What’s new in Configuration Manager 2012, and more importantly what do those of us with existing Configuration Manager 2007 sites need to know looking ahead to Configuration Manager 2012. I’ve been working with the Configuration Manager 2012 beta for a while now, and here’s some of the things I’ve observed.
1.Configuration Manager 2012 is a 64-bit application. Configuration Manager 2007 was 32-bit only. There is no direct upgrade from the 32-bit Configuration Manager 2007 site to the 64-bit Configuration Manager 2012 site. There is, however, a powerful and simple “Migration” node included with Configuration Manager 2012 which will make it simple to migrate your hierarchy to 2012.
2.Configuration Manager 2012 introduces several significant changes to Sites. For instance in Configuration Manager 2012 the new “Central Administration Site” (CAS), which replaces the Primary Site at the top of your hierarchy (known as the Central Site in Configuration Manager 2007). The CAS must be created when you initially deploy your SCCM 2012 hierarchy. If you want (or in the future will want) a site hierarchy consisting of multiple primary sites, you must decide that before you install your first Configuration Manager 2012 site. The CAS does not support clients, you must install at least one Primary site as a child of the CAS to provide client support. The CAS is used primarily to facilitate communications between sites, and to provide centralized reporting. You need to start thinking of how your new hierarchy will look. This is your chance to start again with a new, more appropriate hierarchy if necessary.
3.Your site hierarchy now shares a common SQL database. When you have more than one Configuration Manager 2012 site in your hierarchy, Configuration Manager will use SQL Database Replication to transfer and merge data with information stored in other sites databases. This allows all sites in the hierarchy to share the same database of information. As soon as you set up a CAS, or configure a Primary site with a secondary site, replication is set up between those databases.
4.You can no longer change a primary site’s parent site. This means that when installing a new site, you must specify whether it will be a child site. You cannot change this setting after the site has been installed. Again, you need to think through and plan how you would like your hierarchy to look.
5.Primary Sites can only have secondary sites as children. A primary site cannot be parent to another primary site. Until now, we have been able to build relatively deep hierarchies – whether this was a good practice or not is another issue. It’s time to start flattening your hierarchy. Configuration Manager 2012 will limit the depth and complexity of our hierarchical structure. If you do not initially install a Central Administration Site (CAS), a primary site can have one or more secondary sites reporting to it, but you cannot introduce any other primary sites into the hierarchy.
6.SQL or SQL Express are required for secondary sites. Yes, the secondary site will have (and require) a database, which will replicate to the parent.
7.Active Directory Forest discovery is a new discovery method in Configuration Manager 2012 that allows you to discover network locations from one or more Active Directory forests. Forest Discovery can also create boundaries in Configuration Manager for network locations it discovers, and you can publish site data to another Active Directory forest to help support clients, sites, and site system servers that exist in that forest.
8.Configuration Manager 2012 applies a hierarchy-wide set of default client settings. These were the Client Agent settings that you configured in the Site Settings for Configuration Manager 2007. These default settings in 2012 will apply to all clients in the hierarchy, not just a single site. You can modify these settings on clients by using custom client settings that you assign to collections. So you will configure one group of client defaults for your hierarchy, and can then tweak those settings on a per-collection basis.
9.Software Deployment in Configuration Manager looks quite different than in 2007. Extremely different. Rather than going into detail here, I’ll do another post detailing those changes.
10.Users can now browse a list of available software in the new “Application Catalog”. A user can request an application from the catalog which, if approved, is installed on their computer. This Application Catalog is part of the drive to make Configuration Manager 2012 more user-centric.
11.Remote Control – well there’s good news on this front! From the remote control window you can Send Ctrl+Alt+Del. Who hasn’t been asking for that?
12.Distribution Points can now be configured with bandwidth, throttling, and scheduling options, allowing you to control content distribution. This eliminates a major pain-point in Configuration Manager 2007, as content scheduling and bandwidth control was often the reason identified for creating secondary sites in Configuration Manager 2007.
13.The PXE Service Point role is gone in 2012. Instead, you enable the PXE attribute on individual Distribution Points.
That’s certainly not all for what’s new, but it’s a start. I’ll keep posting updates so stay tuned.