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System Center 2012 SP1 and Windows Intune 4 review

Microsoft upgrades its cloud management service

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Our Verdict

For

  • Simple management of Windows RT and iOS
  • Creates an apps portal
  • Integration between System Center and Intune

Against

  • Managing Android devices requires Active Directory and an on-premise connecter for Exchange
  • Intune requires Silverlight

Need to manage PCs and devices in your company? Microsoft has two new solutions.

The latest version of Microsoft's System Center management software adds support for new Microsoft products. Some new features, such as deploying Windows 8 and configuring Windows RT, that will be useful to most businesses. Others will suit companies with more complex IT infrastructure that want to build private and hybrid cloud solutions.

System Center 2012 SP1 provides tools to build something from the blocks in Microsoft's operating systems. You can use it for everything from deploying group policy objects to administering instances on Windows Azure.

For smaller companies, however, it could be too complex and Microsoft's cloud management service, Intune is more suitable.

Intune enables you to manage mobile devices and Windows PCs over the internet without waiting for users to connect to a VPN. The new release of Intune adds features for managing Windows RT and sideloading applications, as well as support for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 and much stronger management options for iOS.

It also simplifies some tasks, such as creating dynamic groups to manage users in Active Directory, and allows you to prevent users changing options for the Intune agent, which provides malware protection for their PCs.

SC link to Intune
Link System Center 2012 SP1 to Intune to manage mobile users and deploy apps

Some companies want the combination of System Center and Intune. It can provide on-premise management of servers and desktops on the company network plus remote management of notebooks, tablets and phones that are rarely on VPN.

System Center and Intune have been developed by the same team over the past two years, but it's only this release that allows admins to manage users and devices through both services from the System Center Configuration Manager console, and get reports that cover both.