And when it finally arrived it was loaded to the brim so no one could get aboard. So we had to wait for another train. Finally we arrived too late at Tech-Ed: the first sessions had already started...
Fortunately I was allowed entrance to the first session, all about SCCM vNext (or is it V.next? I am not sure). And an interesting session it was. Much was demonstrated as well, based on a pre-beta built. But the demo’s went smooth. So one can see that Microsoft already has put much effort and resources in to it. Some screens were still under construction but still Microsoft is so proud that openly shared it with the audience:
There are many changes in this newest version to be found. Not only under the hood, but also on the outside. For instance the MMC is dropped and the UI we all know from the other SC products is being used. And this new UI for SCCM vNext really looks sharp! Here is my personal Top Ten of changes in this newest version of SCCM (of course there is much much more to it, and per item there are many sub items as well, but I run a blog and am not writing a book :) ):
- Web based portal
on a per-user basis which shows only the software available to that particular user
- In-Console Alerts
at a glance the administrator knows the status
- Next Generation Security Model
Role based: Security Role and Security Scope
- State-based DP Groups
Manage content distribution to individual DPs or groups of DPs: Adding a DP to a group will deliver the content targeted to that group. Removing a DP will also remove the content targeted to that group.
- Simplified Site Server Model
- Mobile Device Manager integrated into SCCM vNext
MDM capabilities will be integrated into SCCM vNext. Within time MDM won’t be available anymore as a standalone product. The VPN access solution, currently available in MDM will be dropped though.
- Software Updates simplified
Auto-deployment based on certain criteria like category, products, language, date revised, article id, bulletin id, etc
- Remote Control
Sending Alt-Ctrl-Del to host device is back!
- Integrated SQL Reporting Services Reporting (SRS)
Needs SQL Server 2008 SP1. ConfigMgr-to-SRS report conversion tool available to SCCM 2007 customers
- Desired Configuration Management (DCM)
Optional auto remediation for non-compliant regsitry-, wmi and script-based settings. Re-use of settings across Cl boundaries.
It was a very good session. The agenda was constructed upon questions come from the audience. Some topics which were discussed:
- Cook Down
- AD Replication, building your won rule/monitor to do so and what challenges to face
- Group Population: what to use Registry or WMI probe based?
- MIPS and how to make SCOM use it
- Health Rollups
- Universal Connector programming
In the audience Pete Zerger was present. He knows a lot about MP development. His questions were spot on. So I learned much during that session. One thing to know is that the MP Authoring Console also has a MP Authoring Toolkit which contains some great tools, like the Workflow Analyzer:
As it seems it is a great replacement for the Effective Configuration Viewer which doesn’t work that well in SCOM R2 environments. But beware since it creates an additional load on the analyzed server! But one will see fast enough where the issues arise. This toolkit can be found quick enough when using Bing and this search string is used: ‘Operations Manager Authoring Resource Kit’.
After this session I met Simon Skinner who was also attending this session. Also a person with a great knowledge and experience on SCOM.
At the exhibition I met Arie Haan (SCOM MVP) and talked a long time with Maarten Goet, also SCOM MVP. He really knows his stuff well and told me much about SCSM. In ten minutes I learned very much about it. A good conversation it was.
Microsoft System Center and the Green Client
Microsoft invests heavily on SC products in order to support companies to ‘go green’. This session was about the Power Management capabilities of SCCM R3 and targeted at the clients its manages. First the audience was told how Microsoft envisions its Environmental Mission. It is based on three pillars:
- Technology Leadership & Innovation: Leverage technology for Positive Impact
- Global Partnerships: Partner for Global Impact
- Environmental Practices: Drive corporate sustainable practices and environmental leadership
These are not just some shallow marketing slogans. No way. First of all, Microsoft has a started a special website which is all about Green IT: http://www.microsoft.com/environment/greenit. Here one can download many whitepapers all about this topic. Also many consultants (non-Microsoft) have been hired who are specialists on sustainability and every thing related to green IT. What do you say? Many Microsoft products are mentioned here. Yes, of course. It is about how Microsoft products relate to Green IT and how these products can help companies to realize their Green ‘goals’.
Also very nice on that website is the Microsoft Desktop Energy Savings Calculator. To be found here. It helps companies to calculate how much power/money they can save when they are using a certain mix of laptops/desktops, LCD’s/CRT’s, Windows XP/Windows Vista/7. Very interesting.
With the latest releases of the Operating Systems (Windows 7 & Windows Server 2008 R2) many new possibilities and improvements of existing features of advanced Power Management have been added.
Green IT enabler: SCCM R3
But how to keep track of it on a per client basis? SCCM R3 delivers the tooling for central management and reporting (!) of these Power Management capabilities. And really, Microsoft has gone to great lengths in order to simplify central administration. And yes, they have succeeded in it. Big time!
Microsoft realizes that Power Management on the clients needs to be accepted by its end users and administrators so there are three main areas which need special attention:
Microsoft reckons when the new Power Management approach respects these three main area’s it will certainly be accepted by the organizations.
During the session a short list of actions was described how to go about it when centralizing Power Management for the clients:
- Monitor current power state and consumptions
- Plan and create a power management policy, check for exceptions
- Apply power management policy
- Check compliance and remediate non-compliance
- Report saving in power consumption, environmental impact and costs
Everything was explained in further detail by Jeff Wettlaufer and demonstrated. The 75 minutes in this session were really packed and well spent. They were over before I knew it. Time well spent!
Even though a week like this costs a lot of (human)energy, it is certainly worth it. This day gave me deeper insights in SCCM vNext, SCCM R3, MP Authoring and how Microsoft envisions AND realizes Green IT. Also good to meet people like Simon Skinner, Pete Zerger, Alexandre Verkinderen, Maarten Goet and Arie Haan. And yes, it is a small world after all.