In this third part of the Windows Intune review you will learn more about the workspaces Software, Licenses, Policy, Reports, and Administrattion.
The last post of this series covered the Windows Intune workspaces System Overview, Computers, Updates, End Point Protection, and Alerts. Let’s have a look at the other workspaces.
Here you’ll be provided with a collated list of all software packages installed across all managed PCs, this list can be sorted by how many installations you have, publisher, name or category. There’s also an option to drill down to see what’s installed on individual computers, it’ll even tell you if a package is installed as an App-V program. Third party applications are inventoried and categorised as well.
This workspace is unlikely to excite small business but larger environments with volume licensing agreements for Office or Windows can upload license agreement numbers here and manually compare to installed numbers. There’s no enforcement of licensing, only a list of licenses versus install count. Currently it only covers Microsoft’s volume licensing but the Intune team says third party licensing tracking is coming in a future update.
Be warned – if you’re a Group Policy buff you’ll find the policy control available in Intune rather limiting but for many small businesses these might cover the bare necessities. Policies are created for one of three areas, Windows Intune Agent Settings, Windows Intune Center Settings and Windows Firewall Settings. Policies are applied on a computer group basis. The policy agent is based on “lantern” which is the same engine that’s used in Desired Configuration Management (DCM) in Systems Center Configuration Manager. Once policies are applied the Intune agent runs Gpupdate so if there are any conflicts between Group Policy and Intune policies the GP policies will win. Microsoft doesn’t recommend mixing Intune and Group Policy policies on the same computers.
The policy control in Intune is meagre compared to Group Policy but adequate for small business environments
In this workspace you’ll find pre-made reports for updates, installed software and licenses. These are generated on demand and can be viewed directly or exported to HTML or CSV. The latter can be useful if you have a lot of information and want to take advantage of power pivot in Excel for instance.
Comprehensive reporting is just a click away, like this list of installed software with drill down options for individual PCs
Here you can administer Intune, including configure update settings, customise alert and notification settings as well as manage administrator accounts. The Live ID account used to sign up for Intune becomes the Tenant Administrator for the account; you can then add further Service Administrators who each require their own Live ID.
One issue many people have with the concept of cloud services is the lack of control; Windows Intune comes with a 99.9% SLA which is financially backed but that won’t make you feel any better when the service is down. Microsoft offers a service status page (at http://status.manage.microsoft.com/Statuspage/servicedashboard.aspx) with a 30 day service availability history. If you use the link available in the Administration workspace the status page is customised and tells you which geographical area your subscription is hosted in.
At least if there’s a problem with your cloud service you can get some status updates easily//
There’s also a link to download the client software as well as links to documentation on how to automate the distribution of the Intune agent via Group Policy or Systems Center Configuration Manager.
In the fourth and final part we’ll look at the Intune client experience and we’ll compare Intune to other management solutions, both from Microsoft and others as well as look at where it’s going in the future.