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ConfigMgr Implementation Guide


How Microsoft IT Deployed System Center 2012 Configuration Manager

How Microsoft IT Deployed System Center 2012 Configuration ManagerSituationThe business of Microsoft IT is changing. Challenged by the growing number of computers and mobile devices connecting to the corporate network, requests for more end-user control over employees' managed systems, and the need to consolidate infrastructure, Microsoft IT needed to rethink client management services.SolutionUsing Microsoft System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, Microsoft IT designed a new client environment that provides user-centric services, reports on mobile devices, integrates health monitoring, and streamlines the client management infrastructure.BenefitsCost savings: Microsoft IT anticipates saving approximately U.S.$500,000 in the next two years due to a consolidation of servers and reduced costs for support, backup, custom tool development, and updates.Empowered end users: Microsoft IT uses the Configuration Manager Application Catalog (the catalog website) and Software Center (the local utility) to offer users an unprecedented level of control over how and when their software installations occur.Automatic client health monitoring: Using the Configuration Manager Health Evaluation feature, Microsoft IT has a robust reporting environment that not only enables them to monitor client health but also allows the client to proactively repair itself when it is not healthy.Improved system efficiency: The redesigned client management environment has consolidated the number of physical servers while ensuring that client systems always take the shortest path to the closest server.Products and TechnologiesMicrosoft System Center 2012 Configuration ManagerMicrosoft SQL Server 2008 R2

Published: April 2012Read about the approach that Microsoft IT took to implement Microsoft System Center 2012 Configuration Manager in its client management environment. This paper discusses how the consumerization of IT led Microsoft IT to rethink its client management services, the implementation of a new client management infrastructure, lessons learned from the deployment, and the benefits that Microsoft IT obtained by deploying Configuration Manager to more than 280,000 systems across the globe.SituationThe consumerization of IT is affecting how the Microsoft Information Technology department (Microsoft IT) thinks about client management. As the group responsible for maintaining the Microsoft corporate network and infrastructure, Microsoft IT is tasked with managing the more than 280,000 computers and reporting on the 125,000 mobile devices that connect to the network. Microsoft IT needed to enhance its client management environment in order to better support the ever-increasing numbers of systems connecting to the network, and to accommodate employees' requests for more control over their managed systems.Microsoft IT had been using Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 to ensure that managed systems comply with corporate policies and required configuration states. As the numbers of connected systems increased throughout the company's regional domains, Microsoft IT added servers on an as-needed basis to support the additional load. Microsoft IT would also perform in-place updates as Configuration Manager 2007 evolved. However, each update utilized the same underlying architectural model. Microsoft IT wanted to redesign its infrastructure to reduce the number of physical servers and secondary sites, and improve performance by reallocating resources according to client load.With so many systems in the environment, maintaining the health of the Configuration Manager 2007 clients became a daunting task. Microsoft IT depended on custom scripts to monitor and remediate certain aspects of a client in order to keep it healthy. Not only did the scripts require continual maintenance due to code revisions and updates to support the functions, but they also lengthened users' system logon times. Finally, Microsoft IT needed to evolve its application distribution services to meet the self-service needs of Microsoft personnel. In the company's Configuration Manager 2007based environment, Microsoft IT used a custom packaging tool to deploy applications through Configuration Manager 2007. Turnaround time for a complex package could require 7 to 10 days and the input of several IT personnel. Microsoft IT also had to maintain a separate Configuration Manager 2007 site to ensure that production setup was completely isolated from testing efforts.SolutionAs the companys first and best customer, Microsoft IT regularly adopts early releases of Microsoft technologies, tests them in a real-world environment, and provides critical feedback to improve products before they are generally available to the public. When the System Center product team began developing the next generation of Configuration Manager, Microsoft IT worked closely with the team to meet IT goals and to help ensure that System Center 2012 Configuration Manager could provide an end-to-end IT management experience.

ImplementationThe following sections describe the process that Microsoft IT undertook to implement System Center 2012 Configuration Manager throughout the companys client environment. The overall approach that Microsoft IT used for this large-scale process was based on the Microsoft Operations Framework, which provides guidelines for everyday IT practices and activities.As shown in Figure 1, Microsoft IT divided the System Center 2012 Configuration Manager implementation process into four main phases: Envision, Plan, Test, and Deploy. Each of these phases is described in more detail below.Figure 1. The four implementation phases that Microsoft IT followed to implement System Center 2012 Configuration Manager

Envision PhaseIn this first phase, Microsoft IT scoped the project and clarified its vision for implementing System Center 2012 Configuration Manager. Microsoft IT had three primary objectives that it wanted to achieve by upgrading the system management environment to System Center 2012 Configuration Manager:Embrace user-centric management. System Center 2012 Configuration Manager brings a variety of user-centric initiatives that Microsoft IT wanted to offer employees. Note: A Microsoft IT Showcase paper that discusses Microsoft IT's adoption of user-centric client management is available at http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh925141.aspx.Consolidate and minimize infrastructure. By adopting System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, Microsoft IT could consolidate its Configuration Manager 2007-based infrastructure and reduce overall complexity.Improve product quality. Microsoft IT wanted to validate its enterprise-scale deployment and ensure that the release version of System Center 2012 Configuration Manager was based on real-life results.

Current IT Infrastructure at MicrosoftTo illustrate Microsoft IT's approach toward adopting System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, this section provides a high-level summary of some of the key aspects of the company's IT infrastructure. Readers can compare the numbers of users, machines, distribution of systems, and network connections to their own infrastructure as a starting point when determining the scope and scale of their own System Center 2012 Configuration Manager deployment.As shown in Figure 2, the Microsoft infrastructure (at the time of publishing this paper) includes approximately 180,000 users and 280,000 computers in multiple regions around the world. Microsoft focuses on a centralized administration model for most managed systems, so all deployment and reporting are performed from a central site. The largest site at Redmond contains approximately 120,000 systems. Other large regional sites hold approximately 15,000 clients each, and the smallest site contains fewer than 50 clients. Network performance varies by link. The fastest connections support 2.5 gigabytes per second, whereas the slowest link supports 2 megabytes per second.Figure 2. Microsoft IT infrastructure as of April 2012

Determining Which Configuration Manager Features to UseAnother task in the Envision phase was to review the complete set of Configuration Manager 2007 features and the additional new features available in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager. The key existing desktop management features that Microsoft IT had been using and planned to continue with the new System Center 2012 Configuration Managerbased environment included:Hardware and software asset reportingSoftware deployment and update management Operating system deploymentMicrosoft Application virtualization (App-V) deploymentMalware protectionPower managementMicrosoft IT also determined they would implement the following Configuration Manager features some of which were new in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, some were expanded feature sets, and others were existing features that Microsoft IT wanted to implement as part of the new deployment:Mobile device managementUser-centric managementAuto deployment rules for updatesAlerts and reportingRole-based administration (RBA)Settings managementNote: For more information about the features available in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, see http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg699359.aspx.

Envisioning was straightforward for most of the new features. Microsoft IT's user-centric management strategy is described in detail in the Microsoft IT Showcase paper at http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh925141.aspx. Microsoft IT's mobile device management and endpoint protection implementation strategies are discussed below.

Defining a Mobile Device Management Implementation StrategyIn the Configuration Manager 2007-based environment, Microsoft IT did not report on mobile devices using Configuration Manager. However, in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, the new mobil


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