Software Update Management in ConfigMgr 2007

Like many other features in Configuration Manager 2007, software update management has been dramatically revamped. Configuration Manager separates the way that updates and regular packages are pushed to a managed agent by creating a new
state-based high-priority channel for all software updates and desired configuration management information. No longer will pushing another software package interfere with pushing software updates or receiving patch status from managed workstations, laptops, or servers.

The state-based method for software update management also means that patch and update status is no longer tied to hardware inventory scans and, as a result, the current Inventory Tool for Microsoft Updates (ITMU) and scan catalog will no longer be needed. Instead, Configuration Manager uses the new Software Update Point (SUP) server role running Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) on the back end as its software update engine and database.

WSUS enables you to have one central location for all update management in Configuration Manager. This gives you the ability to download all content available on Microsoft Update including non-critical updates, drivers, and other software packages for the Microsoft platform. In addition, Microsoft is also encouraging its partners to release software updates via this method. Adobe and Citrix are just two of the companies that are currently publishing manifests for the Inventory Tool for Custom Updates (ITCU) in SMS 2003 R2 and plan to do so for Configuration Manager moving forward.

This new software update engine also provides near real-time update status to enable better reporting and enhanced homepage views. These customized views can show you quick graphical charts of patch status throughout an IT infrastructure or for a specific collection of computers.  Finally, software update deployment templates dramatically reduce the number of steps required to push new updates to a system or collection. By using software update deployment templates to store common configuration information such as whether to force a restart or whether the client should download patches from the DP locally before executing the installation, this feature reduces the number of steps from the 18 required with the ITMU in SMS 2003 down to just 6 in Configuration Manager 2007.

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J.C. Hornbeck

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