Monthly Archives: December 2012

Time to look back at 2012…

Just as everyone I look back at 2012 to reflect on everything that happened for me this year.

For me, 2012 is a crazy year. I’ve done quite a number of projects and I was able to develop myself more and more as a Consultant/Architect. This especially true for ConfigMgr 2012 and more or less for OpsMgr 2012, other technologies received less attention from me. I’m more focusing on writing and helping organizations taking the right decisions to use the technology rather than operating the technology itself.

The main drive for this busy year was of course the release of System Center 2012 in April. While I was not able to attend at MMS 2012 I learned that during this event, Microsoft would release the RTM version of the System Center 2012 Suite.

Since my main focus is limited on ConfigMgr and OpsMgr its release meant the following for me:

  • Introducing ConfigMgr 2012 and OpsMgr 2012 to organizations who do not use this technology at all
  • Migrating to 2012 versions from existing implementations of the 2007 versions
  • Replace other vendor solutions

The 3rd item of the list was really interesting. Products such as Altiris or RES Automation Manager were simply pushed aside with ConfigMgr 2012. To a certain degree it’s unbelievable to see how many implementations were destroyed after finishing projects which consisted of designing and implementing ConfigMgr 2012.

Keep in kind though that I’m not interested in what product is the best, I only focus on political decisions organizations took to have these products replaced by ConfgMgr 2012.


Fortunately, my fast development also woke up the folks at the Dutch branch of Microsoft Consulting Services. This resulted in the opportunity to do a project in their name as a Partner. I guess I don’t need to tell you how honored I am to do this project together with Microsoft. I expect this project to last Q1 2013 completely. Of course I couldn’t have done it without the support of my manager Giovanni Perini and my account manager Remco Smith of BPMi. For that I’d like to thank them and I’d like to thank Microsoft for the opportunity to work together with them.


The year is almost over, I took a few days off until the end of the year and I look forward to a very fruitful and productive 2013 with great opportunities and challenges…


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Posted by on 27/12/2012 in Uncategorized


System Center 2012 SP1 has gone RTM for TechNet/MSDN subscribers, a nice Christmas gift

System Center 2012 SP1 has gone RTM. Its download is available for TechNet/MSDN subscribers.

The official release is in the beginning of January 2013.

So it’s time to upgrade our labs again and start familiarizing.

I guess it will be a very busy 2013 which is good.


SCCM 2012: Superseding Applications, a real world example…

In many projects I design and implement SCCM 2012 Site infrastructures. Most organizations are looking to optimize Operating System Deployment and Patch Management. In some cases, an existing SCCM 2007 Site infrastructure is already deployed. Migration strategies are developed to migrate all clients from SCCM 2007 to SCCM 2012.

The new feature used for application management is somewhat challenging for most administrators, especially if they already have a lot of Packages created in SCCM 2007. They tend to keep using this method in SCCM 2012 as well, but they’re missing a lot of comprehensive features Application Management provides.

This blog provides a nice feature of Application Management: superseding applications…

Superseding applications allows administrators to do the following:

  • Replacing an older application with a new version
  • Replacing an application by a different application of a different vendor

This blog demonstrates superseding Adobe Reader X with Adobe Reader XI. In this example, I downloaded the standard MSI files of both versions (10.0.0. and 11.0.0.). No customizations are used since the demonstration focuses on the installation of both versions.

Two applications have been created, one for each version. Since the installations are MSI, SCCM 2012 will configure the applications automatically and no additional configuration is required.

Each application has a standard deployment to a client machine, both are set as Available deployments.

Adobe Reader X is installed first, nothing special so far.

In order to have Adobe Reader XI installed and Adobe Reader X uninstalled first, I created a Supersedence in Adobe Reader XI first.

The screenshot shows that version XI supersedes version X, it will automatically uninstall version X before installing version XI.

Sidenote: it often happens that numerous versions of Adobe Reader are used as well. You can add these versions for as well to allow uninstallation of all previous versions so you maintain only one version of an application.

In the References property of version X, you can see that version X is superseded by version XI.

Once the supersedence is in place, you may want to stop any deployments of the superseded application. This can be done by deleting all deployments. Additionally, you might want to retire version X.

On the client machine, once the installation of version XI is started, it will automatically uninstall version X and install XI.

