Introduction to System Center 2016 Configuration Manager
Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager ConsultantsSystem Center 2016 Configurations Manager (SCCM 2016), a key component of Microsoft's System Center 2016 suite of datacenter management tools, streamlines the process of deploying and updating applications and devices across an enterprise while integrating tightly with Microsoft's mobility and security platforms. SCCM 2016 automates software deployment at scale, simplifies compliance settings management, tracks network assets, protects against corporate data leakage, provides health monitoring, allows safe self service, and centralizes control of mixed-OS networks running on-prem, cloud-based, or hybrid deployment models. SCCM 2016 supports Windows computers, UNIX and Linux servers, Mac computers, plus iPhones, iPads, and Android smartphones.

Progent can help you build a robust and efficient site and hierarchy topology for SCCM 2016 and provide integration expertise for key technologies such as Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) for software patches and upgrades, Certificate Services, Exchange Server and Office 365 Exchange Online, Windows Group Policy, DNS, Windows Automated Deployment Kit, the User State Migration Tool, Windows Deployment Services, and Remote Desktop. Progent can help you set up SCCM to manage domain-attached devices for an on-premises deployment or integrate Configuration Manager with Microsoft Azure and Intune to support on-prem and cloud-connected devices in a hybrid ecosystem managed from a centralized management console.

Microsoft's New Current Branch Servicing Model for System Center Configuration Manager
Since the initial release of System Center 2016 Configuration, Microsoft has renamed the product as simply System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) and has announced that future releases and updates will be identified by four digits representing the year and month of their release. In Microsoft's new current branch servicing model for SCCM, new versions are expected to be available on a roughly quarterly basis and new technical previews are released monthly. Baseline versions of SCCM, such as versions 1511 and 1702, can be used to deploy new SCCM sites and hierarchies or to upgrade from a supported version of SCCM 2012. Incremental update versions, such as versions 1610 and 1706, can be used as in-console upgrades to the latest SCCM baseline version but not to install new sites or hierarchies. Incremental updates can include important new features.

SCCM Current Branch indicates the most recent baseline version of SCCM and supports the latest incremental updates. Each new version of SCCM includes the updates released for the previous version. You do not have to install each individual update prior to updating to the latest version of SCCM. Each update version remains in support for 12 months from the date of its general-availability release date. In the current branch servicing model, Microsoft provides two phases of servicing that are based on the availability of the latest baseline version of Configuration Manager. If you are running the current branch of SCCM, you receive security updates as well as critical updates. If you are running a baseline version that has been superseded by a newer baseline version, you receive only security updates and only for the balance of the one-year support lifecycle.

New Features of System Center Configuration Manager Since SCCM 2012
Microsoft releases frequent baseline and incremental updates for System Center 2016 Configuration Manager and these updates can be installed via a new in-console service method called Updates and Servicing. The new service method makes it easy to locate and install updates to SCCM, but to benefit fully from the product's fast-paced improvements requires administrators to stay current with SCCM technology. Progent can provide the services of an SCCM 2016 subject matter expert (SME) with extensive experience deploying SCCM 2016, Windows Server 2016 and SQL Server 2016 in multi-site and hybrid cloud architectures for a variety of enterprises including large legal and financial organizations. Progent can help you evaluate and deploy SCCM 2016's latest features to take advantage of enhancements in critical areas such as mobile device management (MDM) and mobile application management (MAM), Windows 10 support, software updates, compliance settings, data and site infrastructure protection, and cloud integration.

New features of SCCM 2016 include:

  • Pre-production Testing for SCCM Clients
    You can test a new version of the SCCM client prior to upgrading an entire site with the new client software. The SCCM console allows you to set up a pre-production collection for pilot testing a new client version and promoting the validated client so you can automatically upgrade the rest of the site with the new version of software.
  • Service Connection Point
    The new Service Connection Point site system role replaces the Microsoft Intune connector for integrating Intune with SCCM on-prem MDM. The Service Connection Point functions as a point of contact for managed devices, uploads usage data about your deployment to the Microsoft cloud service, and makes your deployment updates available from the Configuration Manager console.
  • Upgrading to Windows 10
    A new task sequence in the Create Task Sequence Wizard creates the steps needed to upgrade computers from Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1 to Windows 10.
  • On-premises Mobile Device Management
    On-premises MDM uses your SCCM infrastructure to manage Windows 10 mobile computers and potentially other mobile devices with operating systems that incorporate the Open Mobile Alliance Device Management (OMA DM) standard. On-premises MDM requires a Microsoft Intune subscription, but Intune is used only to track device licensing and to alert Internet-connected devices to check in for policy updates. Intune is not used for managing devices or storing their management information, which instead is kept on premises. When you deploy on-premises MDM you do not have to install or update client software on managed devices, and fewer site system roles are required. Devices that cannot be contacted by Intune depend on your specified polling interval to check in with site system roles for management functions.

