Deploying Applications with System Center 2012 Configuration Manager

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With the General Availability of System Center 2012 Configuration Manager (ConfigMgr 2012) just around the corner, many of my customers have been starting to prepare for the new version.  This is not a simple task as there is no upgrade option.  The only option is migration.  There are some good tools in ConfigMgr 2012 to help migrate objects but in order to take full advantage of some of the new features, you will have to learn some of the new paradigms.  In this post I will focus on one of the most obvious enhancements, the new Application Model.

The Old Way – SCCM 2007

The previous version of SCCM (and SMS for that matter) uses a Package model that has four key conceptsP

  1. Package – Container for files – replicated to Distribution Points
  2. Program – command line within a package that runs something such as an exe, msi, bat, etc. typically used to install software
  3. Advertisement – Makes a program and package available to a client.  Advertisements can be assigned (mandatory)
  4. Collection – Target for advertisement

Any logic like dependencies of or hardware requirements need to be manually built into the installation program or used as part of the collection membership logic.

The Package Model continues to be supported but is very limited compared to the new
Application Model provided in Configuration Manager 2012.  If required, packages can be migrated from a 2007 site using the Package Conversion Manager.

The New Way – Configuration Manager 2012 Application Model

The New Application Model is much more flexible than the Package model as it provides the ability to include much of the dependency logic that was has to be created manually in the Package Model.  Some new concepts:

  1. Application – A piece of software that users need access to
  2. Deployment – Distribution of an application.
  3. Required Deployment – A mandatory deployment (much like an assigned package)
  4. Global Conditions – Global Conditions are requirements that can be re-used across multiple applications without having to recreate them.  Examples of global conditions are platform (x86 or x64, OS version, Service pack version, language, etc.
  5. Requirement Rules – These are local to the particular application.  They can be used to evaluate prerequisites like disk space, memory, other required applications, etc.
  6. Deployment Types – Deployment types allow the same application to install differently depending on the target device.  For example, a full local installation can be performed on a user’s primary device that is on the corporate LAN while a virtual application would be streamed if they were not on their primary device.
    1. Windows Installer – Creates a deployment type from a Windows Installer file.
    2. Script Installer – runs a script on the client that performs an action – typically installing an application.
    3. Microsoft Application Virtualization – Creates an App-V deployment type based on the associated manifest file
    4. Windows Mobile Cabinet – Creates a deployment type from a Windows Mobile Cabinet (CAB) file. Configuration Manager can retrieve information from the CAB file to automatically populate some boxes of the Create Deployment Type Wizard.
    5. And my favourite – Nokia SIS file – Creates a deployment type from a Nokia Symbian Installation Source (SIS) file.
    6. Dependencies – Deployment types that must be installed before another deployment type is installed.  An application can be configured to install all required dependencies that are not are required if they are not present.

    I expect there to be a lot of interest in this new software distribution model.  I’ll keep you posted on new developments.

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