If the application is part of a Task Sequence, then you need to modify the Task Sequence with the new version…


SCCM 2012: To CAS or not to CAS, a personal opinion…

Hi everyone,

This blog post is rather a personal one than a technical one…

SCCM 2012 introduces a new Site Type called the Central Administration Site (CAS). The CAS is mainly used, as the name implies, for administration purposes.

A limited set of Site Roles can be installed on a CAS. Roles such as Management Point and Distribution Point are not available. Clients do not communicate with a CAS so you always need at least one Primary Site where clients will connect to and receive content.

A single Primary Site supports up to 100000 clients. This is sufficient for most organizations. Only large enterprises who have more than 100000 clients need more than one Primary Site.

Political reasons might come in place as well to use more than one Primary Site. A good example is providing a Primary Site for every region, let’s say one for every country. You need a CAS to manage all these Primary Sites from a central point. It is considered a best practice to keep the SCCM 2012 Site infrastructure as flat as possible. Avoid using Primary Sites and Primary Child Sites which was common practice in SCCM 2007.

Most of my customers don’t really need a CAS since their environments are too small to require a CAS. Administration occurs on the Primary Site which is the only site deployed.

At my current project, the environment is much larger than previous ones which require me to use a CAS.

This project provides me an opportunity to explorer using a CAS and determine its usefulness.


To cut it short: I’m impressed…

Using a CAS allows you to do daily administration in SCCM 2012 such managing applications, updates and is the best location for reporting purposes. This allows you to let your Primary Site(s) do what they do best: managing clients and distributing content.


In the upcoming release of SCCM 2012 SP1, you can install a CAS and connect a stand-alone Primary Site to the CAS. This information is available at the following TechNet location:




SCCM 2012 SP1 Beta: a very welcoming feature for Software Updates

From a personal point of view, the options provided by SCCM 2012 create a superior experience by its flexibility and options the Software Update Point (SUP). Especially the features Automatic Deployment Rules and Offline Servicing allows administrators to create a very powerful set of tools to automate Software Updates. You can extend its capabilities by using System Center Updates Publisher (SCUP) 2011 which allows publishing your own Software Updates either by a vendor’s catalog or updates published by yourself.

Any Software Update Point that is on top of a hierarchy connects to connect to Microsoft Update to synchronize and download the Software Updates your organization requires. This works fine for most organizations who allow the SUP to be connected to the Internet. A proxy server can be set if required.

But what if an Internet connection is not available? Some high security environments have company policies which forbid the internal network to be connected to the Internet.

The only option is having a separate WSUS server running which is located in a perimeter network which does have access to the Internet.

You can use WSUSUtil.exe to export and import Software Updates but this requires quite an amount of administrative effort.

The other option is configure an upstream server in the WSUS SDK Console temporarily. This can be done either manually or you can write a script. This requires quite an amount of administrative effort and it is not a best practice to modify WSUS settings in the WSUS SDK Console. SCCM 2012 sets the required values by itself.

Fortunately, the issues mentioned are no longer required with SCCM 2012 SP1.

At the following TechNet page you can view what’s new in SCCM 2012 SP1:

I quote the welcoming feature regarding Software Updates:

‘At the top-level Configuration Manager site you can now specify an existing WSUS server as the upstream data source location. During synchronization, the site connects to this location to synchronize software updates. For example, if you have an existing WSUS server that is not part of the Configuration Manager hierarchy, you can specify the existing WSUS server to synchronize software updates.’

Keep in mind though that an additional WSUS server is required which is able to communicate with Microsoft Update…

In order for this to work you need to install hotfix KB2720211 on the Site server that hosts the SUP


SCCM 2012 SP1 Beta: caution for SQL patch levels

SCCM 2012 SP1 beta has been out for a while. Many people are testing the product in lab environments to prepare themselves for the release of SCCM 2012 SP1.

If you’re building and rebuilding these lab environments, then there’s a little catch preparing an SQL instance for the SCCM 2012 SP1 Site Database.

The following list on TechNet is an overview of supported SQL configurations:


Recently I tried to build a lab environment using SQL 2008 R2 with SP2.

I was in for quite a surprise that SCCM 2012 SP1 setup gave an error message stating that SQL needs to be updated to the required patch level.

This contradicts with the overview on TechNet, but it is still a beta.

If you want to build a lab using SQL 2008 R2, then your patch level needs to be SP1 and Cumulative Update 6.


Fortunately I started again using SQL 2012 with no Service Pack and Cumulative Update 2 and SCCM 2012 SP1 accepted this feature without any issues.


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