It wasn’t that long ago that managing the computers in a business was straightforward and simple. It usually comprised of workstations all in the same building, so it was easy to keep track of everything.
Today’s business is a far cry from that. Business is mobile and flexible. You have workers in different places worldwide, those on the move working from the road, as well as work from home and hybrid work scenarios.
I didn’t even mention mobile devices like phones and tablets, which makes up 60% of enterprise devices and accounts for 80% of the work. Nor did I mention the influx of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies adopted by companies today.
It makes managing all the devices far more complicated than it ever has been. It is also a great challenge to manage the security of your company and data on all of them.
How can you possibly manage everything in a reasonably meaningful way? Easy, you get your IT partner to do it! 🤣
Seriously though, even if you have an IT partner that can handle this for you, you should know what it entails because they are just going to have the same conversation with you anyways. Now you can sound smart and impress them.
The solution to managing all your devices is Microsoft Intune.
Microsoft Intune is a cloud-based solution for managing all your endpoints.
I’m throwing this tech term at you now because it’s bound to come up as I write this. An endpoint is any device that connects to your network and communicates with it. That’s workstations, laptops, phones, servers, etc… I tend to simplify and use terms like “devices” or “computers” because that’s how people talk (except for tech geeks).
So now you know. Back to Intune.
Microsoft has had Intune for a while, and now they have what they are calling their Intune Suite. Think, the base Intune with two tiers of more and better tools added on.
What I intend to cover here is if you need Intune at all, and if so at what level of the Suite?
The basics of Microsoft Intune Suite
Let’s begin by demystifying Microsoft Intune. At its core, it’s a versatile software tool that lets you manage your company’s devices and apps all in one place. Whether your workforce is using PCs, Macs, smartphones, or tablets, Intune can manage it.
Intune is included in multiple Microsoft subscriptions, the lowest being Business Premium. Assuming you’re a mid or small business here, that is the M365 license you are going to want. Sorry, Business Standard doesn’t include Intune.
The main functionalities of Microsoft Intune are:
- Cross-platform endpoint management
- Inbuilt endpoint security
- Mobile application management
- Endpoint analytics
- Microsoft Configuration Manager
Those are some nice fancy words, but what does it mean, practically speaking? Well, have you ever needed to ensure everyone on your team has an app installed? Do you need to install company apps on employee personal devices? Have you ever had a laptop stolen and need it wiped? Intune handles these kinds of scenarios, and more.
It’s very cool, and very empowering for businesses to be able to manage and control their technology.
So you might be wondering, if all these tools are available with Intune, why are there upgrades?
Microsoft has been fervently enhancing Intune’s capabilities, and its latest iteration brings an array of exciting new features to the table. This is how the different features break down.
The core features of Intune are now called Microsoft Intune Plan 1. With this, you get the items I just described.
The cost of a Microsoft 365 Business Premium license is $22 per license. That includes all M365 productivity apps with it, not just Intune. Other licenses also give access to Intune, but those are Enterprise with additional features and thus more expensive. To keep it as simple as possible, I’m just referring to Business Premium as the lowest bar of entry.
Then there is Microsoft Intune Plan 2. Plan 2 is an add-on to Plan 1 and brings with it more advanced management capabilities.
- Microsoft Intune Tunnel for Mobile Application Management
- Microsoft Intune management of specialty devices
The cost of adding Plan 2 to your existing plan is $4 per license on top of your Plan 1 costs.
Finally, there is Microsoft Intune Suite.
I know, they started with a numbering system and then ended it with a non-number. That bothers the heck out of me because; First, it’s confusing. Second, it’s inconsistent. And C, it’s just illogical. (Touché Microsoft! 😁)
Intune Suite (i.e. Plan 3) includes all of Plan 1 and Plan 2 features, as well as these additional features:
- Microsoft Intune Remote Help
- Microsoft Intune Endpoint Privilege Management
- Microsoft Tunnel for Mobile Application Management
- Management of specialized devices
- Select advanced endpoint analytics features.
The cost of adding Intune Suite to your existing plan is $10 per license on top of your Plan 1 costs.
Do any of these Intune tiers actually benefit me?
So, the million-dollar question: Should you take the plunge and subscribe?
Before you jump in, let’s dissect the key factors that can help you decide whether Intune aligns with your small or mid-sized business’s needs.
What are the benefits of subscribing to Intune?
Seamless Device Management
We’ve all experienced the chaos of device management. The Intune Suite sweeps that away, providing a centralized dashboard for complete device control. Define policies and enforce security measures, and if the need arises, remotely wipe data. Plus, it seamlessly integrates with both Windows and macOS, banishing compatibility worries.
Secure Helpdesk Support
Keep your workforce firing on all cylinders by extending support where it’s needed. The Intune Suite boasts Microsoft Intune Remote Help, enabling secure assistance anytime, anywhere. This reinforces the Zero Trust security model while enabling swift issue resolution, regardless of your team’s location.
Elevated Security and Compliance
Cyber threats loom large, but Intune’s advanced security features offer solace. Robust encryption, secure access controls, and the ability to quarantine risky devices provide layers of protection. Got sensitive data or compliance needs? Intune’s auditing and reporting capabilities have you covered.
Simplified App Management
Apps are the lifeblood of modern businesses, and Intune recognizes this. Its app management prowess empowers you to deploy, update, and retire applications with ease across all devices. Intune harmonizes teams, whether they’re working with Microsoft 365 apps or third-party software.
The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend has gained momentum in corporate circles. If your company embraces BYOD, Intune can be a game-changer. It segregates personal and corporate data on employee devices, ensuring the security of confidential company information.
Scalability and Budget-Friendliness: As your business expands, so do your tech needs. Intune gracefully accommodates new devices and users without skipping a beat. Plus, its subscription-based model lets you pay for exactly what you need. No more upfront costs, just a predictable monthly fee.
Points to Ponder
Now, before you dive headfirst into the Intune Suite excitement, let’s address some potential considerations on your journey:
Learning Curve: One common concern is the learning curve. If your team is accustomed to a different management solution, transitioning to Intune might require a bit of acclimatization. Don’t worry; we offer training and support to ensure a smooth transition.
Legacy Systems: Do legacy systems or a multitude of on-premises servers form the backbone of your business? Introducing Intune into your existing setup might demand some extra effort. It’s imperative to evaluate your current infrastructure and compatibility prerequisites before embarking on this adventure.
Conclusion: The big takeaway…
There is a LOT to consider here. The fact that you read all the way through (you didn’t just jump to the conclusion, did you?) shows that you are committed to the best solution for your business.
Every business has its own needs and unique idiosyncrasies. I can’t answer for you what, if any, solution is best for your organization. What I can broad stroke recommend though, is that if no specific need out of the discussion above stood out to you, then you probably don’t need the full Intune Suite or Plan 2. What you almost certainly need is Intune Plan 1 though, which brings a major improvement to security and operating efficiency over not having it.
You should really start there, and it’s the easiest point of entry with the M365 Business Premium license. Check what licenses you currently have and if you need to make any changes to them. Speak with your IT provider to discuss the specifics of your needs and what their recommendation is.
If you don’t have an IT provider, feel free to reach out and book a quick discovery call. Partnering with our clients to make informed decisions about their technology is what we do every day.