By Bill Bernat
It’s only January, and SCCM is moving like a bullet train. Adaptiva is investing more in Configuration Manager and other Microsoft technologies this year than ever before. To help you understand why, let’s start by taking a look back at 2016.
Throughout the history of SCCM, Microsoft has built significant new features and functions into every release, as seen in SMS 2003, SCCM 2007 and SCCM 2012. The next major version was given a super snappy name: “1511.” With this release, Microsoft did something totally revolutionary. Instead of just delivering new SCCM enhancements and capabilities, they re-engineered the way they build them.
While SCCM 1511, 1602, 1606 and 1610 deliver a cornucopia of great new features, the big story is the fact that there actually were four new versions within a year! And, of course, Windows 10, is the biggest story. Along with countless other new capabilities, SCCM delivers better support for organizations to deploy/upgrade/provision Windows 10, keep Windows 10 up-to-date, and manage Windows 10. Merely listing out all these features, however, would be missing the big picture.
SCCM professionals won’t look back at 2016 in five years and talk about this or that feature. In the history of SCCM, 2016 will be remembered as the year:
- Microsoft began developing and releasing SCCM ridiculously fast. New SCCM technical previews came out monthly with new GA releases every four months (or so). This began on Dec. 8, 2015, with the release of 1511, but 2016 was the first year Microsoft actually delivered every single month—impressive!
- Customer requests drove development decisions. Online, at conferences, in user groups–everywhere they go–Microsoft is aggressively asking, “What can we do that will make you like our software more?” At the risk of dating myself, it reminds me of their user-feedback-obsessed culture back when Word was the little guy fighting the Goliath Word Perfect. (For those of you who have never heard of Word Perfect, enough said.)
- The term Current Branch (CB) became a quasi-version number. Microsoft referred to each version (1511, 1602, etc.) as the “current branch,” so now it’s used generally to refer to SCCM 1511 or later. One could argue that current branch only refers to the latest, or any version within the last 12 months, which is the timeframe any release is fully supported.
- Everything revolved around Windows 10. Microsoft’s newest OS is a hit by every known metric, with consumer and business deployment racing far ahead of previous versions. A great deal of SCCM’s improvements were geared toward supporting the heck out of the new OS, its rapid release cycle, its (slightly confusing) service branches, and its growing monthly cumulative updates.
Prediction: In 2017, SCCM will thrive and grow while Intune also picks up market share.
That’s the big picture. The specific features that will materialize are yet to be revealed, but a few likely items include:
- More Windows 10 support, including comprehensive delta support for Windows 10 Cumulative Updates
- More user control, such as the ability to postpone deployments based on real-time factors (already out in TP)
- More power in Task Sequences because, even though they were intended for OSD only, IT pros are using them for much more
- More Intune integration with SCCM because, even though companies are not moving to Intune nearly as fast as initially expected, there is a growing need
- Improvements to Client Peer Cache will help provide basic servicing while Microsoft continues to look to partners like Adaptiva to supercharge peer-to-peer for high-volume, zero-touch Windows 10 OSD, elimination of global server infrastructure and faster content delivery
- Additional Secure Windows 10 tools and support, including BIOS-UEFI conversion and deeper support for Windows 10 features like Secure Boot, Device Guard and Credential Guard
Whatever turns SCCM’s evolution takes, it will continue to provide IT pros with the features they need to manage endpoints on their own hardware, software and network. At the same time, Microsoft continues to evolve Intune. While Intune is not going to unseat SCCM in the foreseeable future, we are seeing many enterprises begin to explore a move to the cloud for IT infrastructure and PC management. Adaptiva is excited to be a strategic part of the innovation happening around these endpoint management solutions for businesses worldwide.
Want a deeper look back at SCCM in 2016? Here’s a nice recap of some of the best websites and tools we found for SCCM and enterprise Windows 10 deployment information from many of the best SCCM experts in the world: Top 16 SCCM Tips from 2016.