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I have been researching System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R2 SP2 and struggling to swallow the SCCM pill. The tool seems outdated and not well equipped for managing an environment with the latest versions of Server 2008 R2, SQL 2008 R2, Exchange 2010, SharePoint 2010, etc.

I need software that will help me:

  • Deploy new software
  • Monitor what software is deployed
  • Deploy updates
  • Install new server and client OSes with specific configurations
  • Monitor drive space and be able to send out alerts
  • Aggregate event logs so that there is one central place for monitoring the health of an organization
  • Be configurable via script
  • Have a good DR plan so that all the effort poured into setting everything up is not at risk

These features line up well with the advertised features of System Center Configuration Manager and possibly Operations Manager as well but both of these pieces of software feel old and out of date.

Do I have any real alternatives in this market space?

I have seen Nagios and Zenoss but we are a Windows shop and adding the maintenance and management of a linux server for this purpose is probably more work than dealing with the quirks of SCCM.

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SCCM is for configuration management gets inventory deploys software and manages patches. Can you detail what's missing on that front? –  Jim B Sep 7 '10 at 17:43
    
SCCM is perhaps the poorest excuse for a tool MS has developed in recent years. If you are an ADMIN and never allow a user to touch the Software portal maybe then it has a purpose but from an end user point of view it is like pulling your teeth out. Nothing in the real world works like this! You check out your software and maybe you get it maybe you don't. Maybe it lost its CSI and you as the end user will have no idea why the software didn't install. Maybe the Advertisement has gone wrong, maybe this is just a piece of sh..! Whatever you do, do not allow your company to use this for the end u –  user110690 Feb 14 '12 at 23:36
    
@Richard Just because you don't know what you're doing, doesn't mean the software doesn't work. Computers don't know anything more than what you tell them; garbage in, garbage out. Sorry, but I've been using SCCM for years and it really is that simple. –  Chris S May 19 '12 at 2:12
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3 Answers 3

Other than the patch management pieces it sounds like you need to add SCOM to your environment.

You might look at patchlink for patch management instead of SCCM and SCOM for the rest.

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SCCM handles the Patch Management functionality. You are correct in the need to add SCOM though for the operational monitoring. –  Kevin Colby Nov 9 '11 at 22:41
    
Yes that's whay I said "other than the patch management" –  Jim B Nov 10 '11 at 15:34
    
ah! I misunderstood your meaning. –  Kevin Colby Nov 10 '11 at 18:54
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SCCM is a tool for OS Deployment, Software deployment, Hardware/Software Inventory, Software (primarily windows) Updates. SCCM Definitely has some quirks, but is VERY good at it's job. What will eventually happen is that something will click and you'll finally "Get It" and things will become much easier. I would recommend sticking with it a bit longer.

SCOM Solves your Operational Monitoring need. In fact there are SCOM MPs from Microsoft (built primarily by the actual product teams for the products they monitor) for all of the software you mentioned.
SCOM does not directly "Aggregate event logs so that there is one central place for monitoring the health of an organization" as this is inefficient and unnecessary, you will write rules and monitors that perform the necessary monitoring without simply collecting everything first.

I would strongly recommend finding a System Center User group in your area. These groups are invaluable sources of contacts that know what they're doing in System Center and are usually happy to help. I would also look at http://www.myITForum.com as an excellent source of System Center information. Finally, if you can swing it, try to go to the Microsoft Management Summit in 2012 as the single best source of System Center technical information and training around.

If you have a Microsoft EA, check with your TAM and see if they can get you some sort of Quick Start deal where they'll pay for some on site consulting hours if you add SCOM licensing. You may also already have DPS days (I think that's what they're called) included in your contract, leverage these!

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SCCM is great for the bullet points you just mentioned. SCCM 2012 is around the corner which may provide better management into the 2010 suite of products: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/system-center/configuration-manager-2012.aspx

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