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I have a group of 20-30 Win7 machines that I want to install, update, do some small configuration to and then deploy into 'the field'. At my job they use SCCM to maintain the systems so I started looking into using this. Its quite a complex app!

What Im wondering - is it possible to install and use this program in a (reasonably) simplified fashion to do small deployments? If we can get the Win7 bits to work we'd use it for other installations as well though none larger than a few hundred units.

Up till now we've always used Ghost to create our system images... and then recreate them when something is missing.. or updated.. Im hoping that SCCM is a 'better way' without being so huge as to take longer to setup that just imaging by hand.

FWIW: we have an msdnaa license so the cost(s) of the various apps are legal and covered.

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If SCCM seems intimidating, take a look at Microsoft Deployment Toolkit instead. –  William Jackson Feb 9 '12 at 21:40
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They serve two different roles. MDT is good for imaging. SCCM is good for continuous management post-deployment. –  MDMarra Feb 9 '12 at 21:45
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@ethrbunny recommendations like that are outside of the scope of this site, however, if you hop into Server Fault Chat during normal EST business hours, we have a few people that use SCCM heavily that could probably help point you in the right direction. –  MDMarra Feb 9 '12 at 22:15
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You might also want to be aware of System Center Essentials, which is a highly simplified version of SCCM and SCOM meant for small businesses. It doesn't have all the same deployment and management support of SCCM, but might by a good fit for what you're doing. –  Chris S Feb 10 '12 at 15:12
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A word of advice: SCCM is -extremely- heavy on resources, no matter how many clients you have connected. Don't put this in a VM with 1 cpu.. –  pauska Feb 10 '12 at 15:21

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I have a group of 20-30 Win7 machines that I want to install, update, do some small configuration to and then deploy into 'the field'

SCCM is definitely a complex app, but if you're looking for 'pushing' configurations to x number of machines, and would like the 'zero touch' strategy that Microsoft advertises, then you want SCCM. The other step to take would be going the MDT way, but then you won't have the zero touch usability you mentioned on your first sentence.

The complexity you're talking about really comes into play when you're supporting hundreds/thousands of hosts. Then you'll be wanting to add complexity to your hardware setup:

  • SQL server (managing all the host config data).
  • Network Redundancy
  • Storage
  • etc..

You should be fine going with SCCM (specially if licensing is not an issue).

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I know this is answered already, but I just wanted to add that MDT will work with SCCM. Here is a blog post showing some of the benefits of using them together: blogs.msdn.com/b/steverac/archive/2008/10/19/… And, since MDT is free there are no additional costs. –  WinOutreach4 Feb 15 '12 at 20:00

Just an FYI. What you're talking about is called a "Task Sequence" in SCCM. I prefer it over ghosting because it's not a still image. It means any computer you want to "image" you create a Task Sequence for it and you can alter that Task Sequence whenever and however you want and then be able to deploy it again.

You'll probably want to spend some time reading up on it because it talks about the various layers of packages you'll need, etc. There is a learning curve, but it's a skill worth mastering if you're going to utilize SCCM. Have a test machine on the network, create a collection for that single machine (Collection: "Test") and build a Task Sequence for it.

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There's no real way to answer that, since it depends on your skill level.

That said, if you have the resources, the SCCM would be a good addition to the management and automation of any size shop. It would certainly alleviate your need to constantly repackage ghost images.

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