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I'm planning to migrate from System Center Essentials 2010 to Configuration Manager and Operations Manager. I know a lot about the first, little about the latter two, so before I start digging into it, I'd like to clear up a few things.

First of all, I believe SCE is about 90% monitoring, very much like SCOM, and the remaining 10% is the configuration management, but not like SCCM, it can install custom packages via WSUS and that's all, it's a very basic thing. This is why on the clients, I can see an SCOM agent, but no SCCM agent. Am I correct?

I don't have to keep any data from SCE, so I guess I'm lucky. So I'll just uninstall SCE, then install SCOM and SCCM on the server. I know I should put them on different servers, but I can't, the one server has plenty of resources, and noone goes as far as saying that it won't work.

Migrating the SCOM agents is the interesting part. They have been deployed manually from the SCE console, no AD integration. If I install SCOM and enable AD integration, will the SCOM agents find the new server, or do I have to reconfigure each of them manually? I know that SCE installs SCOM 2007 R2 agents, and I do hope that AD integration is the exact thing to solve this problem otherwise I'll really hate it.

So I have experience with SCE, based on my understanding it means I won't have much to learn about SCOM, but SCCM will be totally new. So the last question is if it's similar to SCOM: I enable AD integration, the agents will install automatically, they'll be ready to follow my orders, but otherwise they won't affect the systems in any way? I mean, generally I don't install software I don't understand, but if I don't have much time to learn every aspect of SCCM but still decide to install the agents, they won't do any harm, right?

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+100

I'll assume here that you are upgrading because you have reached the 50 Windows Servers and/or 500 Client Windows PCs limits in SCE, because I don't see any other clear business case for switching.

My experience with SCCM didn't see performance hits from installing the SCCM clients, or any specific conflicts with other software we run - but if you are running mission critical systems here, it would be wise to do some testing or get some (paid for) advice from your supplier.

What may be of interest depending on what you are running, is that there are some features of SCCM agent which require a reboot of the client before they will function correctly, or require .NET which will require a reboot. If you can't afford downtime to FULLY install the client and its prerequisites, then you may not get the value you were hoping for.

One such feature is the Desired Configuration Manager, which allows you to define "baseline" configurations which all your computers should meet, and then report on systems that don't meet that. It also allows you to push registry and other configuration changes out to your systems - if memory serves correctly, it was that part of the client that wasn't clear cut.

In terms of pushing windows updates and deploying software, SCCM just wraps around WSUS and other deployment mechanisms. If that is all you are looking for, you may find WSUS or deployment kits are all you need. For example, SCCM helps you deploy Windows to servers and PCs, but you can achieve it all with other tools and a little more effort. Actually, the learning curve for SCCM is quite steep, so you may spend less time figuring out unattended installation scripts etc.

Basically, my advice is to look at what you are expecting to get out of SCCM before you buy. If you only need a small number of its many features, spend some time looking at the alternatives for those features.

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Among others, we need baseline configurations and wake-on-lan assisted update installations, that's why we're planning to use SCCM (we're eligible through our MSDN subscription so it won't have additional costs). I think I read that SCCM also supports unattended Windows installations, and ever since I've been afraid that installing the agent will also install something in the boot loaders, or if I forget to configure something, some defaults will install or uninstall stuff that I don't want to. If it installs silently and won't do anything until I want it to, then it's okay. –  fejesjoco Jun 11 '11 at 15:23
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