What is Microsoft SCCM? Benefits And Challenges Of SCCM Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) is an endpoint management solution for Microsoft devices, applications, and servers, which is now known as the Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager and bundled into the Endpoint Manager suite. This article explains how SCCM works, its benefits, and its challenges.
What is Microsoft SCCM?
Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) is an endpoint management solution for Microsoft devices, applications, and servers, which is now known as the Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager and bundled into the Endpoint Manager suite.
System Center Configuration Manager (abbreviated as SCCM) is a product from Microsoft Windows that makes it easier to manage, deploy, and protect applications and devices in an organization. Administrators typically use SCCM for endpoint protection, patching, and distributing software in bulk, among other possible use cases. SCCM was part of the Microsoft Systems Center product suite but is now part of Endpoint Manager.
System Center Configuration Manager or SCCM is reliant on single infrastructure to unify physical machines and virtual machines. It also provides tools to aid IT administrators in terms of access control.
To achieve this, it discovers desktops, servers, and mobile devices linked to a network through Microsoft Active Directory (AD) and installs the requisite apps on each client. It then orchestrates application updates and deployments for individuals or groups. This allows Network Access Protection for policy enforcement and Windows Server Update Services for automatic patching.
Microsoft’s SCCM also acts as a system manager that allows supervisors to regulate the security and deployment of applications and devices throughout the company.
SCCM can sometimes be mistaken for Microsoft System Center Operations Manager (SCOM). SCOM is a platform used to monitor systems’ health and performance. The significant difference between SCOM and SCCM is that SCCM is used for the management of configurations, while SCO is used in monitoring applications and services. With SCCM, one could distribute updates to devices that are Windows 10 or Windows 11-compatible throughout your entire network. It offers an efficient means of provisioning and updating many devices at once, and so, therefore, it is a staple for enterprises.
SCCM’s integrated console simplifies how you manage Microsoft apps such as Microsoft Forefront, Application Virtualization (App-V), Windows Phone applications, etc. As a result, all these can be controlled from one location.
Important SCCM architectural components
There are four crucial components of the SCCM architecture (which is more of a hierarchy): the central administration site, followed by the primary site, the secondary site, and then the distribution point. Let’s discuss these components in detail:
- Central administration site: In a large organization setting, the central administration site is at the highest point of the hierarchy. It is the point from which primary sites are controlled or managed. One CAS can handle more than 25 primary sites at once, but it’s only used by organizations with a hierarchy of more than 100,000 clients. Remember that the CAS is only used for administration and reporting purposes.
- Primary site: This is the next level on the hierarchy and supports the secondary sites below. These sites do not support themselves. One primary site can support a hierarchy of over 250 secondary sites and 100,000 clients.
- Secondary sites: These sites are the next level of the hierarchy, and the primary sites manage them. These sites have their SQL servers and work as intermediaries between the clients and the primary sites. One secondary server supports a hierarchy of 5,000 other components and deploys clients.
- Distribution point: Distribution points deliver content to the client’s systems. Distribution points are of two types: local and remote. Also, note that primary and secondary sites are distribution points by default.
The evolution of SCCM
Microsoft SCCM was initially developed in 1994 as Systems Management Server v1.0. The initial purpose behind the development of this program was to make it easier to manage Microsoft-native applications like MS-DOS, Windows NT, etc., on Windows NT Server, NetWare, LAN Manager, and other networks.
However, as Windows 95 was created, Microsoft updated the program to version 1.1 in 1995 to help customers easily migrate to Windows 95. The 1996 version was introduced with better features like remote control, Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), networking-monitoring capabilities, and inventory.
The version 2.0 series started in 1990 to aid Y2K remediation efforts. However, the 2003 version improved stability, reliability, and software distribution capabilities. However, the company changed the program’s name to Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) in 2007.
The 2007 version was introduced to support Windows Vista and Windows server 2008, and the name was changed to solve the confusion with SMS (Short Messaging Services). The company made other modifications in 2012 and 2015, but the primary and most referenced version of SCCM is the 2016 version. It offers benefits like improved integration with the Windows Store for Business, supporting online and offline-licensed apps, and more.
Although there were other versions after the 2016 release, only the 2019 version or Version 1906 SCCM is part of the Microsoft Endpoint Manager. As an upgrade to the 2019 version, a 2022 version of SCCM has been released, which is no longer available as a standalone solution but is bundled into the Microsoft Endpoint Manager solution.
Benefits And Challenges Of SCCM
If you need a solution that will help in configuring and managing systems in an enterprise network environment, using SCCM will be a good idea. This is because SCCM provides a single tool to deploy installations to many devices, which streamlines the network hardware management process. However, there are also a few challenges to using Microsoft SCCM. First, let us consider its benefits:
Thanks to an inbuilt Windows update engine, SCCM helps regulate anti-malware definitions. It also allows you to keep the user’s PC updated while ensuring that they are safeguarded all the time with the latest protection version.
Boosts user productivity
By safeguarding endpoints, SCCM offers the opportunity for employees to stay productive, resulting from the Configuration Manager and the secure access it provides. It also helps to protect sensitive data, and it does that by providing the required tools to administrators.
Unlocks insights on assets
The administrator in charge of licensing can use asset intelligence to track the programs that have been installed, and he will also know where it was installed. They can also follow the number of applications and also the number of installations too. Across the environment and with the help of software metering, one can track licenses, thereby assuring that the counts are precise in the audit server.
Provides a single tool
SCCM is beneficial because it helps in providing one with single tools to deploy installation to multiple devices, which streamlines the hardware management processes. It can be very cumbersome to manage devices individually daily on every single device – but with the help of SCCM, overseeing the updates and configuration of devices from a top-down viewpoint saves you a lot of time.
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