Updated on November 24, 2021
With Microsoft® pushing Azure® on all of their customers, there is no doubt that many IT admins are considering every service that Azure offers. Among those services, one that is drawing a good deal of attention is Intune®. With device management becoming more critical in hybrid work environments due to the pandemic, it is no wonder that many IT organizations are searching for MDM-like solutions. In this blog post, we will discuss what Intune is, its target market, and Intune alternatives.
Intune and Mobile
Intune is Microsoft’s answer to the both the MDM (mobile device management) and MAM (mobile application management) markets. With increasing mobile and mixed platform device usage, IT organizations are working hard to find ways to corral them. Intune is one such solution with its intent to provide IT organizations a way to manage mobile devices and mobile applications leveraging iOS and Android. Along with it, of course, Microsoft also added in support for Windows® systems. Perhaps surprisingly, Microsoft threw in some basic macOS® management capabilities as well.
Intune, SCCM/ConfigMgr, & Endpoint Configuration Manager
These abilities have propelled many to perceive Intune as the next generation System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM or ConfigMgr), but perception is not always reality. Historically, SCCM, along with Active Directory®, was aimed at on-prem Windows systems and server implementations. Even SCCM seems to be transitioning to what is now being called Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager, which appears to be effectively SCCM-like functionality delivered from the cloud rather than an on-prem solution.
Intune’s target market, on the other hand, is really those that are leveraging Azure® and Microsoft 365® and would like to manage access to these solutions while containing it to compliant devices only. Ultimately, Intune works well for Microsoft-centric organizations and those focused on MDM-related activities (iOS and Android focused). So, while there is some overlap in the ability to manage systems via Endpoint Configuration Manager or the legacy ConfigMgr, the use cases are generally much different.
Potential Intune Alternatives
In light of this, it becomes easier to think of Intune alternatives. One set of alternatives is made up of solutions that directly compete with Intune; specifically, the tools that comprise the MDM market, of which there are many competing players. These can include solutions that are mixed platform MDMs, but also ones that focus on a particular operating system / vendor such as Apple-focused MDMs for Mac management and iOS control.
The other way that some are thinking of this problem has to do with concepts that surround Intune like cloud-based device management. In a sense, with the shift to cloud management tools, the promise of this category is to be able to manage all devices in an organization – servers, workstations, mobile devices, and more – from a central cloud-based solution: One platform to fully manage the entire lifecycle for all devices in an organization.
Now that we’ve defined the category, what should it do? Well, it should be able to deploy/provision, configure, manage, secure, and retire a mixed platform environment of devices including macOS®, Linux®, and Windows® systems as well as iOS and Android. In addition to cross-platform environments, this alternative solution must be able to handle cross-provider environments that utilize AWS®, Digital Ocean, GCE, Azure, and others.
Cloud-Based Directory Services
In the latter category lies such a solution. This next-generation cloud identity management platform is reinventing the concept of Active Directory with cross-platform system and user management – a replacement for SCCM and potentially Intune. It’s called JumpCloud Directory Platform and it’s providing secure cross-platform system management tools in the form of GPO-like policies, ad hoc command execution, and MDM capabilities.
From the centralized directory platform, IT admins can deploy system policies like automatic OS updates, screen lock timers, and full disk encryption (FDE). They can ship Mac devices via Zero Touch enrollment processes to end users without ever touching the machine. Windows security commands ensure devices are secure. Plus, IT can do it all remotely which is especially critical during the shift to remote work.
But, system/device management is not the only focus for JumpCloud. Its cloud directory also has the ability to manage user access to these systems (a capability that Intune does not possess) along with virtually any IT resource that users may need including web and on-prem applications, file servers in the cloud and on-prem, and networks via RADIUS—all with one set of credentials by way of True Single Sign-On™.
Ready to Learn More?
JumpCloud is an Intune alternative for heterogeneous organizations looking to leverage cross-platform solutions (e.g. Win/Mac/Linux) and cross-provider tools (web applications, cloud infrastructure, on-prem solutions, and more). If that sounds like you, sign up for a JumpCloud account today.
JumpCloud Free enables you to manage up to 10 users and 10 systems free with the all features including premium services such as Zero Trust, System Insights, and more. Once you’ve signed up, visit our Knowledge Base to help you get the most of your JumpCloud account.