Manage the Network Security from the Cloud using Windows Intune

While everything is moving to the cloud, you may wonder if it would be possible to manage the computers in the network from the cloud? The answer is yes, using Microsoft Windows Intune, you can protect your PCs from network threats and malware, manage security policies and firewalls, easily deploy the latest Microsoft security updates and help safeguard data with Bitlocker and Bitlocker to Go in Windows 7 Enterprise.

Microsoft believes Windows Intune, their web-based PC management service, is well-suited for companies and businesses with around 500 PCs. InTune bypasses (but respects) Active Directory (AD) and Group Policy (GP), offering instead a pretty simpler set of management capabilities that should be welcome to overtaxed IT departments in mid-sized businesses.

InTune hits a nice balance. It consists of a Silverlight-based web console that looks and feels a lot like Microsoft’s on-premise consoles as well as a set of client agents. From the web console, you can view details about the connected computers (alert statuses, update statuses, and malware protection statuses); view, manage, and configure how updates will be applied to your managed computers; view the anti-malware status for managed computers; view alerts, survey the software and software versions that are installed across your managed computers; optionally manage volume licenses to ensure that the software in your environment is correctly licensed; create and manage (non-GP) policies, view and create reports, and perform other administrative tasks.

Managed clients can include PCs running Windows XP SP2+, Vista, or 7 and requires a software agent install. For those environments using GP, Microsoft provides instructions for properly configuring the client (to avoid policy conflicts) and rollout the agent. Smaller outfits can deploy the client manually.

Windows Intune also does not support mobile devices like smartphones and tablets; it supports only Windows PCs. But Main says Microsoft plans to extend the support to mobile devices in future versions.

Microsoft also plans to integrate Windows Intune with Office 365 so that IT pros can use Intune to deploy Office in the cloud. But right now, that integration is not in place for Windows Intune 2.0.