Welcome to the SCCM deployment tutorial. Software deployment involves steps that have to be followed to make the software or its updates available to the users. To meet the changing demands of the customers, almost all the software or applications comes with updates. Updates might also get released to fix some bugs. They have to be deployed with a combination of manual and automated processes. SCCM is a popular tool that is used by many companies for deploying applications and software. In this post, we will provide you a basic understanding of SCCM deployment. You can learn what SCCM is, deployment types, and how you can deploy software using SCCM.
System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) is a product from Microsoft that allows managing Windows,Linux,Unix, macOS systems, and mobile operating systems as well.It is a software management suite that includes patch management, operating system deployment, remote control, and many more. The latest stable version of SCCM was released on April 1st, 2020.
SCCM controls both software updates and application installations. It simplifies distributed deployment on remote systems over the internet. We can install the software manually or automatically on specified target systems. We will have a single management console through which we can configure everything. We can configure the manager on how and when to install the software.
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Below are some of the advantages of SCCM.
For the applications that we want to install, we have to create packages in the SCCM console that contains the executable files.These packages are replicated on distribution points. SCCM maintains some distribution points for particular regions. The distribution points are servers that store the content of the packages. The machines located remotely download the package from the nearest distribution point instead of connecting all the way to the SCCM Primary Server.
Each machine connected to an SCCM environment will have an SCCM client installed on them. This SCCM client helps in connecting to the SCCM server. The SCCM client keeps on checking for new policies or deployments. When it identifies a new policy, it will download the package from its respective regional distribution point. The files are downloaded to a temporary location and then installed. The status of the installation is sent back to the SCCM Server.
SCCM provides a variety of deployment types that support the deployment of various applications.
Windows Installer - .msi file
Windows app package - .appx and .appxbundle files
Microsoft Application Virtualization 4 - App-V v4 package file
Microsoft Application Virtualization 5 - App-V v5 package file
Windows Phone app package - .xap file
Windows Phone app package from Windows phone store - Links directly to the app in Windows Store
App Package for iOS - .ipa file
App Package for iOS from App Store - Direct link to iOS app in Apple Store
App Package for Android - .apk file
App Package for Android on Google Play - links to the app in Google Play store
Mac OS X - .cmmac file
Web Application - link to the web application
Windows Installer through MDM - deploy .msi apps to Windows 10 devices
Open SCCM and navigate to the home tab. Click on ‘Create Application’ to create a new application for the software. Give the name, manufacturer, version details. You can give additional comments on the application and click on ‘Next’.
The next step is ‘Create User Collection’ to add a user group. Add rules that you want to set for the deployment. Select the target distribution group. Click on ‘Next’ to complete the settings.
Next, you will get the ‘Deployment Settings’. Set the ‘action’ field to ‘install’ and ‘purpose’ field to ‘available’. Check the 'Require administrator approval if users request this application' option. Click on ‘Next’ to finish the settings. The software will be deployed on the target machines. You can view the deployment details on the deployment completion page.
Software updates in SCCM
Updates to any application or software are very important as they fix bugs and add new features to the existing software. In general, deploying updates is a very complex task. It is very easy to deploy software updates in SCCM. It also makes it easier to gather the deployment reports as well. It provides a set of tools to deploy software updates. We have three methods to deploy software updates in SCCM.
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Open the SCCM console and click on 'Administration'. Click on 'Site Configuration' and select the 'Sites' option. Click on 'Add Site System Roles' on the ribbon menu. You will get a pop-up with 'Add Site System Roles Wizard'. Check the 'Software Update Point' checkbox and click on 'Next'.
Select the 'WSUS is configured to use ports 8530 and 8531 for client communications' radio button and click on 'Next'. Select the account that you want to connect to the WSUS server and click on 'Next'. Select the 'Synchronize from Microsoft Update' radio button and click on 'Next'. Click the 'Enable synchronization on a schedule' checkbox. Select the 'Simple schedule' radio button. Check the 'Alert when sync fails on any site in the hierarchy' checkbox and click on 'Next'.
