Microsoft Device Management Options: Intune vs. Configuration Manager

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Microsoft has recently provided guidance in choosing between System Center Configuration Manger (ConfigMgr) in a TechNet article. This article is very complete and even provides a decision framework to help organizations determine the right solution based on their specific requirements. However, for those that are not already familiar with the products and their capabilities, it might be a somewhat difficult to follow. Here’s my simplified version of the guidance from Microsoft.

Intune is a cloud based service that focuses on mobile device management (MDM) and is rapidly adding new features specifically for MDM to keep pace with device and mobile OS feature release from multiple vendors such as Apple, Google, Samsung, etc. Intune is a light weight solution with built in reports and security roles that can accommodate tens of thousands of devices.

System Center Configuration Manager (ConfigMgr) is an on premise solution with an over twenty-year legacy of managing enterprise devices (PCs, Servers). ConfigMgr offers rich reporting and full Role based access controls (RBAC) for granular security administration. Depending on the architectural implementation, ConfigMgr can scale to hundreds of thousands of devices.

ConfigMgr is pervasive in enterprise environments. In fact, well over two thirds of all domain joined PCs have a ConfigMgr license attached to them. For many organizations that already have ConfigMgr in place, it may be unclear what Intune provides them in addition to the rich desktop management toolset that they are already comfortable with.

The Venn diagram below is my simplified illustration of what each product offers from a functionality perspective:

Some key decision factors include:

Factor System Center Configuration Manager Microsoft


No internet connection
More than 50K device
Full MDM
No on premise Infrastructure

Now that I have simplified your decision process, if one of these doesn’t meet all of your needs, you still have another option:

Hybrid Mode

You can connect an Intune subscription to ConfigMgr and then you get the combined functionality of both products managed through the ConfigMgr console. For complete instructions on how to connect Intune to ConfigMgr go here.

Once connected, the management authority for Intune is passed to ConfigMgr and breaking the relationship is non-trivial so make sure this is really what you want to do.

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