    System Center Configuration Manager 2016 Consultants

    SCCM 2016 introduces on-premises mobile device management (MDM)
  • Peer Cache
    When you use SCCM to manage content deployment, Peer Cache conserves WAN bandwidth by allowing remote branch clients in the same boundary group with no local distribution point to share SCCM content with other clients directly from their local cache. Peer Cache overcomes some of the limitations of Branch Cache. Unlike Branch cache, Peer Cache works with Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE) clients, and Peer Cache clients do not have to be in the same subnet to share content with each other.
  • Concurrent Migration of Shared Distribution Points
    The Reassign Distribution Point option in SCCM 2016 allows you to reassign as many as 50 shared distribution points simultaneously rather than processing reassigned distribution points one by one.
  • Cloud Management Gateway Connector Point
    The cloud management gateway (CMG) connector point, which is set up through the Configuration Manager console, combines a new site system role and a Microsoft Azure cloud service that allows Internet-connected clients to communicate with SCCM 2016. The CMG supports the management point and software update point roles, requires no extra infrastructure, and keeps your on-prem infrastructure from being exposed to the Internet.
  • Fallback Boundary Groups
    SCCM clients unable to find content from a distribution point associated with their current boundary group can fall back to use content source locations that have a defined relationship with their boundary group. You can use the Configuration Manager console to specify how long a client must wait before searching a neighboring boundary group for content.
  • Hybrid Mobile Device Management (MDM) with SCCM and Microsoft Intune
    You are no longer required to target specific versions of Google Android and Apple iOS when you create new policies and profiles for devices managed by Intune in a hybrid deployment. You can simply specify Android, Samsung KNOX Standard 4.0 and higher, iPhone or iPad. As soon as Intune standalone supports a new version of Android or iOS, users in a hybrid environment that combines SCCM and Intune can quickly update their mobile devices without having to wait for SCCM to be updated. Hybrid deployments of SCCM and Intune also support Android for Work device enrollment and management.
  • Endpoint Protection Alerts
    SCCM 2016 can notify admins when events like malware infections or outdated anti-malware software are detected in your Configuration Manager hierarchy. Alerts appear in the Endpoint Protection dashboard in the Configuration Manager console in the Alerts node of the Monitoring workspace. You can also configure endpoint protection alerts to be emailed to selected users.
How Progent Can Help You with System Center 2016 Configuration Manager
System Center 2016 Configuration Manager addresses the fast tempo of change in modern network architecture, particularly in the areas of hybrid environments that combine on-premises resources with cloud services and the explosion of corporate and user-owned mobile devices. SCCM 2016's accelerated update cycle has added complexity to a platform that was already one of the most complex in Microsoft's arsenal of network management solutions. The careful design of SCCM deployments can save innumerable downstream headaches and ensure the fastest time to value.

Progent's Microsoft Gold-certified team of consultants include SCCM SMEs with the experience to assist organizations of all sizes to create a robust and extensible topology for Configuration Manager, migrate efficiently to SCCM 2016 from an earlier version of System Center Configuration Manager, and set up SCCM 2016 to streamline application management, device compliance, mobile device management, operating system deployment, data and infrastructure protection, and software update management. Progent offers as-needed online support to help you through any technical roadblocks you may encounter in planning or implementing a Configuration Manager deployment, or Progent can provide comprehensive project management outsourcing or co-sourcing services to help ensure your SCCM initiative is successfully completed on time and on budget.

Progent's SQL Server consultants can help you set up SQL Server 2016 or SQL Server Express as a distributed change management database and can show you how to integrate Configuration Manager with SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) to generate reports about SCCM management activities. Progent's certified Windows Server 2016 consultants can assist you to integrate Windows Server 2016 with SCCM 2016 (version 1610 or later) and can help you set up Active Directory Domain Services for your SCCM 2016 deployment. Progent's Windows 10 experts can help you keep your SCCM 2016 environment current with the latest versions of Windows 10 and show you how to benefit from the new management features continually added to the Windows 10 client operating system. Progent's Microsoft Intune consultants and Microsoft Azure experts can help you integrate SCCM 2016 with Intune to create a hybrid solution for centralized management of all your local and cloud-connected mobile devices. Progent's iPhone and iPad experts and Android specialists can help you integrate and troubleshoot smartphones managed by SCCM 2016.

Progent's certified information assurance consultants can help you design and implement a modern security and compliance strategy that incorporates the data protection enhancements in SCCM 2016. Progent also offers System Center Operations Manager consulting to help you monitor the health and performance of your hybrid network environment and proactively remediate emerging issues before they become major problems. In addition, Progent's System Center 2016 consultants can provide online and onsite expertise for other cloud-aware management tools in Microsoft's System Center product family such as Virtual Machine Manager, Data Protection Manager, Orchestrator, and Service Manager.

For more information about Progent's consulting and troubleshooting services for System Center 2016 Configuration Manager, call 1-800-993-9400 or go to Contact Progent.

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