MDM & GP Tips Blog

Nov 2018
19

What is Azure AD connect, and how is it related to Intune?

If you are familiar with the concept of Windows Server Active Directory, then you already have a good idea of what Azure AD is.  It essentially is a cloud version of Active Directory which was introduced in Server 2000, which seems like forever ago.  In technical terms, it is Microsoft’s cloud-based identity and access management service.  The basic concept of the two AD’s is the same; users logon and authenticated to AD and then access resources.

So why the need for Azure AD?  Well, we live in a different world today than we did when Server 2000 was unveiled.  We live in a mobile age that is dominated by the Internet and traditional AD wasn’t designed for a world like that.  Azure AD on the other hand is designed to support web-based services that use Representational State Transfer API interfaces.  In simple terms, it was created for cloud based applications such as Office 365, Salesforce.com, etc.  To do that, it had to be based on completely different protocols, specifically SAML and OAuth 2.0. 

There are a number of versions of Azure AD:

  • Azure Active Directory Free
  • Azure Active Directory Basic
  • Azure Active Directory Premium P1
  • Azure Active Directory Premium P2

The differences between these different versions is two fold.  As you move up from the free version, you get more features, which of course, you guessed it, costs more money.  Except for Azure Active Directory Free, which is complimentary if you have a paid subscription to Office 365, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, Enterprise Mobility Suite, or other Microsoft services, the other versions require some sort of subscription free that goes up along with the number of feature packages.

There are several integral components of Azure AD.  They are:

  • Azure AD Directory – the equivalent to the domain of Windows Server AD, it is what contains the tenant’s users, groups, apps, devices, etc.
  • Azure AD Account – an identity created through Azure AD or another Microsoft cloud service such as Office 365.

The Azure AD account gives users access to their organization’s cloud service subscriptions.  On a Windows 10 device, it is referred to as a Work or School Account.  The screenshot below illustrates how one would manually join a Windows 10 device to Azure AD.

Azure AD is highly scalable.  Even the free version can contain 500,000 objects.  With so many users, accounts and applications, an organization undoubtedly needs one or more administrators to manage everything.  Below is the management screen of Azure AD. 

So how does Azure AD relate to Intune? 

Well, the two work hand-in-hand. 

In practivcal terms, you really cannot have Intune with Azure AD. 

In the same way that Windows Group Policy helped deliver and manage settings for Windows domain join machines, Intune is the mobile device management tool that integrates with Azure AD in order to manage settings as well.  It also protects your organization’s resources by controlling how users can access and share it and can lock down devices that may have been stolen or compromised. 

 

Nov 2018
14

What is Enterprise Mobility + Security E3 vs E5? (and which should you pick for Intune?)

There are a number of things that are complicated and hard to comprehend at first.  College algebra, quantum physics and Microsoft pricing when it comes to their cloud services.  For instance, here is a screenshot of just some of the available licensing for a school system that currently utilizes Microsoft cloud services.

At first glance, trying to wrap your head around all of the available licensing options can be as exhaustive as contemplating the size of the universe.  There are so many ways to slice and dice subscription licensing when it comes to Office 365, Intune, Azure, etc.  For the sake of this blog series, we are going to make it simple. 

You want the ability to do mobile device management, which means Intune.  You also want Azure AD.  That combination pairs your options down to one of two Enterprise Mobility Suite packages (EMS).  Before EMS, Microsoft only offered their products separately such as:

  • Azure Active Directory Premium
  • Microsoft Intune
  • Azure Information Protection
  • Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics

Microsoft then offered EMS combos that bundled features together in a single option for simplicity’s sake.  As of today, there are two EMS bundle offerings which are outlined below:

Feature

Enterprise Mobility + Security E3

Enterprise Mobility + Security E5

Azure Active Directory

P1

P2

Intune

Included

Included

Azure Information Protection

P1

P2

Advanced Threat Analytics

Included

Included

Cloud App Security

N/A

Included

So what is P1 and P2?  Well P2 includes more advanced features and capabilities.  For instance, the P1 bundle for Azure Active Directory gives you the ability to secure single sign-on to cloud and on premise apps.  It also offers multifactor authentication (MFA) conditional access and advanced security reporting.  P2 includes all of that plus offers Identity Protection and Privileged Identity Management (PIM) and advanced capability concerning identity protection.

E5 of course is more expensive.  So should you get E3 or E5?  Well, just like buying a car, this isn’t a decision that a business should make without a little time and consideration concerning what the needs of the organization actually are, as well as their budget.  Your decision also depends on what other Microsoft cloud services you subscribe to as well such as Office 365.  I told you it was complicated.  If you want to test drive all of the features that E5 has to offer, the good news is that you can sign up for an E5 trial.  That part I can truly say, is easy.

Nov 2018
12

What is Intune MDM Enrollment vs. Azure Workplace Join?

When you join a Windows machine in the traditional way to a network, you have the choice of joining a workgroup or a domain.  A workgroup has limited features.  It really just gives just each device the ability to share files with one another and that is about it.  A domain was a far better choice in most instances because it offers all of the management and security abilities you need in an enterprise.

I use that analogy to describe the difference between MDM Enrollment and Azure Workplace.   Azure Workplace join is not the same as Intune MDM. 

It is however a first step to enrolling in MDM because a device has to joined to Azure AD before it can be enrolled in Intune.  With Azure Workplace, you’re really just “half way there” (as the man to Bon Jovi would say, well, sing really.),

And there is really minimal of advantages to just being "half way" there. 

