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Windows Intune: Freedom for IT Pros?

Windows Intune is hitting the road after going commercial last month, and Microsoft has a proposition for IT pros: use outsourced desktop management tools, hosted by Microsoft.

The beta of Windows Intune expired this week, but there's still a free 30-day trial available. For $11 per user per month, users get a browser-based management console, PC malware protection based on Microsoft Forefront Endpoint Protection and Microsoft Security Essentials technologies, plus licensing for Windows 7 Enterprise edition. Users also get software upgrade rights throughout the life of the monthly subscription. That amounts to a Software Assurance-like licensing benefit, but without the risks, according to a blog post by Forrester Research analyst Christopher Voce. There's also a 99.9 percent service level agreement.

Microsoft is now on a full-court press to convince battle-hardened IT pros to switch their management strategies to the cloud. One such effort was presented at Cloud Slam '11 this week, where Gavriella Schuster, Microsoft's general manager of Windows Client Commercial Product Management Group, made the case for Windows Intune.

Schuster described an evolving role for IT pros, where they no longer need to "baby-sit servers." They will be freed by Windows Intune to shift their focus more toward "the business and strategizing on technology," she said.

Also with Schuster was Ron Braatz, president of LiftOff LLC, an entirely cloud-based Microsoft partner company. Braatz noted that in calculating the costs of using Windows Intune, organizations need to consider that they may be paying $20 to $35 per PC per year just for antivirus protection. For those upgrading from Windows XP, Windows Intune may be a cost-effective option to consider, he added. Another cost consideration is whether organizations are currently paying for remote-assist licensing.

Like Schuster, Braatz argued that the IT skillset is changing, and that IT pros need to be more analyst and process oriented. He contended that Windows Intune improves staff efficiency -- not necessarily by removing employees, but by moving them forward to other tasks.

What should we make of Windows Intune? Are you ready to be evolved by it? Tell Doug your unvarnished opinions at dbarney@redmondmag.com.
-- By Kurt Mackie

Posted by Doug Barney on 04/22/2011 at 1:18 PM


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