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What to expect from Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 1511

Last week saw the much anticipated release of Microsoft's latest version of System Center Configuration Manager. Now termed as Current Branch, this new release is version 1511, removing the traditional 2007/2012 versioning in the product name to allow a more fluid transformation to Configuration Manager as a service. 

One of the Microsoft’s major focal points was to bring the release cycle in line with the faster paced Windows releases, and with other technologies, such as Microsoft Intune. This will enable closer feature release parity across these solutions.

What does this release mean for System Center Configuration Manager? For starters it brings Configuration Manager into Microsoft's Cloud-connected solution realm – "SaaSifying” the product as it were.

Buzzwords aside, what does version 1511 give us?

Since the release of Windows 10 (as a service), Configuration Manager needed to change to provide the support required to deploy and manage the faster paced release cycles the new OS brings to the table. Operating System Deployment (OSD) is a big winner here with new in-built task sequences, allowing for automation of upgrades from Windows 7 and Windows 8.x to Windows 10.

There is a new node where administrators can view, at a glance, the state of Windows as a Service within their environment, which is great for when you have different devices running on different branch types (think of Admin staff running the Current Branch (CB), but factory machinery running on the Long Service Branch).

Additionally, deployment rings are created and managed via this node, which will also provide alerts when clients are nearing the end of the CB etc.

Better interoperability between Configuration Manager and Microsoft Intune is also a key improvement with this release. Version 1511 brings, for the first time, (nearly) everything built into Microsoft Intune for Enterprise Mobility Management, to Configuration Manager. This is a significant milestone. And with the release cadences now aligned, feature releases across both solutions will benefit administrators and end users who are demanding more from IT. 

At a glance, some additional new features include:

  • Improved Application deployment/management
  • Improved management for Apple, UNIX/Linux systems
  • Improved Software Update management
  • Improved Client health and monitoring
  • Unified End-user portal
  • On-premises Mobile Device Management

If you take nothing else away from this blog, there is one key factor that impacts the future support of Windows 10 via Configuration Manager: pre-version 1511 Configuration Manager solutions will only be able to manage Windows 10 CB support until the February 2016 Windows release. Scary?

If you have Configuration Manager 2012, in any of its variants, and you would like to discuss a strategy to effective management of Windows 10; or if you have any other questions, please get in touch with us.

Posted by: Jeff Tebbs, Senior Infrastructure Consultant | 15 December 2015

Tags: SaaS, Systems Management, Configuration Manager, System Center, Windows 10

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