SCCM 2012 SP1: The significant features

Kent Agerlund recently blogged about features that will be seen in the SP1 release of SCCM 2012. To read Kent’s blog, visit http://blog.coretech.dk/kea/configmgr-2012-sp1-announced-teched-2012/.

From the list of features, the 2 that standout from my perspective are:

  1. Support for Metro style applications, and
  2. Ability to add a CAS to an existing stand-alone primary site.

I picked those 2 out of the list because the major reason why enterprises have been including the CAS in their existing SCCM 2012 infrastructure is because of the lack of support from Microsoft / inability to upgrade a stand-alone primary site to include a CAS, thereby curtailing the ability to increase your client size beyond 100,000. Although, the 100,000 client size per primary site is the published figure from Microsoft, we all know that you can go above this magic number. Furthermore the lack of support for Metro style applications could have killed any little interest that enterprises might have had in Metro style applications for Windows 8.

For those reasons those 2 features standout for me.

The potential pitfalls of user centric management in SCCM 2012

Reading through the release notes for SCCM2012 you cannot miss the pervading phrase “user centric”. In fact, the phrase is used as one of the key reasons why you should migrate to the product. Note that I do agree that there are other tremendous benefits and a justifiable business case for SCCM 2012. However, the purpose of this article is to discuss if indeed the application management feature is all you need in an enterprise in order to actualise your dream of user centric application deployment.

Pitfall 1:Deployment Types
You will come across various publications with the line of thinking that goes thus “Deploying MSIs to the primary device and perhaps streaming App-V when user logs on to any other device etc.”

The question you need to ask here is “Are you ready to create multiple packages for the same application?”. Most organisations create packages in only one format i.e. MSI or App-V, not in both formats and do you have the resources to create and maintain applications in more than one format?

There are also publications that talk about publishing a “Remote Desktop Session” to users when the log on to their non-primary devices, but again you need to ask yourself if this is something you do now,  or intend to do in the future.

Pitfall 2:User Targeted Deployment
Yes, application deployment in CM2012 is far better at targeting users than previous versions / incarnations of CM, but the previous versions also had this capability. The only downside in the previous versions was that application deployment to users was initiated whenever users logged on to any machine, which was indeed a very painful experience, a problem that has been eradicated with the user device affinity feature in SCCM 2012.

However, if your organisation creates application packages in only one format and it is an MSI, will you go ahead with allowing applications to follow users? I presume your answer is a “No”.

Pitfall 3:User Experience
In organisations where application packages are created and available in multiple formats e.g. MSIs and App-V, SCCM 2012 could be a dream come true. However, before you shout for joy, do you have a plan on how you intend to manage and ensure the portability of customisations made by users to applications?

A classic example will be Adobe Reader deployed to my primary device using an MSI but delivered to another device I have logged on to as an App-V package? Do you have plans in place to ensure that the customisations I have applied to Adobe Reader on my primary device are also available to the instance delivered via App-V?

Having a user centric application management requires a holistic approach and SCCM 2012 alone is not the solution. Overall, SCCM2012 is an excellent product but the next time someone comes to you touting these user centric features, sit back and present these pitfalls to them.

System Centre 2012: Ready to go

SCCM2012 and all other products in the System Centre suite have now been released. Refer to http://myitforum.com/myitforumwp/2012/04/02/microsoft-dusts-off-the-system-center-2012-rc-and-beta-tags/.

Do not forget to download accompanying documentation for SCCM2012 from http://myitforum.com/myitforumwp/groups/system-center-configuration-manager-2012/documents/

Auto-remediation of client problems in SCCM 2012 can lead to increased customer satisfaction

The client evaluation engine which is installed with the Configuration Manager 2012 client, is one of the many reasons you should not hold back from upgrading to SCCM 2012 when the product is finally released. This engine can perform the following functions:

  • Verification and remediation of client installation failure.
  • Verification and remediation of client installation prerequisites.
  • Verification and remediation of Windows Management Instrumentation.
  • Verification and remediation of the operation and startup type for typical Windows services that are required by the Configuration Manager client.

Those 4 functions can reduce significantly the hours spent troubleshooting failed application deployments by your “Service Desk”, thereby increasing client satisfaction. So what are you waiting for? Get on the upgrade path.

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