April 01, 2020

The new approach to modern management: Microsoft Endpoint Manager explained

Do you remember the cronut phenomenon? Way back in 2013 this croissant-doughnut hybrid attracted throngs of sweet-toothed foodies who queued for hours to taste the now infamous bakery treat. It was a case where convergence really could create something new and better.

The idea that you can improve on classics by merging ‘things’ has not been confined solely to the culinary world. In technology, it’s become a key trend. None more so than in enterprise endpoint management where the proliferation of devices, application availability and user access requirements have introduced new complexities for IT to navigate.

This is where Microsoft Endpoint Manager comes in. It’s Microsoft’s latest move in their modern management quest, and its recent arrival signals a return to simplicity when it comes to delivering, managing and securing the modern workplace.

But while the cronut garnered considerable global attention, Microsoft Endpoint Manager has flown under the radar. Many are unaware of its existence, or remain in the dark about how it works and what it means for them. Today, we’re going to right this wrong, as we share how it supports organisations to embrace the many advantages of modern management – whether you have a cloud, on-premises or hybrid environment.

First, a quick recap of the evolution of Microsoft’s endpoint management solutions:

  • 1994 – Microsoft released Systems Management Server (SMS) to allow users to manage a large number of Windows-based computers.
  • 2007 – SMS was renamed System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) – or sometimes called Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (ConfigMgr) – allowing users to manage PCs, servers, and mobile devices.
  • 2011 – Microsoft launched Microsoft Intune, a cloud-based endpoint management system for enterprise and BYOD devices. Users log into microsoft.com to access it.
  • May 2019 – Microsoft released an updated Intune portal accessible via devicemanagement.microsoft.com
  • November 2019 – Microsoft announced Microsoft Endpoint Manager. Essentially, it’s the next evolution of Intune (accessible at the same location) and consolidates a number of existing portals and platforms into one unified endpoint solution.

What is Endpoint Manager (and why should I use it)?

It’s an end-to-end solution that merges the functionality and data of Microsoft Intune, Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager, Device Management Admin Center (DMAC), Windows Autopilot, Desktop Analytics, and more. By bringing all of these platforms together under the one roof, users can access all the information generated across their on-prem and cloud environment via a single pane of glass – with the added advantage that some previously invisible data can now be accessed from the portal.

The fact that it provides a common and consistent tool to manage and enable users across all their devices vastly simplifies management. This convergence also brings new levels of efficiency, visibility and configuration options while providing organisations with the insights and intelligence to make more informed decisions about how they manage their environment.

For the end user, the future looks a little brighter too. Before launching the platform, Microsoft worked with a selection of their customers to explore the impact of Microsoft Endpoint Manager on end users. Using the full capabilities and recommendations within Microsoft 365, they found that modern managed devices saw both boot time and crashes reduce by 85%, while battery life doubled1.

Can I use Endpoint Manager on cloud, on-premises or hybrid?

In 2017, Microsoft created co-management – a solution where an on-premises System Centre Configuration Manager (SCCM) server and Intune could talk to each other. This created a connection between on-prem and cloud workloads, allowing IT to enrol a device in both Intune and SCCM simultaneously.

At the time, Microsoft envisaged co-management as a bridge to get you to the cloud with the end goal being that you’ll complete a full migration at some point. Today, however, it’s considered perfectly acceptable, and more likely, to exist in a co-managed state for as long as you want.

If you already run Microsoft technology, there are three options:

  1. Remain on ConfigMgr
  2. Move to Microsoft Intune, or
  3. Take the co-management approach with Microsoft Endpoint Manager

Basically, you can have your cronut and eat it too because the Microsoft Endpoint Manager portal is a web interface that gives you visibility into your fully co-managed, hybrid state – whatever configuration you require. This means your SCCM servers can remain on-premises, but you’ll always be able to manage them via the cloud-based Microsoft Endpoint Manager console.

Organisations with high level security requirements, legacy applications or those who have made substantial investments in their on-premises infrastructure and SCCM, are still able to utilise the added functionality and insights of the new platform. Equally, cloud-based customers have full access.

As a bonus, you can expect more improvements as the platform matures. Just days before publishing this blog – March 2020 – Microsoft announced new enhancements. Where previously only the information generated from Configuration Manager rolled into the Endpoint Manager console, now bi-directional functionality means actions for on-premises devices can now be initiated from the Endpoint Manager console.

I’m interested, how can I access the Endpoint Management portal?

If you are already using the existing portals or tools such as Intune you already have access. There’s nothing to port over. All you need to do is log in via devicemanagement.microsoft.com

Unlike the cronut craze, modern device management is sure to be around for many years. If you’re considering making the move or would like to know more, we’re happy to talk you through your options.

Get in contact with our team to learn more about how Data#3 and Microsoft Endpoint Manager will help enable streamlined device management and security across your organisation, or request a platform walkthrough.

  1. TechCrunch (2019), Microsoft launched Endpoint Manager to modernize device management. Available at: https://techcrunch.com/2019/11/04/microsoft-launched-endpoint-manager-to-modernize-device-management/