System Center Configuration Manager for WS2K8 Released
What may eventually be considered one of the most useful and welcome new features for admins has finally been officially released by Microsoft. Today, the company announced that System Center Configuration Manager has officially "released to manufacturing." A 120-day trial evaluation version appeared on Microsoft TechNet this morning.
SCCM is the replacement for Systems Management Server 2003 R2, and its purpose is to enable an administrator from a central location to manage and configure operating systems remotely. This new version makes feasible an innovative method of deployment, which is actually already under way for Windows Vista: You can build your own "distribution image" of an operating system, complete with the applications and settings specific to your organization, and distribute it through your network for remote installation.
Another critical new feature is network access protection (NAP), which lets you set up a scheme whereby systems (including notebooks) cannot gain full access to your network until they meet certain "health" criteria that you specify. SCCM then sets up a process whereby those systems can "get healthy" before logging in.
Typically at this point, I'd provide a link to my description of this new Windows Server feature on InformIT's Windows Server Reference Guide, but that page was offline due to technical difficulties today. At any rate, UPDATE: The InformIT server's back up, so my full article on SCCM appears here. Here's how I described NAP last April:
UPDATE - Microsoft Senior Technical Product Manager for SCCM 2007 Jeff Wettlaufer wrote BetaNews on Wednesday to remind us that the new edition is not just for Windows Server 2008. Our headline for this story may have given that implication, so we stand corrected. The new edition also works with Windows Server 2003 R2.