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We are currently looking into using either LANDesk Management Suite (LDMS) 9.0 or Microsoft's SCCM 2012 for Windows OS deployment and management.  The fine folks at LANDesk have told me that SCCM actually costs more than LANDesk because it is necessary to buy third-party software to get SCCM to do everything that LDMS does.  They also claim that SCCM takes more staff-time to manage.  And they claim SCCM will use more server hardware than LDMS.  Are they correct?

SCCM users:

1.  Have you had to purchase third-party software to do things like remote patching/updating of non-Microsoft software with SCCM?

2.  Do you have a full-time staff person dedicated to administering SCCM, as LANDesk claims we will need?  If not, what fraction of a person's time is taken up by SCCM?

3.  How many servers are you using to run SCCM?

4.  How many nodes is SCCM supporting?

5.  Any other thoughts/comments about the real cost of SCCM?


Jeff Conrod '92
Desktop Services Consultant
Information Technology Services
Macalester College
1600 Grand Avenue
Saint Paul, MN  55105

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Message from

Hi Jeff,

Good questions, all. We went through them before our new management solution implementation. We ended up deciding upon Config Manager 2007 (our implementation was over the summer of 2010, we're now going to go to 2012 this summer).

I'll answer your questions in the order you asked them! :)
  1. No, we've purchased no third party software. We use basic WSUS on campus for deploying Microsoft updates and didn't deploy ConfigManager's Software Updates features. However, we are re-evaluating that for the 2012 edition as they have made automation of this process much easier. As far as keeping third party software up-to-date, you can do all that with SCCM easily. Again, 2012 will make this even easier with their new "Application" model of software deployment. You can use all kinds of software rules and conditions to keep things up-to-date. There is also the "System Center Updates Publisher," or SCUP for short, that allows you to integrate update catalogs from third party companies like Adobe and deploy them like Windows updates. A little more work to get going for sure, but something that could be worth it and is also a free add-on for Config Manager.
  2. We don't have a full time staff person dedicated to Config Manager at UNI. I'm primarily the lab manager but I do most of the maintaining of the Config Manager system too. I have one backup in our server group who helps manage the server for me (updates, backup the SQL db, etc). I'd say I spend 20% of my time on running Config Manager for campus vs. the rest of the time using it for my own needs in the computer labs. When we first implemented, this percentage was higher as I coordinated and provided training on its use for all of campus.
  3. We're running Config Manager on 2 servers. One hosts the primary site and all associated roles, the other is essentially a box full of disk to house OS images, software packages, and the like (called a "distribution point"). Remember, Config Manager is essentially a SQL application, so you need something beefy behind the DB, but otherwise, you can run it all from one box if you like.
  4.  Our Config Manager currently has 3,000 machines actively reporting to it, with the potential for another 2,000-3,000 on campus. Our current setup would handle this additional load easily.
  5. Config Manager is easy to learn the first 20% of the functionality (deploying simple software packages and simple OSes) and beyond that, there is a bit of a learning curve (custom reports require a bit of SQL knowledge, etc). Half the battle is knowing which log file to look in for what.
Overall I love Config Manager and wouldn't use anything else at this point. We're already such a Microsoft shop at UNI that it made sense to utilize the Microsoft tools for management. Please feel free to get in touch with me offline if you have any further questions or want any more information!


Ben Arnold | Support Services Coordinator
Information Technology Services
University of Northern Iowa

Innovative Teaching & Technology Center 108
Cedar Falls, IA  50614-0301
Office: (319) 273-2419