By Ron Grattopp…..of course, with Windows Intune launching this past week one would expect a lot of commentary on it around the blogoshere.  This particular one, Microsoft's InTune: Price Too High for SMB?, from a “Channel Insider Staff” on the Channel Insider blog caught my attention, and after reading it, I thought it might be worthwhile to do a counterpoint here, as I think the value that Windows Intune brings, rather than being priced too high, is actually one of the more compelling business value propositions that we have.  The author used input from a single analyst (and that not even from a Gartner or Forrester) as a proof text for his post, and even the minimal rationale (and I use that term very loosely here) the analyst proposed was flawed, but hey, this is pretty common for posts on the blogosphere.

If I was one to comment on that post, here’s what I might have said: “Let me get this straight, you get anti-malware, update services, PC health monitoring and reporting, AND a license to run a premium version of Windows 7 (plus the next version when it comes out), and some other benefits (like hw/sw inventory and remote assistance which were not mentioned), with no upfront investment for any infrastructure to support, all for a little more than the price of a couple of large mocha frappucinos, or less than what they're probably paying for a single hour of non-productive employee time, and that's too expensive, really??  It would be interesting to know how someone thinks they can get all these (integrated) online services for less, or why they think not patching or using anti-malware or monitoring their PCs for issues proactively is not costing them at least that much.  And what’s up with the “In addition, the company “is trying to bill for values, like encryption management…” quote, I’ve actually read the whole Product Guide and couldn’t find encryption management listed anywhere as one of the features or value propositions, c’mon.  I think this article is pretty weak on several levels.

So what I would like to do is point out a couple of sales points you could make to your customer from my comment above…
-- remember Windows Intune actually brings a significant amount of functionality to the table (as listed above, and that was not even a complete listing) not the least of which is the license for the Enterprise version of the current version of the Windows OS --
which allows for more business functionality than even the Professional version, but hopefully you already know that. 
-- update services and anti-malware is critical and, unless you are providing the customer with managed services already, they are getting these from somewhere and there’s costs associated with deploying and maintaining even free versions of those functions.
-- monitoring and PC health reporting (again, if they don’t already have managed services or SBS) is one of those things that you don’t know what you’re missing if you’ve never had it, but it’s a huge help to keep your desktop environment going (and going, and going as the Energizer commercial says)
-- taking a page from Eric Ligman’s book, you should make the point and compare the cost to something pretty common that they spend money on every day (like a mocha) and, for sure, make the additional point that even a single hour of unproductive employee time would cost them more than $11 (potentially way more), and monitoring is one way to make sure you recognize and solve issues proactively rather than waiting for down or unproductive time to occur. 
-- just like with managed services, bundling these functionalities up is less expensive than the alternatives of buying them separately or running the risk of downtime that you would have without them and leveraging these as an online service means NO upfront $$$ or time investment in the infrastructure you would normally need to build out to provide or support these solutions (and that’s good on several levels for you, my partner, as well). 
-- and don’t forget that Windows Intune includes many of the value adds of Software Assurance, and for only $1/mo more you can even add Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (the DaRT, Diagnostic and Recovery Toolset, is just one of the tools in MDOP and it could easily save an hour in the case of recovery of an unbootable system or many other PC support scenarios.)

Bottom line, hopefully I’ve given you a few more ideas on how you can establish the business value proposition for Windows Intune for any or all of your customers who don’t already have robust PC management options, and even for your customers who might already have some, or all, of those, the inclusion of the Windows OS premium license and the SA and MDOP benefits could be a value proposition on their own, but certainly all together, I just don’t see how one could legitimately think that the price is too high even for an SMB, at least not when you really consider the alternatives.

Cheers, R