Microsoft released its System Center 2012 Suite in April of 2012. With this release came a much improved and very different version of Configuration Manager. Right off the bat, SCCM now has a native console, instead of running off a MMC, which has improved the stability of the console. It also puts Software Center (formally Advertised Programs) in a website.
So why should you migrate? What is the migration process like? How much planning do you need to do? Which objects can be migrated, and which cannot?
Before even considering migration, the official Microsoft documentation on migrating should be read and considered. It can be found here: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg682006.aspx. This guide gives a lot of good information.
As with any IT system, a lot of planning needs to go into this deployment. There are several key changes that must be considered. The first of these is that this is a true side-by-side migration. There is no upgrade path. This means that you will be maintaining two systems for a period of time. The extra time that this will take must be a consideration. One recommendation would be to “freeze” development of the 2007 system at a given point during the migration. This means no new packages, images, or anything except monthly patches.
Secondly, account access must be considered. To complete the migration, an account must be assigned to the 2012 site that has full administrator access to the 2007 site. This account gathers all of the data from the 2007 site. This account must also have rights to the 2007 site database.
Third, where is your image and software repository? If it is stored on a 2007 site server, it will need to be copied as well. The migration process can also only migrate images and packages that use a UNC path as their source path.
Fourth, is your environment optimized? Because this is a side-by-side migration, you can use the opportunity to analyze your environment and make improvements if needed. It can also be a good time to clean up old software packages, collections, and any other aged data.
Fifth, the SCCM client in 2012 relies heavily on Silverlight. Software Center and the Application web catalog are written using Silverlight.
A few terms change from 2007 to 2012. This is by no means a comprehensive list, just the highlights.
First, “Advertisements” no longer exist. They are now referred to as “Deployments,” and they are stored with the package or task sequence instead of in their own area.
Secondly, “Advertised Programs” is now “Software Center”. This is now a one-stop shop for software, updates, and operating systems. Certain client settings, that the administrator defines, can also be adjusted from Software Center. SCCM 2012 also allows for different client settings based on collection membership.
Third, collections are now either device-based or user-based. You can no longer have users and devices in the same collection. Collections are also organized into folders now, instead of having to put collections inside of collections for organization.
Packages and task sequences can be migrated. One consideration here is that if you use a 2007 site server as your software and image repository, these files will need to be moved and the source paths on all packages will need to be changed.
Collections can be migrated. Before migration, you must reconfigure collections that have both users and devices. These collections cannot be migrated with both. SCCM copies the membership rules that exist in 2007. During the collection migration process, you can elect to migrate advertisements, which will recreate them as deployments of your packages. Because of this, packages should be migrated before collections.
Security rights on objects cannot be migrated. The method by which access is granted to objects in 2012 is very different from 2007. Access is now granted based on your security role and security scope. You should read up on both of these concepts before migration begins.
A comprehensive list of objects that can and cannot be migrated can be found here: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg712991.aspx.
Microsoft provides a guide on a few different ways to migrate clients from 2007 to 2012. They are client push, group policy, manual installation, software advertisement, and software update.
The most popular method is client push (you must have client push enabled and setup for this method). With this method, you simply use 2012 to discover the clients that you have in 2007, and then push the clients to them. It is not recommended to do all clients at once. You should consult your network administrator and figure out the number of clients that will not overload your network.
When you push the client using 2012, it uninstalls the 2007 client and installs the 2012 client. If you use Forefront in SCCM 2007 and System Center 2012 Endpoint Protection in SCCM 2012, it will also uninstall Forefront and install Endpoint Protection.
The client upgrade process retains only the client’s unique identifier (GUID) and advertisement history. It does not retain inventory information, power schemes, settings for logs, or local policy settings.
The migration from SCCM 2007 to System Center 2012 Configuration Manager is a worthwhile endeavor. There are many new features and improvements in the entire system. It is also a great opportunity to reevaluate your environment to ensure that the system is optimized for your environment. I would encourage anyone who is currently running 2007 to investigate the move to 2012.