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Microsoft Calls SCCM a 'Legacy' Product, Raising Questions About Its Future

A Microsoft article, now taken offline, has left the impression that System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) may be a dying product, at least within the company itself.

Earlier this week, Microsoft posted an article as part of its "Digital technical stories" series that offers case study-like examples of best practices. It described Microsoft's own shift from using SCCM and Group Policy Objects to Microsoft Intune and "modern management" for its fleet of "around 40,000 new devices each year." Microsoft subsequently pulled the article, though it's still available in a Google cache at this page.

Microsoft deemed SCCM to be a "legacy" solution, especially with the shift to provisioning and maintaining devices for its remote workers. Here's how the pulled article expressed it:

The legacy System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) required that any new device being added to the network had to be joined on-premises through a hardwired ethernet connection. That kind of requirement is increasingly unviable in the current and future remote work world.

Microsoft's switch to using Microsoft Intune also meant that it could dispense with "building and maintaining images," which it had to do using SCCM "on a monthly basis."

These images involved "files of 30GB or more," which took hours to download to employee machines, the pulled article explained.

The switch to using Intune was a gradual change for Microsoft. Initially, Intune lacked some of SCCM's capabilities. Intune also hadn't been designed to scale operations. However, those limitations changed "in late 2020."

"Now we have that parity," said Senthil Selvaraj, principal program manager for Microsoft Digital, regarding Intune's capabilities, in the pulled article.

Co-Management Use Dying at Microsoft
Microsoft had been using the co-management feature in SCCM for managing employee devices. Co-management lets organizations use Intune for some devices from within the SCCM interface.

However, "the use of SCCM co-management agent has been largely deprioritized" at Microsoft, the pulled article indicated. Co-management use by Microsoft will decline to "10 percent by July 2023" and will "naturally dwindle to zero," the pulled article stated.

SCCM Likely Not Dead Yet
The notion that SCCM is dead for Microsoft comes from former Microsoft employee Michael Niehaus, who issued a Twitter post to that effect in response to Microsoft's article. While not that controversial, the article likely did elicit fears that SCCM won't get supported as a product in the near future for Microsoft's customers. Possibly, that's why it got pulled.

Microsoft has been pushing Intune and modern management for devices for several years, but it typically has suggested that organizations have a choice with SCCM's co-management feature.

Many organizations use SCCM, though, and they likely get spooked when words like "legacy" get used by Microsoft to describe any Microsoft product. It tends to signal that Microsoft will stop supporting a product they've invested in.

However, SCCM isn't dead, according to this Twitter post, citing David James, director of engineering for Configuration Manager and Desktop Analytics at Microsoft. The Twitter post by Chad Simmons doesn't contain those words from James, though. It's just an interpretation by Simmons.

SCCM is one component in the System Center suite of management products. Last month, Microsoft indicated that System Center 2022 would arrive in the first quarter of next year. Microsoft also offers its Microsoft Endpoint Manager subscription service, which includes SCCM and Intune.

Likely SCCM isn't dead yet for Microsoft's customers. More System Center news likely will be expressed during the Microsoft Ignite event, which kicks off next week.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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