User-Based Software Delivery in SCCM 2012

System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) 2012 enhances software deployment over SCCM 2007 by allowing SCCM administrators to delegate control to end users on what software gets installed on their systems or devices and when it gets installed.  Microsoft has taken into account a trend in which end-users are using devices such as cell phones in addition of desktops and notebooks.  Also, users now tend to be more technology-savvy and have expectations to be able to use the software that they need to do their jobs on any device and at any time.

SCCM 2012 introduces the concept of an Application.  Think of an application as a high-level definition of software that has intelligence to determine if the user has been authorized to use it on a particular device, how it should be made available to the user on that specific device, and if that device has the capability of running the application for the user.

Applications are made up of the following:

  • Deployment Type(s) – installer technology or way in which the software is delivered to the user
  • Requirement Rules – Properties per deployment type of users and/or devices that make delivering software appropriate and evaluated by the SCCM client in real time
  • Dependencies – other deployment types that must be present before delivery of application
  • Detection Method – Enable systems to determine if an application is already present
  • Install Command – What command to run
  • Content – Files that comprise the application

To deliver the software to the user, the SCCM administrator creates a deployment.   A deployment is what an Advertisement is in SCCM 2007.  The deployment captures the administrator’s intent by having two deployment purposes: Required and AvailableRequired compares to a mandatory assignment of an advertisement in SCCM 2007; Available compares to an optional advertisement.  The deployment also has two types of actions: Install and Uninstall.

Note: In SCCM 2012 you can still use the Packages and Programs present in SCCM 2007 but you won’t have access to the intelligence built into Applications.

For applications that are not forced on the user devices –those with a deployment purpose of Available, SCCM 2012 offers a user-friendly web portal called Application Catalog, where the user can browse and install applications that are available to her (optionally the application may require approval from an administrator first).  If the Available deployment purpose targets a device instead of a user, then the application can be installed from Software Center, which is a local application on the client that replaces “Run Advertised Programs” present in the SCCM 2007 client.

One of the key features that Microsoft provides to make User Centric Software Distribution possible is User Device Affinity (UAC).  UAC provides the ability to identify a relationship between a user and a device.  This allows complex software deployment scenarios such as where an application should be installed only on a user’s primary device but still make the application available to the user on other devices via other deployment types.

An example of a complex software deployment –but simple to configure for the SCCM administrator, is when the user is using her primary device and wants to use Word 2010.  If not installed, the user can go to the Application Catalog and install it locally on the primary device (i.e. a desktop in the corporate network).  The following week the user logs-in to someone else’s desktop in the corporate network and needs to use Word 2010 but it isn’t installed.  The user then goes to Application Catalog and selects to install the software.  However, because of the intelligence built into the Application by the SCCM administrator, Word 2010 is delivered to the user via App-V.  The user then uses her Windows Phone and wants to use Word.  The user goes to the Application Catalog to install it, and Word Mobile is delivered to her phone using the Windows Mobile Cabinet deployment type.

User Device Affinity supports the following relationships in SCCM 2012

  • Single primary user to primary device
  • Multiple primary devices per user
  • Multiple primary users per device

Note: SCCM 2012 allows these relationships to be defined by the SCCM administrator and by the end user.

In conclusion, SCCM 2012 has made it easy for the SCCM administrator to empower users to use the software they need to perform their job at any time and on any supported device.

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