SIM352: Systems Center Configuration Manager 2012 Technical Overview

Batting 100% today for killer sessions. This session was on SCCM 2012, which like VMM 2012, has undergone radical changes for the better. The speaker went over several demos and there was a ton of content, so I didn’t catch everything. Plus, honestly, I’ve never been a big SCCM guy because it was such a complicated beast, hard to manage, and typically has lots of glitches. If you are a current SCCM user, or haven’t used SCCM because of the reasons I just mentioned, take a hard look at SCCM 2012. Both under the covers and visually it’s a radically different product designed to address these pain points, and address the era of desktop virtualization and mobile device computing.

Enhancements include:

  1. Applications can now be targeted at users and delivered to users in different ways depending on the device they are on at the moment. You can configure multiple deployment options for the same software package (say Office 2010), so it can be automatically delivered via App-V, MSI installation, XenApp, or RDS, depending on the rules you configure. In essence you have roaming applications.
  2. Fine grained administrative delegation, and if you can’t access a particular object, it’s hidden. Only a desktop administrator? You can’t even see servers, server only packages, or deploy software to servers. No more accidentally having your desktop guys deploy Adobe Reader to your servers on accident.
  3. All replication (packages, etc.) is now done via SQL replication. No more proprietary SMS/SCCM replication engine that always seemed to have problems. Big win!!
  4. Agents can now auto repair themselves, and even re-install on their own. It can repair WMI, bits, and other components that commonly break and require manual fixing on clients. Huge!
  5. You now deploy applications to a collection, and the client determines the deployment type (App-V, MSI install, etc.).
  6. Web based app store that presents to the user the list of all applications they are authorized to use. You can also do a basic approval workflow (but no email notification, or routing of requests to a supervisor). Only routes requests to a SCCM admin.
  7. Aware of pooled VDI desktops, such as XenDesktop, and each client maintains uniqueness in the SCCM console between reboots (when the VM is reset to a virgin state). Major feature for XenDesktop shops.
  8. DCM (desired configuration manager) can now SET/remediate settings, not just monitor compliance. So you can enforce compliance for key security settings on clients. Console can alert you when a threshold of non-compliance is crossed.
  9. Completely redesigned GUI with a ribbon interface. No more MMC or actions pane.
  10. Global search within the GUI.
  11. 13 built-in RBAC roles, which you can copy, modify, or create your own.
  12. Clients can now host distribution points.
  13. Radically simplified topology that will reduce the need for additional sites.
  14. “Light” and “Depth” management of phone devices, depending on the phone’s operating system. iOS, Android, and Windows Phone 7 are all “light” at this time.

There was a lot more covered, but there’s no way I can cover it all. In short, SCCM 2012 is a huge upgrade, easier to manage, and has a good migration story from previous versions. It’s currently in beta 2 and on track to be released by the end of the calendar year. I’m really excited about this release, as it looks like the first version to me that has addressed many of the long standing issues with SMS/SCCM and is forward leaning into VDI management.

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