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Configuration Manager R3 comes as no surprise

The next version of System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) 2007 should officially ship soon, with the release candidate approved earlier this month. The update is relatively minor, however, when compared to the full-blown revamp on the way with SCCM v.Next, for which an initial beta is already available.

I spoke recently with Mark Mears, a systems specialist of Windows design and operations for Macy’s Inc., to get his thoughts on the new power management features for SCCM 2007 R3. (There are a few other updates as well, but the new power consumption reports are the big news.) He said he wasn’t surprised by Microsoft putting out an R3 for SCCM, even with the v.Next already available.

“It’s not necessarily strange. I used to work for Microsoft back in 2003 [as a support engineer on the Systems Management Server team], and we’d routinely see a long wait for migrations and upgrades,” Mears told me. “So I don’t think [the timing of R3] is unnatural. There are still users out there running SMS 2003 – I mean not many, but they are out there.”

Matt Tinney, a System Center architect for Windows Management Experts concurred, describing R3 as an “intern product enhancement to address the major pillars of the DSI that was originally discussed at [Microsoft Management Summit] a few years ago.“

So in other words, Microsoft felt the new features in R3 were worth offering as a simple upgrade rather than forcing customers to migrate to the next major release, even if that comes next year. This might be of interest to those still running SCCM 2007 SP1, as Mainstream support ends with the 2010 calendar year. The current version available for Software Assurance customers is SCCM 2007 SP2 R2, which is required to install R3.

The v.Next release will have a much different focus. You can find more details in my post on the v.Next beta from back in May, but the focus is on what Microsoft is calling “user-centric client management.” For more info, you can listen to my conversation with Microsoft’s Robert Reynolds from MMS 2010, where he described SCCM v.Next as “a single solution that allows one place to set policy, one place to do deployments.”

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