System Center: What’s Coming

There were a lot of announcement around the System Center Suite and Windows 10 at the recent Microsoft Ignite conference. First is a new service pack for SCCM 2012 R2, which has already released. There are a host of new features included in this service pack, as well as the traditional bug fixes and updates. Second, presenters talked about System Center vNext, due out at the end of 2015.

System Center 2012 Configuration Manager R2 SP1

There are several new features in the latest SCCM service pack, mostly centered around OSD. The first is the ability to set thresholds on required deployments. The SCCM team added a new concept called high risk deployments. It labels any required task sequences being deployed to a collection of more than a set number of devices as high risk. It throws up message boxes continually warning the administrator that they are about to push a task sequence to large number of clients. This value is definable in the site settings for your system. It’s behavior is also customizable, in the sense that it can either warn you, or disable the deployment of required task sequences all together (if the collection is of certain size). Microsoft, by default, will set this value at 100 devices. The new feature also will not, under any circumstance, allow you to deploy a required task sequence to any built-in collections (collections with an ID that begins with SMS), expect for the “All Unknown Computers” collection.

Next, Microsoft will now allow you download package content to a device during a task sequence without having to execute anything from that package. This could provide administrators with a whole host of possibilities.

System Center vNext

Microsoft announced too many new features and improvements to list in blog, so I will hit on the major improvements. First, everything will be Windows 10 compatible and will be even more focused on the cloud.

SCCM will have further improvements and integration with Intune. Microsoft is furthering its Intune/SCCM compatibility in this version, bringing the two platforms closer together. This version will also be an upgrade instead of a migration (like we had with 2007 to 2012). There will also be more opportunities for add-ons into the system. Finally, there will also be a lot of MDM enhancements. A technical preview of SCCM vNext is available now.

SCOM will bring new capabilities for the cloud, with more functional management packs for Azure, Office365, and Amazon Web Services. It will also be an upgrade instead of a migration. SCOM will also have more log analytic support.

These are the main improvements in the Suite. SCSM, VMM, DPM, and Orchestrator are all getting stability and usability improvements as well. They will all integrate better with Azure, and with each other.

Nano Server

Another big announcement at Ignite was a new version of Windows Server. With Server vNext, administrators will have the option of Nano, which will provide an even smaller footprint with Server Core. In fact, Microsoft claims that the disk usage by Nano will be 93% smaller and require 92% less updates. This version will only be suitable for a few things, but it gives administrators another option for services like domain controllers.

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