System Center Configuration Manager 2012 SP1 – Arrival of MDM

Hot on the heels of the upgrade to the Windows Intune service Microsoft released Service Pack 1 for the System Center 2012 Suite of products to TechNet & MSDN. This update is also said to bring Mobile Device Management (MDM) support to System Center Configuration Manager so we’ll need to take a look at that 🙂

For a quick recap of what Windows Intune looks like on Windows RT:
http://mobilitydojo.net/2012/12/20/windows-rt-mdm-first-impressions/

I’ll admit that personally I’m more excited about SP1 for SC Virtual Machine Manager since I’m using it all the time whereas SCCM is sort of overkill for managing the home lab.

SCCM is of course historically, (including the preceding name of "SMS"), a product for managing traditional servers and clients, and while there are improvements in that area too I’m not diving into that. (Others will do so I assume, and they will probably be more knowledgeable than me in that part of the product.)

SCCM is now able to integrate with Windows Intune, exactly for the purpose of managing Windows RT and mobile devices through the "cloud".

Finding it in the menu hierarchy
SCCM_Intune_01

Start the wizard:
SCCM_Intune_02

Enter your Windows Intune credentials (a login page will pop up):
SCCM_Intune_03

Logically I would show you the rest of the screenshots of this process now, but alas I’m not going to do so for the time being. You see, there’s a nifty little restriction in place…

I have a Windows Intune subscription since I went through that process only two weeks ago, but once you have started using the Windows Intune portal you cannot use the same subscription for integration with SCCM… You have to start a new subscription to integrate with SCCM.

It’s even acknowledged by MSFT as a known limitation:
http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/windowsintuneprod/thread/410613e2-dd23-4526-b0ba-dab083cf1369

Yes, I could have signed up for a new trial, but I don’t expect there to be any problems completing said wizard once you know where to find it in the menus so I skipped it.

The real kicker is that this means that if you want to start out using Windows Intune because it’s sufficient for your needs right now, or you’re only piloting some mobile devices, you cannot upgrade to SCCM afterwards… You’ll have to get a new subscription and re-enroll your devices. The integration between the public and the private cloud should have been implemented in a more smooth fashion than this. Let’s hope MSFT is working on improving this…

Let’s pretend we have added the subscription, and want to deploy an app to a Windows Phone 8 device. This can be done in the "regular" SCCM way:

Choose “Create Application”
SCCM_WP-APP_01

Select “Windows Phone app package” from the drop-down menu:
SCCM_WP-APP_02

SCCM_WP-APP_03

SCCM_WP-APP_04

SCCM_WP-APP_05

SCCM_WP-APP_06

As I mentioned Windows 8 (both Pro and RT) needs a sideloading key to install Metro-style apps outside the official store, and there’s a place for adding these as well:
SCCM_Sideloading_01

Add any keys you got, and number of activations they’re good for
SCCM_Sideloading_02

It’s great to see actual support for mobile devices coming to System Center Configuration Manager, although many companies have already invested in dedicated MDM solutions, and might find this "too little, too late". I would have loved to see more capabilities offered for managing Microsoft’s own mobile platforms, but the limitations are inherent to the platforms themselves not SCCM as such. (Having deployed Windows Mobile 5/6 there’s not really many smartphone devices these days that can compete with the tweakability of the old school devices so I’m probably a hard man to please in this regard.)

Like I said going through Windows Intune, SCCM does cover the basics, and being able to deploy apps and set a few security-related features will be sufficient for a lot of scenarios. While I haven’t dug deep into SCCM yet I expect that there is feature parity between Windows Intune and SCCM for mobile devices for now.

This brings out another question which I haven’t touched upon yet. Does SCCM 2012 require Windows Intune for managing mobile devices, or is it possible to manage them without Windows Intune? Depends on what you have in mind Smile

– Windows Mobile 6.1/6.5 and Symbian Belle are supported directly by SCCM (just like they were pre-SP1).
– Windows Phone 8, Windows RT, iOS and Android are supported only through the Windows Intune connector.
– Windows 8 Pro & Enterprise is not considered a mobile device in this context although the upcoming Surface Pro and similar devices certainly have a mobile-ish feel to them. (They are managed in the same manner as Windows 7.)
– ActiveSync devices not covered by the options above can be quasi-managed through using an Exchange connector. (Requires Exchange Server 2010 SP1 or higher.)

Note that Android support is not available in Windows Intune yet, so although SCCM considers these devices supported you’ll have to wait for some further updates to implement this.

5 thoughts on “System Center Configuration Manager 2012 SP1 – Arrival of MDM”

  1. If I use SCCM together with the Intune connector is there still the 5 devices per user limitation like with the cloud based Intune?

  2. I haven’t tested that so I don’t know, but I don’t see why the limit would apply when using SCCM. (You might want to have a limit of course, but it helps if you can configure it yourself.)
    When using the Intune connector Intune works as the MDM engine, but all data is stored into the SQL database of SCCM and it’s sort of a proxy/gateway if you will.

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