Configuration Manager 2012 Overview

This is a summary of the session  MGT203 – System Center Configuration Manager 2012 Overview presented by Jeff Wettlaufer. The session will be available online, so if you are interested you can check back later the recording on

Jeff started of course with User-Centric Management, the biggest change in the next version of Confiiguration Manager. This feature will allow administrators to think user first. Instead of deploying applications to computers, the administrators will create a set of rules and define dependencies for the applications. These rules will get evaluated at deploy time and checked versus the actual conditions and configuration of the computer. Based on these rules, one Deployment  Type will get selected (MSI, virtual application, Remote Desktop or CAB file for mobile devices). As an example, if the system is tha primary user’s computer, and it satisfy the prerequisites (CPU, memory, free space), it will install the MSI based package, otherwise it can be deployed as a virtual application.

Users will be able to define their own preferences by visiting the Self-Service Portal, a new feature that will be included in Beta2, and sepcify their devices, working hours, and even request and install applications from a Software Catalog. On the desktop, the users will have Software Center, an improved version of the Advertised Programs, where they can see the application status and initiate the installation.

One cool new feature that was introduced in the latest builds is the ability to view application dependencies in a graphical format, including prerequisites and rules, so the administrators can have a quick view of the settings defined for each application. 

The administrative permissions will be defined using roles (Role-Based Administration), and based on the permissions that are defined for each role, the administrators will only see the sections and tasks in the console that they are allowed to access. This can be done grace to the new console (the same used in Operations Manager and Service Manager). No more MMC.

Important steps were made into simplifying the hierarchy of Configuration Manager. In the past, multiple Primary Sites were used to optimize the deployment traffic and impose security boundaries for accessing the date. Grace to the investments made into Role-Based Administration and SQL Replication, Primary Sites are needed for scale-out only. Data can be segmented using RBA, and distribution traffic can be controlled by adding Distribution Points and Secondary Sites.

Improvements were made in Client Health, to monitor and remediate clients, checking for prerequisites and dependent services, reinstall of the clients and in-console alerts for unhealthy clients.

The features previously available in Mobile device Manager (except VPN functionality) were incorporated in Configuration Manager 2012, allowing a seamless experience into managing mobile devicxes, including hardware and software inventory, application deployment, appplying configuration policies, monitoring and remediating non-compliant devices. One new feature is support for application deployment for Nokia (Symbian) devices using SIS/JAR packages. For devices that are not directly supported using a Configuration Manager client, there is a connector with Microsoft Exchange that will allow the management of these devices through Exchange.

The Software Updates feature will support Auto deployment Rules which will allow that updates that meet specified criterias will be deployed automatically.

For the Operating System Deployment, the biggest improvements are in the offline servicing of the OS images and using hierarchy-wide boot media (no longer tied to a specific site).

Desired Configuration Management feature was renamed Settings Management and includs now the ability to remediate the settings that are out-of compliance.

Remote Control is back, including the ability to send Ctrl-Alt-Del to host device, as it used to be in SMS 2003. However this feature is using a new security model form Windows Vista/7.

Overall a very solid session and too little time to cover all the new features. Hope will be able to see some more, in the nexte presentations that are scheduled this week.

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