System Center Configuration Manager as a Service

In the last year I have seen and heard many rumours about System Center Configuration Manager:

  • Configuration Manager 2016 is the last version of the product
  • SCCM is end of life, Microsoft is not investing anymore in it
  • Intune will replace Configuration Manager

I am sorry to dissapoint the people making these statements. System Center Configuration Manager is alive and kicking. Check this blog post from Brad Anderson, Corporate Vice President of the Enterprise Client & Mobility at Microsoft.

Gartner has recognized Microsoft as a Leader for the eleventh consecutive year,  in the 2015 Magic Quadrant for Client Management Tools (previously called Magic Quadrant for PC Configuration Life Cycle Management) with Configuration Manager (and previously SMS).
Funny enough, Gartner retired this magic quadrant for 2016. Probably Configuration Manager would have been the leader for the twelfth time.

In my opinion the above rumours are based on misunderstandings of the way Configuration Manager has evolved from a traditional on-premise product with a 3-year engineering cycle to the Software as a Service model.

Configuration Manager Current Branch
Back in 2015 the Configuration Manager team made the decision to adopt the Current Branch model, also used by the Windows team.
One year later, there have been 4 CB releases in the last 12 months – 1511, 1602, 1606, and 1610. So, actually System Center Configuration Manager 2016 is Configuration Manager Current Branch release 1606.
Microsoft is moving away from the versioning based on years, because there will be more versions per year.
This model is aligning with the Windows 10 Curent Branch model.
Besides the baseline releases there are also Technical Preview releases. They are intended for early validation in a lab environment, and allow you to validate new features before they are available on current branch. These should not be deployed in production (unless you are a TAP customer and you have  a support agreement with Microsoft).
So definitely Microsoft is investing in the development of Configuration Manager, by moving to a SaaS model.

In case you missed it, Update 1610 for System Center Configuration Manager was released on Friday.

Intune will not replace Configuration Manager
Microsoft Intune is a cloud-based Mobile Device Manageent (MDM) solution part of the Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS). It has a different feature set and is targeted as managing mobile devices: Android, iOS, Windows Phone and Windows 10 managed as a mobile device using OMA-DM protocol.If you are interested on OMA-DM protocol support check this page on MSDN.

If you want to manage both on-premise desktops (with Windows Vista and above) and  mobile solutions, you can use both Configuration Manager and Intune/EMS in hybrid mode.

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