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Microsoft Exec: Windows Intune Is ConfigMgr from the Cloud

Microsoft currently has more than 10,000 Windows Intune customers, according to a Microsoft executive.

That Windows Intune stat came from Brad Anderson, Microsoft's corporate vice president for Windows Server and System Center. Anderson answered a few questions in a Reddit "ask me anything" post on Thursday (Microsoft transcript). While he delivered no real bombshells, and skipped some intriguing questions, Anderson did clarify the somewhat hazy product forking that seems to be happening between Windows Intune, which is Microsoft's cloud-based PC management solution, and System Center Configuration Manager.

When asked if Microsoft would eventually "flip the switch on ConfigMgr and make it completely Cloud-based," Anderson suggested that the products were rather similar.

"Intune is ConfigMgr delivered from the cloud," Anderson stated in the Reddit post. "Last Fall we created a strong connection between both of them for use in a hybrid cloud model. Today there are more than 10k customers using Intune to manage their PCs and devices. The choice is yours: Do you want to manage on-prem or from the cloud -- we give you the option to do either."

However, last year, Microsoft tended to insist that organizations would want to use both Windows Intune and System Center Configuration Manager in combination. In particular, Andrew Conway, director of product marketing for System Center, had explained back then that Windows Intune would be particularly needed for mobile device management scenarios.

The idea that Windows Intune would be needed for mobile device management scenarios had been described in much the same terms by Jason Leznek, Microsoft's director of product marketing of enterprise client management on Windows Intune licensing, back in January of last year. However, Leznek stressed that System Center Configuration Manager could be used as the "single pane of glass" for such mobile device management, which was enabled through the release System Center 2012 Service Pack 1. Windows Intune would still be needed for organizations wanting to use "self-service" portals for mobile devices, which is part of Microsoft's "people-centric IT" scenario (PDF).

Anderson was asked a second question about Windows Intune and System Center, particularly how the transition from private clouds to public clouds might affect the development of Microsoft's two management tools. Anderson suggested that System Center would be the toolset to support organizations leveraging public cloud services on top of private cloud infrastructure.

"System Center will become the way in which Hybrid Cloud is realized, and it will enable organizations to use multiple clouds," he wrote.

He later suggested in the Reddit post that Microsoft offers cloud platforms that don't entail being locked into a single vendor. It's a bold claim. His arguments along those lines can be found at this Microsoft blog post.

Anderson's Reddit talk about Windows Intune and System Center Configuration Manager may not have clarified much, but he did explain that the engineering teams aren't split at Microsoft. "Intune and ConfigMgr are the same team," Anderson stated in the Reddit post.

Anderson will be delivering the keynote address at this year's TechEd conference coming up in mid-May. However, he was asked in the Reddit session if Microsoft planned to kill off its TechEd event in a couple of years.

"I have no idea where that's coming from," Anderson stated. "Actually, bringing TechEd and MMS [Microsoft Management Summit] together shows how much emphasis we're putting on that event."

Late last year, Microsoft announced that it was folding the Microsoft Management Summit into the TechEd 2014 event. At that time, Anderson denied that Microsoft was cutting MMS to save money. He claimed that the move would better enable connecting IT pros with management experts.

Anderson also talked a bit about his past before joining Microsoft. In the process, suggested that Novell's ZENWorks management product was losing ground.

"I was the original program manager on ZENWorks," Anderson wrote. "I think the market votes with its checkbook, and SCCM is now the tool used to manage 2 out of 3 desktops around the world, and it's recognized by Gartner in the leaders quadrant. ZENWorks is in the 'Niche' category."

About the Author

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

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