ConfigMgr R2 continues to make its way toward RTM – have you downloaded and installed it yet? R2 definately has a great list of features sure to be of great interest for many ConfigMgr users. A brief list below…
Application virtualization, the integration of Softgrid technology into ConfigMgr, is a new approach to software distribution that allows applications to be distributed and run locally on a client without really being installed on the client at all. Rather, the application is run in a virtualized environment on the client. To the end user, there is no visible difference – the experience using the application is the same. To the admin, virtualizing an app allows for greatly reduced testing time because there is reduced concern about application conflicts as a result of the new app. With application virtualization, for example, applications that could never be run simultaneously in the past can now be run side by si9te. Office is a good example. Say you are want to upgrade from Office 2000 to Office 2003 but want to allow both applications to be available for a period of time as users become accustomed to the newer version? Not possible prior to virtualization because the two versions of Office use competing registry keys and can’t co-exist. With virtualization this is totally possible – the Office 2000 install will have no idea about the fact Office 2003 is also running – and vice versa.
Client Status Reporting
In the ongoing effort to ensure good detection and reporting of client health the new client status reporting tool is introduced. This is a stand alone tool that runs and monitors clients to ensure various components are working and timely – such as inventory, discovery, etc. The tool further monitors client policy retrieval, client availability through ping testing, etc. Definately worth a look!
Support for multicast delivery of images through OSD has been a common request for a while – R2 adds this ability. Multicast operates in two modes, autocast and multicast mode. The idea of multicasting is that the source server can queue up an image for delivery – when a certain minimum number of systems ‘join’ the multicast session or when a timeout interval expires, the image broadcast will begin. Subscribing systems will consume the image as a unit, thus reducing required bandwidth for image delivery. The other option, autocasting, is similar except that imaging systems can join the session at any point – if the image is 20% delivered when a system joins the stream, it will download the image from 20% on to 100% and then the stream will start again to deliver the initial 20%. Still a good impact on more efficient bandwidth usage but not as good as multicasting.
Forefront Client Monitoring
A new DCM configuration pack for managing forefront clients is also shipped with R2.
Unknown computer support
For security reasons, the ability to deliver images to ‘unknown’ computers (systems that are not listed in the ConfigMgr database) was disabled in OSD at RTM and SP1. Because there are some specific scenarios where supporting deployment to unknown computers is required this ability has been made optionally available again in R2. Be careful with this option – when unknown computer support is enabled any system that PXE boots will potentially receive an image without any regard for the operating system that is current on the hard disk of the system. This could lead to lost data and frustrated users! Only use this option when specifically needed.
When using the ‘run command line’ option of the task sequence wizard it would be useful sometimes to be able to execute the command line as a specific user account rather than executing under the context of the task sequencing environment. R2 adds the ability to run a command line as a specific user!
SQL Reporting Services
Reporting in ConfigMgr now gives you the choice of continuing with the tranditional reporting environment or going with the newly supported SQL Reporting Services (SRS) solution. Using SRS requires report conversion but, once done, reports operate just as they did in standard reporting but now through the SRS engine. All SRS interactions, including subscriptions, can be handled from the ConfigMgr UI with no need to access SRS directly.