Today we announced Service Packs for SCCM 2012 and SCCM 2012 R2. There’s been a lot of interest in these service packs, and I want to provide a little insight into the strategy behind them.
Looking at the big picture, there were two primary focuses with these service packs.
- Windows 10 compatibility/readiness.
- Updating SCCM + Intune hybrid deployments to bring them inline with Intune’s cloud-only EMM capabilities.
Here’s a bit more context on both these points:
Windows 10 Compatibility and Readiness
To start, we have done the best job ever preparing SCCM to support a new Windows release. This goes all the way back to the earliest planning meetings that took place when we began working on the Windows 10 project.
This is just another great example (among many others) of the ways we are doing better than ever before with common and unified planning across the company.
As we defined the end-to-end scenarios that would be delivered in Windows 10, we kept in mind the all-up Microsoft view of how all these efforts would be coordinated and aligned in a deeper manner than ever before. I can make that statement with some level of authority since I have led the SMS/SCCM teams for 12 years and have worked with many releases of Windows :). This is the best and most integrated planning and coordination we have ever done.
You’ll see the fruits of this in the end-to-end scenarios that are much more integrated and complete than ever before.
With these new Service Packs we have addressed many compatibility issues that have popped up during our testing of Windows 10 with SCCM. Throughout the testing process we only found a small handful of issues – this really emphasized to me the degree to which Windows 10 is far more compatible than any previous release of Windows. This is great news for everyone.
Our biggest goal with these Service Packs was to ensure you could deploy and manage Windows 10 with the SCCM you have in place today – aka there is no requirement to upgrade to a new version of SCCM in order to deploy Windows 10.
In other words, with SCCM 2012 and SCCM 2012 R2 you will be able to deploy and manage Windows 10.
Last week at Ignite we also announced SCCM vNext. In vNext we will light up and expose all the new capabilities coming in Windows 10 (more on this in the next section).
The level of interest and excitement around Windows 10 at Ignite – and broadly throughout the industry – is strong. You will be able to deploy Windows 10 as quickly as you want using SCCM 2012 and SCCM 2012 R2.
Updating SCCM more rapidly to integrate with Intune EMM Capabilities
One of the key trends we are seeing emerge right now is the convergence of the PC management and mobile device management roles and responsibilities in organizations.
While I was at Ignite, I had the opportunity to spend an hour in 1:1 meetings with 15 different organizations. Meetings like this provide an incredible opportunity to learn, stay grounded, and keep connected with customers. When I go into these meetings I always have a list of questions I want to ask as I try to identify trends and common needs, as well as ways to help their business. One of the questions I had last week was about the roles and responsibilities for PC management and mobile device management. Over the course of these meetings, 14 of the 15 companies said they had already combined these two roles or were in the process of making that combination. The primary goal of combining the roles is to deliver a consistent experience for users across all devices (PC’s and mobile devices) and provide a common solution for IT to enable users across those devices.
In the past, I’ve written about our world view that this convergence would occur – and we are seeing it accelerate today. With this world view in mind, we started building a connection between SCCM and Intune almost two years ago. Our vision here was to quickly and easily update the SCCM console as we added new features and capabilities to Intune. This concept is something we call “Weave” internally since we’re weaving in new capabilities from Intune into SCCM.
While we have had the infrastructure to connect SCCM to Intune, there have been a handful of technical challenges we have run encountered. These include: How do you update the SCCM database schema if that is required to weave down new capabilities? The result of these challenges is that we have not been able to quickly weave everything down to SCCM. Enhancing our weave capabilities was a huge priority for these Service Packs and it is a big focus for the coming version of SCCM that is now in technical preview for managing Windows 10 (SP1 is here, and you can get SP2 here).
As Microsoft has begun sharing the details and vision of Windows 10 – as well as looking at how Windows 10 will be delivered as a service – and focusing on how we will be constantly delivering new value to it. While reading all the Windows 10 coverage, it may have occurred to you that SCCM is going to need to follow suit, so that as Windows 10 gets new capabilities SCCM is also updated to light-up and manage those new capabilities. We have always updated SCCM frequently via cumulative updates, and now we will increase that cadence further as SCCM effectively becomes more and more cloud connected. We will also release new SCCM capabilities several times a year.
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With these Service Packs we really have brought the hybrid SCCM + Intune capabilities up to the Intune + cloud-only in just about every area. These Service Packs also significantly increase our ability to quickly weave more down to SCCM as we update Intune each month without requiring a Service Pack. This is a huge value add for SCCM users. Huge!
As we continue to develop and improve all of this, you will be able to use the SCCM console that all of you know so well for enabling users on all of their devices. This is a very unique set of capabilities for your end-user enablement needs. No other vendor on the market has this integrated solution with the rich PC management capabilities of SCCM and the rich mobile device management capabilities of Intune – all integrated into one place.
Over two years ago we saw this unification of roles developing, and we began working on the infrastructure changes you would need to enable this. It is awesome to see how SCCM and Intune are being used together – and to see how you SCCM users are making a big impact on your organization!