Today Microsoft announced that System Center Configuration Manager will be available in a Long Term Servicing Branch (LTSB) version with support extending for 10 years.
Over the last year, Microsoft has been working hard at transforming System Center Configuration Manager (ConfigMgr) into a product that gets regular updates to keep pace with all of the updates in the products with which it must interact and integrate (E.g. Windows 10, Intune, iOS, Android, Widows Mobile, Exchange/Exchange Online, etc.) in order to bring the most value to administrators of PCs, Macs and Mobile devices.
ConfigMgr has transformed into an “As A Service” product from an operations and management perspective (although not from a purchasing and licensing perspective). That is to say that there are multiple product releases/updates each year. Each successive update is an easy in console update with minimal impact and down time.
ConfigMgr is using a system similar to the Windows 10 Servicing Branch model to identify
The new releases have been identified by a Year and Month designation in the form of YYMM. For example, the November 2015 release is known as version 1511, March 2016 is 1603 and June 2016 is 1606. The LTSB version of ConfigMgr is based on release 1606. Together these releases and future releases in the chain are referred to as Current Branch (CB)
Since this is essentially a static product that will not receive any feature enhancements, anything that has an external dependency on a product or service that is on a constant upgrade cycle would be difficult to support long term. As such some functionality and support has intentionally been removed, including:
- Support for the future releases of Windows 10 LTSB and Windows Server
- Support for Windows 10 CB/CBB
The ability to add a Microsoft Intune Subscription, which prevents the use of:
- Hybrid MDM
- On-premise MDM
- Windows 10 Servicing Dashboard and Servicing Plans
- Asset Intelligence
- Cloud-based Distribution Point
- Support for Exchange Online as an Exchange Connector
Who is this for?
Organizations that use the LTSB would be able to use ConfigMgr until 2026 with security updates. While Windows 10 Enterprise LTSB up to 1607 and Windows Server from 2008 SP2 up to 2016 will be supported, other versions of Windows 10 (CB, CBB, etc.) and newer version of Windows Server will not be supported. This version of Configuration Manager is not intended for most organizations. It is intended for organizations that do not have a current Software Assurance (SA) agreement in place with Microsoft for ConfigMgr. Without SA rights, these organizations would not be entitled to use the current branch of ConfigMgr.
By Colin Smith
Colin Smith is the Manager of the Microsoft Solutions Practice at Cistel Technology Inc. , a Microsoft Gold Partner headquartered in Ottawa, Canada. Colin is a frequent author and presenter. He is also a dual Microsoft MVP. He is an MVP for Enterprise Mobility (formerly System Center Configuration Manager) who has been working with the product since SMS version 1.0. He is also a MVP for Windows and Devices for IT. He has over 20 years of experience deploying Microsoft-based solutions for the private and public sector with a focus on mobile, desktop, cloud and data center management.