I was fortunate enough to be one of the partners invited to be part of the Q&A panel for this session along with some other members of the Microsoft Partner Advisory Council for Cloud. Today’s post is a quick summary of some of the questions that we received, and the different responses the panel replied.

One of the first questions that was asked was why Windows Intune versus many of the competing solutions, and there were many responses to this. There were really three main answers, with some variations, and they were the suite of components included within Windows Intune for the price, the simplified approach for customers who wanted something that they could understand without a heavy investment in staff training, and the final reason was around having customers that were already committed to cloud solutions, especially those with Office 365 deployed or planned.

Out of these, the one that probably caught a few in the audience by surprise was the suite of functionality that Windows Intune provided for the price, many weren’t aware of the SKU changes that allow 5 devices and the option to buy without the Windows Enterprise upgrade licensing element. At $6US per user, the pricing is very attractive to those organisations who are facing more and more staff with smartphones and tablets, alongside their traditional desktop or laptop PC. That said, for customers without Software Assurance on the desktop, the Windows Enterprise capability is a great enabler of further capabilities with Direct Access for example, and could play a bigger role with the rapidly approaching Windows XP end of life.

There was a question about scalability issues with Windows Intune, that is, what had been encountered. Microsoft allows approximately 5000 users and 15000 devices per tenant in cloud only mode, but these limits are removed if SCCM integration is part of the solution. The other part of the scalability story is the impact on internet and network performance while relying on an external patch management solution. The ability for Windows 7 and Windows 7 clients to use the peer distribution capabilities is something that I have praised previously, and it’s another reason to help move away from XP.

This did raise the issue of how does a partner scale with Windows Intune when they have a large number of tenants, and one of the things that we were happy to discuss is that this is an area that needs improvement. Having to perform manual tasks repeatedly without an option to script them can be a pain, but as part of the Partner Advisory Committee it’s our responsibility to make sure that this information is relayed to the product team so that it stays on the radar for future upgrades.

Another area that was covered was around how Windows Intune has changed the partners’ business models and offerings, and a common theme was around the scale of support that is deliverable. The ease with which new hires can be brought up to speed versus the complexity of the other desktop management solutions that are out there was a topic of discussion in this section as well. Most of the partners in the room were already selling Office 365, so this was something that they understood and appreciated, which was let Microsoft do the hard work on the infrastructure side.

Finally, the topic of approaching low bandwidth environments that are largely unmanaged was raised, and covered it briefly but took the conversation offline to discuss it further with the attendee after the session, and it was something I’ve been meaning to write about for a while, so stay tuned in, I’ll cover it soon.

A huge thank you to those who braved the maze of hallways in the convention center to attend, if you remember something that was covered that I haven’t posted here let me know and I’ll update the post. If you want to catch up with me at WPC, get in touch via WPC Connect, or head along to my next session on Wednesday where I will be covering Windows Intune in the CIE.