How To Distribute Apps and Reduce Infrastructure Overhead With Microsoft Intune
By Gabriel Taylor
Published November 4, 2021
Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Inefficient app deployment is one of the big causes of resource waste (and endpoint security holes) that we address here at Model Technology Solutions. Having a non-automated solution for app deployment:

  • Steals valuable time from your IT team that could be allocated elsewhere
  • Extends the time between app updates during which a vulnerability could be exploited
  • Increases the likelihood of users resorting to Shadow IT to fill their needs

Shadow IT is a significant cause today of infrastructure data breaches. And not having the right apps available readily on the right endpoints increases the likelihood of those end users downloading and installing something of their own.

Compare this to an app deployment process that is:

  • Automated
  • Timely
  • Efficient
  • Curated
  • Gives a sense of ownership and choice to end users

The utopia of app delivery is a process that delivers the right apps (and their updates) to the right users as soon as they become available, all with as little effort from the IT team as possible. A system like this gives many benefits to the IT team and end users across the company, including:

  • Ensuring a consistent experience for employees
  • Standardizing the user experience across devices
  • Minimizing IT effort in device provisioning and configuration
  • Reducing IT effort to maintain the infrastructure needed for application deployment

The good news is that this kind of app deployment is entirely possible with just Microsoft Intune, a product which you likely already have access to with your Microsoft 365 investment. Leveraging Intune for application deployment provides a powerful solution to deploy apps to your company devices, whether they are Windows, Android, or Apple.

In this post, we’re going to go through some of the major features so that you know the full capacity of this powerful product at your disposal.

What Is Microsoft Intune?

According to Microsoft’s own definition, Intune is a cloud-based app to “manage devices using an approach that’s right for you.” Intune enables management of all your endpoints—desktops, laptops, and mobile devices; Windows, Apple, and Linux—from a single pane of glass. This control allows devices to be managed using rules, settings, and policies that improve security, reduces administrative overhead, makes your and your team’s lives easier, and improves infrastructure health.

According to Microsoft, once a device is enrolled in Intune, administrators can:

  • See all your devices enrolled and get an inventory of devices which are utilizing your organization’s resources.
  • Configure your devices so they meet your security and health standards.
  • Push certificates to your devices so users can use a VPN or access Wi-Fi.
  • Create report reports on your users and devices’ compliance.
  • Erase organization data if one of your devices is lost, stolen, or not used anymore.

To read more about Intune in general, you can visit the Microsoft Documentation here and use an interactive guide of the software.

For our post, however, we’re going to focus on the benefits Intune brings to your application deployment processes.

Intune App Deployment Feature Highlights

Intune Syncs with Different App Stores

Intune is universal in the best sense of the word. It integrates with the Apple App Store, Android Play, and the Microsoft store. This versatility allows you to give users a self-service “menu” of sorts for company-approved apps that can be downloaded and utilized from any store. It can also reduce your workload by deploying approved apps and managing app updates on user devices automatically. Automatic app deployment can be configured based on job title, department, group membership, or other user attributes so that everyone gets the right apps to do their job every time.

Intune has Wide Support for Application Packaging

Intune isn’t just restricted to the different stores. Intune also provides tools for packaging non-store apps and making them available for distribution. There’s not even any need for managing app package storage or distribution networks. All you have to do is upload installers to Intune and Microsoft’s CDN delivers the packages efficiently to the endpoints without any interaction with your IT team.

And just like with store apps, non-store apps can be configured for user self-service and for automated deployment, empowering your users to fulfill their job responsibilities without extra effort by the user or your IT team.

Adding Apps to Intune Is Simple and Easy

Whether an in-store or non-store, adding apps to Intune is very easy. You simply select the app either in-store or the app package file, add any metadata you need, assign it to any appropriate users or endpoints, and you’re done! Also, Intune’s app packaging tools provide a simple process for packaging non-store apps into optimal formats, if needed.

For a full description of how to add apps to Intune, you can read the Microsoft documentation here.

Azure AD Groups and Filters Allow for Granular App Control

Intune provides powerful capabilities to get applications to the users and devices that need them by leveraging Azure AD Groups and Filters. Azure AD groups give you the ability to assign apps based on groups of users, making sure the right apps get to the right employees. The Intune Filters feature gives even more control over this process, allowing for even more granular specifications on who gets access to what apps and in what context.

When these two powerful features are combined and properly configured, the entire app delivery process can be almost completely automated. This automation frees you and your team up to focus their effort towards new value-added projects to benefit the business. It also ensures users have the apps they need without needing to lift a finger, make a phone call, or submit a ticket.

As before, for a full description of how to add apps to AD Groups in Intune, you can read the Microsoft documentation here.

The Intune Ideal

Properly configured Intune can provide a blissful app-deployment experience, improve security, and reduce overhead to boot. In an ideal world, fully leveraging the power of Intune can enable a fully-automated app deployment process where:

  • Users are up and running automatically without needing interaction with and support from IT. 
  • IT can focus their time on projects to propel the business forward rather than fighting fires with device configuration. 

All this from a single product you likely already own and use to some capacity.

We’re going to be talking more about Intune in future posts. So if you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for our newsletter and keep an eye out in your inbox for more posts like this one.

Article By Gabriel Taylor
With over 12 years of experience in the IT industry, Gabriel brings a focus on repeatable processes, solution design, and quality execution to Model’s Project Services practice. He believes the true value of technology is how it enables businesses to gain efficiencies, increase productivity, and achieve their goals. He is proud to work with Model’s team of experts to bring those benefits to Model’s clients.

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