1E’s MVP end-of-year round-up. #2 Ed Aldrich on Intune

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Ed Aldrich on Intune

Here’s another (enterprise IT) end-o’-year round-up from one of our in-house Microsoft MVPs (this time stressing the present and future significance of getting to grips with Intune).

Today, we have the esteemed Ed Aldrich.

Most significant trend of 2016?

I’ve been working in systems management since the late eighties. People like me, we’ve had to go through an awful lot of changes as that tool we made our living with evolved over time. Today, you see more and more enterprise level companies moving to Office 365, which essentially puts your exchange environment in the cloud, and means that MS is managing those backends, if you will, on those enterprises’ behalf.

Likewise, you are also confronted with the challenge of MS moving your systems management platform into a cloud environment. You’ve got Operations Manager and so forth which are already cloud based: Configuration Manager is the last of the Mohicans, as it were, that is still struggling to get into the cloud.

That kind of puts administrators in a difficult position. The admins have historically relied upon being able to walk into a data centre and touch their Configuration Manager server infrastructure. Now MS is moving more towards a cloud-based, off-prem model. The administrators are really trying to get their heads around this.

Biggest surprise of 2016?

The big surprise is the speed of the adoption of a quasi cloud-based implementation of Configuration Manager – what they are referring to as Intune, Microsoft’s enterprise client management platform. This is a hybrid combination of a traditional on-prem Configuration Manager infrastructure, with a cloud-based solution that allows the enterprise to start managing so-called mobile devices: the tablets, the cell phones, and so on, and to integrate that with the on-prem Configuration Manager consol.

Here the US is lagging behind a big part of the world with the speed by which we’re adopting Intune.

Biggest disappointment of 2016?

This year I’ve had to work very hard to get my head around Intune. I’ve taken the approach of being a typical ConfigMgr administrator whose CIO has said, ‘we’ve got to get on this Intune bandwagon: get us prepared for this and figure it out’ (I guarantee there are thousands in exactly that spot) and not rely on any inside track resources I have as an MVP – I’ve been on MS.com like anyone else trying to figure it out.

Now, for years, MS has taken a massive beating around the quality of its available documentation, on any number of its enterprise products. And I was shocked to see that there’s a huge amount of MS Intune-specific content that is incredibly good, but almost too much of it: I was drowning in search hits. I’d go and search, and was overwhelmed trying to get my head around it all. That was the biggest irritation I had!

Hero of 2016?

My personal hero in the space is a MS guy called Jeff Gilbert. One of his most recent positions was as head of the Configuration Manager documentation team. He and his staff were the ones responsible for authoring and publishing this massive amount of information out there. He’s also very active traveling around the country, and doing presentations on enterprise client management and Intune. He is a very accessible fellow, and a hugely valuable resource on the whole subject: a genuinely great guy, and a key player in this entire space.

Tip for 2017?

My tip for system administrators in 2017 is this: learn Intune. It’s not going away, no matter how many people gripe about putting infrastructure into the cloud. At some point over the next ten years, I would expect the systems manager solutions will all be purely cloud based. It won’t happen tomorrow but it’s coming.

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Thomas McGrath
Thomas McGrath is a journalist, presenter and digital content specialist. He has written for the likes of Telecoms.com, Digital TV Europe and Business Cloud News, among others, covering topics such as apps, the Internet of Things and TV. He lives in London with his wife, son and cat.