By Megan Anderson Posted January 4, 2020
In the wake of the migration away from on-prem infrastructure, Microsoft® is pushing to make their products more cloud-forward. Among these products is Microsoft’s mobile device/application management (MDM/MAM) solution, Intune®. They claim this product allows organizations to operate entirely in the cloud, but there are limitations.
As of now, Intune does not provide the same management capabilities as System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM). Yet, some organizations are looking to replace SCCM in favor of Intune’s simplified, cloud-based architecture. It may be possible to use Intune instead of SCCM for certain organizations, but can Intune really replace SCCM?
SCCM vs Intune: Features and Capabilities
Intune and SCCM are closely related. Many organizations use SCCM with Intune as a complementary service, but those with lighter IT resource management needs may only use Intune. The following comparison outlines their differences.
SCCM, formerly called SMS, is Microsoft’s on-prem system management solution. It’s generally paired with Active Directory® and used to manage fleets of on-prem Windows® machines. Over time, SCCM’s capabilities have expanded to include mobile devices and non-Windows OSs.
With SCCM, admins can manage the deployment, configuration, and level of security enforced over an enterprise’s devices. SCCM also allows admins to protect endpoints by managing the Windows Defender® suite (antivirus and firewall functionality mainly). Other features include:
- Resource access management
- Compliance settings
- OS deployment
- Software update management
- Software deployment
- Legacy support
On its own, SCCM works best for entirely on-prem infrastructures. Admins should note, though, that implementing, configuring, and maintaining SCCM is a complex process. Without the proper skills or experience, SCCM can be more trouble to work with than its potentially worth.
Intune is among one of the many tools that integrate with SCCM to make it cloud-enabled. Microsoft describes Intune as an MDM/MAM solution that integrates with Office 365®. Admins can use it to enforce compliance on devices and set conditional access on Office 365 applications and resources. It’s usually used in tandem with Azure® Active Directory, as outlined by Microsoft here.
In general, Intune lets admins control conditional user access, deploy and authenticate applications, and enforce compliance policies on owned mobile devices.
As a cloud-based application, Intune has a simpler architecture than SCCM. It’s more intuitive and gradually gaining strength in its abilities. The caveat is that it has very little legacy support, meaning any organization looking to leverage only Intune would need to run Windows 10 exclusively. Mac and Linux services are limited at this time too and focused on device ‘enrollment,’ effectively enabling access to mainly Office 365 and other Microsoft applications.
Can Intune Replace SCCM?
Intune still has a ways to go before it can truly replace SCCM. As of now, it works more as a cloud-based SCCM extension. Intune could potentially be used on its own, but only for organizations that run Windows 10, work primarily on mobile devices, and/or don’t need to manage servers. Otherwise, Intune needs to be co-managed with SCCM to attain strong management capabilities.
Regardless, neither tools effectively manage non-Windows OS or cloud-based servers. For organizations with a mixed-platform environment and/or leveraging services such as AWS®, Intune and SCCM can pose problems. It may be worth considering an alternative that’s both cloud-based and platform-agnostic to avoid unnecessary challenges.
Alternatives to Intune and SCCM
For organizations seeking a cloud-based tool that provides complete system management, Directory-as-a-Service may be a good fit. It supports macOS®, Linux®, and both legacy and modern Windows OSs. Admins can deploy and manage software updates, applications, and resource access. Compliance policies can be set across all systems as well, ensuring that all systems are secured, regardless of a user’s preferred OS.
For detailed system information regardless of platform, JumpCloud’s System Insights platform can provide detail asset and configuration information on all three major platforms.
Intune may not be the SCCM replacement, but JumpCloud could be. To see how Directory-as-a-Service works, check out this video or set up a free demo. You can also sign up for a free account to try it yourself.