The next step is to select the 'Immediately expire a superseded software update' radio button and click on 'Next'. We have to select the type of classification for updates. Select the 'Critical Updates', 'Definition Updates', and 'Security Updates' checkboxes. Click on 'Next'. Choose all the products that you want to synchronize and click on 'Next'. Choose 'English' as the desired language and click on 'Next' to finish the settings. Now the installation will start, and you can see the installation status in the progress bar. Once the software update point role installation is complete, click on 'Close'.
Open the SCCM console and click on 'Software Library'. Expand 'Application Management' and then expand 'Packages'. Right-click on it to create a new folder. Right-click on the created folder and select the 'Create Package' option. This opens up the SCCM package creation wizard.
Enter all the required package information. Select the 'This package contains source files' checkbox and enter the network location of the image folder. Click on 'Ok' and then click on 'Next'. Select the 'Standard program' type and give the command line information. Set the 'Run' field to the 'hidden' option. Choose the 'Whether or not a user is logged on' option for 'Program can run' field and click on 'Next'.
Leave the 'Run another program first' option unchecked. Select the 'This program can run on any platform' option for the 'Platform requirements' field. Select the 'Unknown' option for the 'Estimated disk space' field and click on 'Ok' to finish.
Click on 'Software Library', expand the 'Operating Systems' in the left-side menu, and right-click on 'Operating System Images'. Select the 'Add Operating System Image' option to open the wizard. Give the path of the install file and click on 'Next'. Give the name and the version details. Click on 'Next' and then click on 'Close'. You can see the image package showing in the Operating System Images.
Right-click on the image package and select the 'Distribute Content' option to open the wizard. Click on 'Next'. Choose the 'Distribution Point', select the point checkbox, click on 'Ok'. Click on 'Next' and then click on 'Next' again.
Click on the 'Test Sequence' on the left-side menu. Right-click on 'Test Sequence' and select the 'Create Test Sequence' option to open the wizard. Choose the 'Install an existing image package' option. and click on 'Next'. Give a name and description for the test sequence. Browse the boot image and click on 'Next'. Choose the image package created earlier and click on 'Ok'. Uncheck the 'Configure task sequence for use with ExtLocker' checkbox. Enable the account and specify the local administrator password. Click on 'Next'.
Choose the 'Join a domain' option. Browse and select the domain and domain OU. Specify the Windows user account name, password, and click on 'verify' to check if it's working or not. Click on the 'Test Connection' button. If the popup says that the connection is successful, click on 'Ok' and click on 'Next'. Verify the package details and click on 'Next'. Uncheck all the options in stage migration and click on 'Next'. Choose the 'Do not install any updates' option and click on 'Next'. Click on 'Next, and you will get a summary of all the configuration performed till now. Click on 'Next', and the test sequence creation is complete.
The next step is to deploy the test sequence that we have created now. Right-click on it and select 'Deploy' option. Browse the collection, select 'All Unknown Computers' and click on 'Ok'. Click on 'Next'. Choose the 'Configuration Manager clients, media, and PXE' for 'Make available to the following' option. Click on 'Next' until you get the 'Distribution Points' screen. Check the boxes for 'When no local distribution point is available, use a remote distribution point', and 'Allow clients to use distribution points from the default site boundary group' options.
Click on 'Next', and you will get a summary of all the options configured till now. Click on 'Next' and then on 'Close'. Now, when you boot your machine which is configured under servers, it will load the files from SCCM, and shows the test sequence that we created in the SCCM console.
The deployments through SCCM help the IT teams in maintaining the applications in sync in all the systems connected over the corporate network.The phased deployment will help deploy software as a pilot to a few target systems.Then we can carry out the rollout of the software to all the systems. Major clients like Archrock Inc,Edgewood College, Schiff Hardin LLP, and others have been using SCCM for their software deployments.
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