Microsoft aims to streamline its device-management strategy with Endpoint Manager

Microsoft Endpoint Manager is a new brand and bundle which encompasses both ConfigMgr and Intune, along with other products and services.

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Credit: Microsoft

IT pros who've been wondering (and worrying) about System Center Configuration Manager's future can breathe a sigh of relief after last week's Ignite 2019 show. Microsoft isn't going to force ConfigMgr users to go all-in with Intune any time soon, as some had feared. Instead, Microsoft unveiled a new strategy that is meant to incorporate both ConfigMgr and Intune management products. 

Last week, Microsoft announced a new brand, Microsoft Endpoint Manager, which at some point will replace both the ConfigMgr and Intune brands. Endpoint Manager is more than just a new name, however. The new Endpoint Manager includes Device Management Admin Center and Desktop Analytics, plus the co-management feature for managing devices using either ConfigMgr or Intune. Additional "intelligent actions" are coming, as well.   

Microsoft had sought to position ConfigMgr and Intune as a continuum, said Brad Anderson, a Microsoft Corporate Vice President for Microsoft 365. "But branding, licensing and the product all worked against us," he told me during an interview at Ignite last week.

That's a key reason Microsoft is changing the licensing around the products so that any customer who owns ConfigMgr also now automatically owns Intune, Anderson said. That's a big deal given of the 190 million devices now managed by EndPoint Manager, only "single digits" of those are being managed exclusively using Intune, he added. Most business users are using ConfigMgr to manage their PCs and Intune to manage their mobile devices, according to Microsoft. That's why the company launched the co-management path via which users attach Intune to ConfigMgr deployments.

Microsoft will be sharing more specifics about the coming licensing changes over the coming months. But officials are saying that customers who want to manage non-Windows-based devices using EndPoint Manager will need to either purchase or already have an Intune license, an Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS) license or a Microsoft 365 E3 or E5 license.

"Comanagement is a destination, not a bridge," Anderson said -- a sentiment repeated in Microsoft's blog post about the new EndPoint Manager offering. 

A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document about Endpoint Manager is available here.