SCCM is great … but is it holding you back?

That’s a pretty tricky title to get right. I wanted to find something that didn’t disrespect Systems Center Configuration (SCCM) – after all, it is the de facto standard for systems management in the Windows world and it does a great job. It’s used by a phenomenal number of companies around the world. At the recent Microsoft Ignite conference, various statistics were published, including:

  • More than 80,000 companies worldwide depend on SCCM
  • There are over 150 million devices being managed with SCCM
  • 5 million new devices are being added every week

So, clearly, SCCM must be doing something right.

At the same time, though, there are some things that could be improved. That’s where 1E comes in. For nearly 20 years now, 1E has been enhancing and extending SCCM to better serve its users, especially in highly complex and distributed environments.

A recent 1E webinar, now available to watch on demand, discussed these challenges and the benefits of using 1E software, especially Nomad alongside SCCM. It was a pretty timely session as many organizations are just starting, or at least planning, one of their largest systems management projects: rolling out Windows 10.

Just rolling out a major OS update is a challenge in itself but with the new servicing model for both SCCM and Windows 10, the complexity is increased.

In case you missed it, Windows 10 is now on a path where there will be two “Feature Updates” per year that deliver new features (effectively an OS upgrade) in addition to the monthly cumulative “Quality Updates”. What may not be quite so clear is that Configuration Manager releases are closely aligned with (and in some cases required to deploy and manage) the Windows 10 Feature Updates. The upshot of which is that you need to keep refreshing all your SCCM servers and distribution points as well as rolling out those Windows 10 updates to your end points.

As Microsoft move old releases of both SCCM and Windows 10 out of support more quickly than ever before, a plan to deploy one version and keep it for 2 or 3 years just isn’t an option any longer. Redmond Magazine recently published a good overview of the subject.

One thing is clear, this could keep IT organizations very busy. In a typical SCCM environment, especially if it has thousands of end points and/or hundreds of locations, they will have many SCCM servers, especially in remote offices, to keep up to date. That’s a lot of admin effort.

Dave Fuller, a Windows 10 expert at 1E, discussed these various challenges and how Nomad can help. For example, the peer-to-peer capabilities in Nomad can completely remove the need for those remote SCCM servers. SCCM itself has delivered some peer-to-peer capabilities but these are still somewhat restricted and Dave discussed the various capabilities of each model.

There were other topics covered, for example how to automate the conversion of systems from BIOS to UEFI so that the great new security features in Windows 10 can be exploited, and a review of various real world examples where SCCM has been enhanced by 1E.

At the core though, SCCM still provides great systems management capabilities. With 1E’s enhancements and some forethought, the continuing challenges of managing SCCM and Windows 10 updates can be automated and IT admins can get on with delivering business value.

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Mark Warren
Mark Warren is Product Marketing Manager for Windows 10 Now at 1E. Mark has over 25 years’ experience of software development and configuration management as a vendor and customer.