System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager is a user-centric product that focuses on the management of users and the devices they have rather than the management of devices and the people who use them. You can use System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager to manage assets, applications, compliance, and software updates, in addition to deploying operating systems, and monitoring and reporting on your environment.
In this post, you will learn about the basic features of System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager, the various types of sites, and the site system roles that you can deploy. System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager takes advantage of a redesign of several features in previous versions of Configuration Manager. This post covers the enhancements and modifications made to the Configuration Manager console. You will explore the interface of the Configuration Manager console and learn how to navigate it to locate and use important features. Additionally, you will review the tools that are available for monitoring and troubleshooting Configuration Manager.
System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager groups various features into common management areas. Understanding the different features of Configuration Manager will help you understand its functionality and limitations. These features include the management of assets, applications, compliance, and software updates, in addition to the deployment of operating systems, and monitoring and reporting.
Overview of System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager provides a unified infrastructure and a single console through which you can manage physical, virtual, and mobile clients. It also provides tools and improvements that make it easier for IT administrators to do their jobs.Several features of System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager provide the tools that help an organization provide highly effective IT
services in several areas:
• Asset management. These tools enable you to gather and use information about a network’s
users and devices.
• Change management. These tools enable you to deploy and manage applications in a network,identify and remediate devices that do not have correct configurations, upgrade existing client systems or deploy new client systems.
• Administrative Features. These tools enable you to monitor an environment that you manage with Configuration Manager, in addition to the tasks that you perform within that environment.
New Features in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP1
System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP1 introduced the following significant features that provide support for:
• The Configuration Manager client on computers that are running Windows 8.
• The ability to deploy Windows 8 or to perform upgrades of Windows 7 computers to Windows 8 by using Configuration Manager.
• Windows To Go.
• User data and profiles configuration that enables Configuration Manager to manage folder
redirection, offline files, and roaming profiles.
• Deployment of Windows Store apps (.appx files) to Windows 8 clients through sideloading or links to the Windows Store. Sideloading is the process by which Windows Store apps are deployed to devices without using the Windows Store.
• The metered Internet connection and the Always On, Always Connected Windows 8 features.
• Using Windows Server 2012 on site systems and client devices.
• Using SQL Server 2012 to host the Configuration Manager database.
• Mac OS X, Linux, and UNIX computers as Configuration Manager client devices.
• Mobile devices that are running the Windows Phone 8, Windows RT, iOS, and Android operating
systems through a Windows Intune organizational account.
• The inclusion of Windows PowerShell® cmdlets that you can use to automate Configuration Manager operations through Windows PowerShell command-line interface scripts.
• Windows Azure distribution points.
• The ability to expand a stand-alone primary site into a hierarchy with a new central administration site.
• Migration of a Configuration Manager SP1 hierarchy to another Configuration Manager SP1
• More than one software-update point in a site.
• The ability to trigger some client operations, such as downloading policy and triggering malware scans, from the Configuration Manager console.
• Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V) virtual environments that allow App-V applications to share data from file systems and registries.
• Increased email alert subscriptions.
New Features in System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager
In addition to the features discussed above, System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager includes the following new features that provide support for:
• Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1
• Boot images that you create by using Windows Automated Installation Kit for Windows 7 SP1.
• The new site system role for certificate registration points. This role enables deployment to, and management of, certificates to Configuration Manager client devices.
• Certificate profiles that support user and device certificates to managed devices that are running the iOS, Windows 8.1, Windows RT 8.1, and Android operating systems.
• Merging of System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager hierarchies.
• Migration of System Center 2012 Configuration Manager test-environment data to a System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager production environment.
• The enrollment of Mac OS X computers and deployment of client certificates through an enrollment wizard.
• The ability to reassign Configuration Manager client devices, including managed mobile devices, to a different site in the Configuration Manager hierarchy, either individually or through bulk reassignment.
• The enrollment of Android devices by using the Company Portal app that is available through the Google Play store. The Company Portal app includes the Configuration Manager management agent that enables management capabilities such as password settings, a camera, and encryption settings.
• The enrollment of iOS devices by using the Company Portal app that is available through the Apple App Store. The Company Portal app enables users to change or reset a password, download and install organization apps, enroll, unenroll, or remove organizational content from their iOS device.
• Devices that run the Windows RT, iOS, and Android mobile operating systems support the Required deployment purpose.
• The wipe and retire function, which enables administrators to remove only organizational content from devices.
• Windows Intune, which can manage Windows 8.1 devices that are not domain-joined and do not have the Configuration Manager client installed.
• Additional Compliance Settings related to mobile devices.
• Deploying web applications through a new deployment type.
• Windows 8.1 app bundles (.appxbundle) to optimize the deployment of Windows Store apps and resource packages.
• Featured applications that display prominently in the Company Portal.
• Configuration of per-application VPN profiles that enable an application to open a VPN connection.
• Remote connection profiles, which enable users to connect remotely to their work computers from the company portal.
• VPN profiles, which enable you to deploy VPN settings to devices that are running iOS, Windows RT, and Windows RT 8.1.
• Wi-Fi profiles that enable you to deploy Wi-Fi connection settings to devices that are running iOS, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows RT, and Windows RT 8.1.
• Maintenance windows for software updates.
• Previews of software updates in an automatic deployment rule.
• Altering the deployment package for an existing deployment rule so that you can add new software updates more efficiently.
• The ability to view resultant client settings so that you can see effective client settings that are applied to specific devices.
• Non-default locations for site database files.
• The creation of pre-staged content files for task-sequence content.
• Virtual hard disk management.
• New task sequence steps that include Run PowerShell Script, Check Readiness, and Set Dynamic Variables.
• Pull-distribution points that enable administrators to configure priorities for source distribution points.
• Pushing of status information about completed actions by pull-distribution points to the site server.
• Summary reports of distribution point usage, which enables administrators to view details that compare individual distribution point utilization.
• Configuration Manager reporting, which supports role-based administration with all of the reports’ data filtered based on the permissions of the user who runs the report.