Azure Workplace is really just about allowing other people to bring their own devices (BYOD) to join your Azure AD and enjoy a few benefits such as:

  • single-sign-on (SSO) functionality to cloud services
  • access to the Windows store
  • ability to logon a device using an organizational work or school account

What you can’t do with Azure Workplace is:

  • Deploy applications or
  • Manage settings or
  • Lockdown a machine
  • Wipe it
  • Control it. 

All of that takes full MDM enrollment.  But if you are looking for a quick way for a dozen temp workers or contractors to join your Azure AD, it is ample to get the job done.

You can tell if your device is only Azure Workplace joined.  If you click “Manage your account on your Windows Profile page, the page will open in a web browser.  In the screenshot below, you can see where the computer is only “Workplace joined” and not MDM enrolled.

But you can see for yourself if you click on the flag, click Manage your account, and open the page in a Browser, like Edge. You’ll see in Figure 2.23 where the computer is merely “Workplace joined” and not MDM enrolled. 

Note the Windows flag like icon which is also an indicator of Workplace joined status.  If the machine were MDM enrolled, it would be replaced by a briefcase.  In the end, if you want the full Monty, you need to complete the two-part process and become MDM enrolled on top of merely registering with Azure.

Nov 2018
08

What is an MDM deep link (and how can I use it to enroll computers into Intune?)

The goal of IT today is to make IT processes as automated as possible so that your IT professionals that are being paid the big bucks don’t have to spend all of their time on trivial tasks such as MDM enrolling devices.  You also don’t want them answering help desk calls all day from users who are confused how to follow the steps on their own that you sent them. 

Well, as you might expect, there is another way.  You can use deep links.  Let’s say you have a new employee with his own BYOD system, and you need their new device to be MDM enrolled.  You send them a nice friendly email that say something like:

Welcome aboard.  We need you to enroll your new Windows 10 laptop.  Please click here to do so.

(Don't worry, that link won't send you to siberia or anything.)

You can check it.. that embedded hyperlink actually points to:

ms-device-enrollment:?mode=mdm

You could also put a link on your company’s portal page and inform users to click the link to enroll a new device.  Clicking this link will launch the flow equivalent to the Enroll into device management option in Windows 10, except it will do the kickoff via the browser.  Note that only Edge and Internet Explorer appear supported however for deep links during my testing. 

Your users still have to input some information. 

Buuuut... If you want to make it even easier for them, you could append their username as a parameter in the link so that it would already be filled in the Email address box.

ms-device-enrollment:?mode=mdm&[email protected]

Note that this option parameter and others are only available in Windows 10, version 1703 or later.

Of course there are more MDM solutions than just Intune.  If you are using Workspace One as your MDM, you may be required to enter a specific server name.  Once again, you can bypass the process of having your users input these specifics in manually by adding the server name parameter.

ms-devicenrollment:?mode=mdm&[email protected]&servername=https://techp-ds.awmdm.com

The result would look like this:

Note that there are other optional parameters such as ownership which denotes wheter the device is BYOD or owned by the business enterprise.  Another one is deviceidentifier which passes a unique identifier onto the device.

The point is that Deep Links is made to make it easy and comfortable for users to self enroll themselves.  Self deployment is one of the goals of cloud computing. 

Nov 2018
07

What is an MDM authority (and how do I set it up in Intune?)

Before you go about adding your first device to Intune, you have to choose your MDM authority for your tenant.  The mobile device management authority determines where you will perform mobile device management tasks.  In a domain joined network, the authority would be either Group Policy or SCCM for instance.  There are three options to configure the tenant-level MDM authority.

  1. Intune MDM Authority
  2. Configuration Manager MDM Authority
  3. None

Intune MDM Authority used to be known as Intune Standalone.  This is a better name descriptor in that using this option, all mobile device management tasks will take place within Intune exclusively.  The second option, Configuration Manager MDM Authority was once known as Hybrid MDM.  Using this option means that devices are managed through a combination of Intune and SCCM Configuration Manager.  You should know that this hybrid ability will be depreciated as of Sept. 1, 2019.  On that date, Microsoft will stop delivering "policy, apps or security updates" to hybrid MDM users.  You can interpret this as strong encouragement by Microsoft to transition to Intune on Azure.  Really, Hybrid Intune was only meant to be a transition state for companies to begin their migrations to the cloud.

Configuring the MDM Authority for your tenant couldn’t be easier.  If you are configuring your MDM Authority for the first time, you can simply logon to the Intune administrator console.  If you are currently running in Hybrid MDM or Configuration Manager MDM Authority, you can either access the Intune administrator console or the Configuration Manager console of your SCCM server to initiate the process.  In this case, I will use the example of assigning the MDM Authority for the very first time.  Once you are logged on, simply go to Device enrollment.

Then you will see the option “Choose MDM Authority.”  Note that if you have assigned your MDM Authority already, this option will not be visible. 

Note that you can only transition from Configuration Manager MDM Authority to Intune MDM Authority and not vise versa.  Also know that while it was true at one time that you had to contact Microsoft support to change from hybrid to stand alone, that requirement is now null and void.  The entire MDM Authority selection process is self serve and simple.  Keep in mind that there may be a transition time involved when changing between the two types of authority modes.  Once the MDM Authority assignment process is complete, you can begin the process of enrolling devices.