For many organizations – 54% according to our recent web survey – 2016 is the year they will migrate to Windows 10. We talked to Configuration Manager MVP and Microsoft Certified Trainer Kent Agerlund who will be appearing in our Preparing for the Future of SCCM webinar on Jan 21st, about why upgrading to ConfigMgr 1511 should be an essential part of any Windows 10 migration project.

So, Kent, given that 83.5% of companies in our recent web survey are already using SCCM 2012, which supports Windows 10, what’s the urgency about ConfigMgr 1511?

It’s all about whether you want an enterprise client manager that merely supports the OS or one that allows you to get the most out of it. As you say, right now, most companies are still using SCCM 2012, or in some cases 2007. Now, while both of these technically can manage Windows 10, in order for you to reach the full potential of Windows 10, you need to migrate to Configuration Manager 1511. For example, ConfigMgr 1511 provides access to Windows 10 servicing as well as some of the new enterprise data protection features.

That’s interesting, especially since our recent survey, 56% of companies cited security as one of the most important reasons for adopting Windows 10. But won’t adding a ConfigMgr upgrade to the mix complicate things?

Getting to Configuration Manager 1511 is not that difficult, especially since a lot of companies are already running ConfigMgr 2012 which runs on a Windows Server 2012 operating system. So the platform change involved is simply an in-place upgrade – you can be ready to rock and roll within a couple of hours.

When is the best time for an upgrade to version 1511 to take place?

Ah, the big question! Companies typically wait for Service Pack 1 to emerge before they take the plunge, which is often half a year to a year. The difference here, is that there won’t be any Service Pack 1 or Service Pack 2 here. ConfigMgr is moving into a servicing model just like we see in Windows 10. So my strong recommend is to start planning now. Get to version 1511 during Q1 of 2016 especially if you are already working with Windows 10 or are planning for a Windows 10 project in 2016.

When migrating to the new ConfigMgr, is it worth redesigning at the same time?

Absolutely. Planning your migration from Configuration Manager 2007 and 2012 into ConfigMgr 1511 is a great time to reassess your design. Ask yourself: do you really need that CAS (Central Administration Site) and those two primary site servers? Do you really need those 255 distribution points out there? Is that really beneficial to you? Or do you want to spend more time working with the stuff that really matters rather than constantly troubleshooting content replication and synchronization?

Personally, I say keep it as simple as possible — as few side systems as possible. Of course, you want to stay in supported mode (I would never recommend a single primary site if you have 300,000 devices out there), but we can still remove a lot of the administrative overhead by being smart when we’re doing our design.