Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2012 has blossomed into a fairly amazing product and I’ve spent my week in Microsoft Official training for how to administer the product. As the week wore on, I can’t help but think that this product looks an amazing amount like the cloud automation products I have seen that cater to the server-side of cloud computing. The product is used to deploy Windows OS installations, software and application distribution and then ultimately maintenance and remote support for the deployed clients.
Although Microsoft sells pricey server CALs for SCCM 2012, much of feature set is all about deploying client software and that’s really its sweet spot. SCCM 2012 really helps a company to put structure around the software applications it installs and supports on client PCs. As with cloud computing, it helps to establish a software catalog for the client machines (and for servers, though I see it as less useful there in its present implementation).
In addition to deploying down the software, there is a lot of though on how to maintain and patch the software once it’s deployed. With strong integration to WSUS, it can create groups and structure around deploying and reporting on the Windows Updates which have or have not been deployed, something WSUS does poorly today.
Starting life as System Management Server back in the early 90’s, the product has grown in complexity and features in the last two iterations. And with that growth, SCCM 2007 had grown to a beast with an unorganized management console. 2012 seeks to rethink that with a newly created management console and it finally sees the death of the MMC for the product.
Not only has the management console been rethought, but the application management has also been rethought and the age-old “packages” that have traditionally deployed software has been joined with a new “Applications” method for deploying products, including a client software to receive and let users choose what software they need to deploy from a menu or for software requiring approval, it automates the request and approval process. And, the Applications framework finally gives a well-though way to uninstall applications, where packages traditionally had not.
But application delivery is not the only capabilities of this product – it includes so much more – including inventory and asset management features and reporting, compliance and setting management, mobile device management and security (aka endpoint protection) management.