Windows

Five utilities for better SCCM management

You can make System Center Configuration Manager more powerful and efficient with the help of a few add-ins.

System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) helps IT organizations gain better control over their assets. SCCM offers a good experience out of the box, but when it's combined with add-ins and complementary utilities, it really shines. Here's a look at five helpful add-ins that simplify SCCM management.

Note: This list is based on an entry in The Enterprise Cloud blog.

1: System Center Configuration Manager 2007 Toolkit V2

Even Microsoft knows that SCCM has some room for improvement, and it's offering a second version of its conglomeration of 11 useful utilities. Dubbed System Center Configuration Manager 2007 Toolkit V2, the download package includes:

  • Client Spy. Helps SCCM administrators troubleshoot problems related to software distribution, inventory, and other SCCM-based tasks.
  • Delete Group Class Tool. Removes inventory group definitions.
  • Desired Configuration Management Migration Tool. Migrates Systems Management Server 2003 DCM items to SCCM 2007.
  • Desired Configuration Management Model Verification Tool. Validates DCM configuration items and baselines.
  • Desired Configuration Management Substitution Variable Tool. Authors desired configuration management configuration items that use chained setting and object discovery.
  • Management Point Troubleshooter Tool. Ensures that SCCM management points are in good operational order.
  • Policy Spy. Provides SCCM administrators with a way to troubleshoot policies being applied to clients.
  • Preload Package Tool. Used to manually install compressed copies of package source files on Configuration Manager 2007 sites.
  • Security Configuration Wizard Template for Configuration Manager 2007. Helps administrators reduce the attack surface of Windows Server 2008 R2-based servers.
  • Send Schedule Tool. Triggers a client-side evaluation of a DCM baseline.
  • Trace32. A log file viewer that no SCCM administrator should try to live without.

2: SCCM Autodoc

SCCM infrastructures have a ton of information about existing technology environments, and SCCM itself (once it has been deployed for a while) has a lot of its own information, including client agent details, package information, advertisement configuration, and collection information. The SCCM Autodoc tool provides you with a way to fully and completely document the pertinent details of your SCCM infrastructure.

3: PackageStatusDetailSummarizer

For those of you who are running larger SCCM organizations and need to know when packages are staged and what versions of a package are available on various distribution points, a desktop gadget called PackageStatusDetailSummarizer is just what the CIO ordered. This desktop gadget works on Windows Vista and Windows 7 desktops that support Windows Sidebar, and once you provide the gadget with the package ID you'd like to watch, you can see the distribution status of the current package.

4: SCCM Copy and Paste context menu add-on

There may be times when you need to create a bunch of similar collections. Using the default method, this can be a tedious process as you manually create queries for each new collection, even if you need to change only one aspect of the query. SCCM Copy and Paste lets you just copy and paste the collection details. With this tool, you can copy and paste collections, packages, advertisements, and programs without having to re-create each one from scratch.

5: ForeFront Endpoint Protection 2010

In the latest version of Microsoft Forefront Endpoint Protection 2010 (FEP), Microsoft adopted the excellent and lightweight Microsoft Security Essentials and added enterprise management features that are critical in today's regulated workplace. When FEP is combined with SCCM, magic happens. With the combination, you can take a hands-off maintenance approach with the FEP client and get constant at-a-glance statistics, centralized logging, and centralized management. And you can leverage your existing management infrastructure to make it all happen.

When you add FEP into SCCM, you can easily answer a number of important questions, such as:

  • What percentages of computers are currently protected?
  • Are the latest definitions installed?
  • What malware was detected in the organization?
  • What computers currently have malware activity?
These critical questions (answered in Figure A) will help you take more proactive steps in preventing potential outbreaks while maintaining single-pane management.

Figure A

The SCCM-based FEP dashboard. (Click the image to enlarge.)

What's your favorite SCCM add-in?

These are just some of the add-ins that are available for SCCM. Share your own favorites with the TechRepublic community.

About

Since 1994, Scott Lowe has been providing technology solutions to a variety of organizations. After spending 10 years in multiple CIO roles, Scott is now an independent consultant, blogger, author, owner of The 1610 Group, and a Senior IT Executive w...

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