windows and macOS client devices. However, if an organization wants to set up Microsoft Defender for Business standalone edition with Android and iOS devices, then they'll need to use Microsoft Intune.

On the macOS side, Microsoft is planning to add "simplified next-generation antivirus and firewall settings management in the Microsoft 365 Defender portal," which will be coming "later," according to a Microsoft Tech Community post.

Possibly, Microsoft is contemplating adding a simplified setup wizard for Android and iOS devices as well with the Microsoft Defender for Business standalone edition product. The Tech Community post stated that Microsoft is "committed to enabling a broader set of management scenarios for mobile endpoint security on the roadmap."

Coming Server OS Support
Support for Linux or Windows servers in the Microsoft Defender for Business standalone edition will be coming "later this year," per the Tech Community announcement. This coming server support will be available as a product "add-on." Microsoft didn't indicate whether this add-on would entail extra costs for subscribers.

The setup for the server implementation of Microsoft Defender for Business standalone edition will vary, depending on the operating system that's used. Here's how the Microsoft Tech Community announcement explained it:

Windows Server experience will be the same as Windows client. Linux servers will use deployment scripts allowing you to integrate into your existing management platforms such as Chef, Puppet, and Ansible.

Partner Upsell Opportunity
For partners, the Microsoft Defender for Business standalone edition is promoted by Microsoft as an "upsell" vehicle to move customers to the Microsoft 365 Business Premium suite, according to a blog post by Dan Truax, general manager of global partner solutions at Microsoft.

Partners can oversee Microsoft Defender for Business standalone using the free Microsoft 365 Lighthouse unified administrator solution for managing multiple customers. It was commercially released back in March. At that time, Microsoft bumped up the management capability of Microsoft 365 Lighthouse from 500 licensed users to "1,000 licensed users within each customer tenant" when they have Microsoft 365 E3 licenses. It'll be possible also to "onboard tenants with Microsoft 365 E5 subscriptions" sometime in May, Microsoft previously had indicated regarding Microsoft 365 Lighthouse use.

Microsoft offers a briefing event for partners using Microsoft 365 Lighthouse to manage Microsoft Defender for Business. It's available at this page.

In addition to using Microsoft 365 Lighthouse, partners can use remote monitoring and management (RMM) tools from other software makers. Datto announced on Monday that its Datto RMM is now integrated with Microsoft Defender for Business.

Coming soon will be "ConnectWise RMM integration with Intune and Microsoft 365 Business Premium," the Tech Community announcement added.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.


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