Friday, February 15, 2013

SCCM - What’s New in SCCM 2012

The new edition to the System Center Configuration Manager Legacy is System Center 2012 Configuration Manager (SCCM 2012). There have been quite a few improvements over its predecessor, System Center Configuration Manager 2007 (SCCM 2007). These improvements stretch from the big picture improvements in hierarchy to the more granular improvements in custom client settings. This product has made many leaps and bounds from its SMS days. Here are some of the big picture changes that were made.

MOF changes
No more sms_def.mof to extend hardware inventory. It is as simple as just checking a box now for what hardware inventory you are looking for, but testing is very necessary still to make sure you are getting specifically what you want. Ability to export and import inventory setting is now possible.

Management Point (MP) Enhancement
More than 1 MP per site to extend the number of clients each site can handle and help with redundancy. Clients will choose which one they want based off of capability and proximity.

Distribution Point (DP) Improvements
  • There is only 1 kind of DP now and can be installed on workstation or server, eliminating branch DPs
  • DP Groups makes it easy to deploy software by taking away the need to target multiple DPs per package
  • Tools built-in to manage pre-staged content to help with not saturating the WAN Link
  • Same throttling as with what Secondary Site servers which almost completely removes the need for Secondary Site servers and scheduling is now available.
  • PXE Role integrated with DP since they go hand in hand anyway
  • Content validation can be scheduled to let you know when the hash fails and the content goes out of sync; helping warn you before you begin getting content mismatch errors
Addition of Software Center
This new tool improves end user experience by giving them limited ability to manage settings for interacting with SCCM, empowering them with self-service. With the end user having the ability to setup “business hours”, this will help with reducing the downtime associated with updates, software distribution, and OSD since the end user decides when they want it done. This replaced the run advertised programs in SCCM 2007.

The big picture changes are going to make a very big impact Site/Hierarchy wide. The granular changes being made on a client and feature level will surely make life easier on admins. Here are some of the more critical changes made with SCCM 2012.

Role Based Administration
Permissions can now go across sites and be made granular with security scopes. This is a much needed improvement since it was really difficult with previous versions to separate permissions properly.

Centrally managed client settings
Once a change is made to client settings than they are made hierarchy wide with the default settings or you can be granular and mix in some custom client settings for specific collections. Remember, the custom client settings take precedence over the default settings.

Application Distribution vs. Package Distribution
Packages contain source files that are run off of command line through programs. Applications now have a dependency intelligence that is built into the agent which will
  • Remove processing burden from the site server
  • Speed up deployment because there is no evaluation required by query to determine if a computer goes in or out of a collection
  • Writing requirements into the installer package is removed because of logic provided through criteria
  • Manage superseded apps and app uninstalls
Software Updates Improvements
  • Auto cleanup of expired content
  • Helps with auto-approval of certain updates
  • Allows deployment of Superseded updates
  • Better criteria and exclusions are now possible (criteria can be saved and reused)
  • Automatic deployment rules allowing complete automation of the update process
  • Software center allows the user to set business hours so that productivity is not affected and grouping of deadlines together for pending updates so there are fewer reboots, improving end user experience

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