Joking aside (for a few minutes anyway)…

teamamerica3

The five (5) most common root causes for SCCM site issues that I’ve seen over the past year, working as a consultant.

  • Site scale:  (smallest) 500, (largest) 180,000
  • Site types: CAS (5%), Primary alone (85%), Primary with Secondaries (5%), None (5%) aka “new install”
  • Avg staffing: (IT dept) 12-24 (SCCM admin) 1
  • Avg coffee consumption: 1 cup per 30 minutes
  • Avg sleep: 5.2 hours

1 – Lack of planning before installing the environment

In the past year alone, I’ve run across almost a dozen sites which had a CAS and didn’t need one, or Secondary sites, and didn’t need them, and so on.  Some didn’t have a FSP and could’ve used one.  Some weren’t using the appropriate credentials for client installations, network access and so on.  And lately, many seem to have pinned their plans on outdated platforms, such as Windows Server 2008 R2 or SQL Server 2012.  At least keep them patched (e.g. SQL 2012 SP3 CU9)

2 – Lack of monitoring and following-up on warnings/errors

Of the last 24 customer engagements I’ve been involved with, roughly 60% do not keep a daily watch over site issues (sites, components, clients, content distribution, deployments, etc.).  Of those that do monitor, about half ignore lingering warnings which impact site performance.

3 – Lack of cohesive management

This varies by scale/size of the organization (at least in my world).   Often it’s a matter of job roles and organizational divisions.  For example, DBA’s controlling the SQL Server environment without allowing SCCM admins any direct access (very bad).  Or AD admins who drag their feet (or push back) on requests for schema extensions, keeping AD accounts “clean” and so on.  Or Network Admins who fight back against using PXE, no matter what the rationale.  In many cases, it rolls up to team managers who don’t work well together, so resolving conflicts and barriers is difficult, especially when the CTO or CIO prefer to avoid dealing with it.  My advise: deal with it!  The good of the company outweighs your stupid personal disagreements.

4 – Lack of keeping up on updates

Whether it’s the Windows Server, SQL Server, ADK, MDT or Configuration Manager itself, all of these require persistent support and oversight. Keep them patched.  But more importantly, READ THE PATCH details first.  Understand what’s being “fixed” or “modified” (or deprecated) as well as “known issues”.  You can save yourself a shit-ton (that’s a scientific measurement, by the way) of headaches and support costs by not blindly installing without understanding.  However, do not avoid patching simply because of fear and doubt.  You work in IT, which means “change” is inevitable and continuous.  It’s why the “soft” in “software” exists (trust me, Babbage wasn’t kidding around).

5 – Inefficient use of features

This one alone could be broken out into sub-categories actually, and now that I mentioned it, I will…

a – Ignoring features which are not fully understood (not doing research)

b – Continuing to use outdated methods (disk imaging, for one, like Acronis or Ghost)

c – Ignoring other System Center capabilities (SCOM, Orchestrator, etc.)

d – Not following “best practices” (excessive permissions on common accounts, incorrect client installation settings

e – Paying for 3rd-party products which SCCM (or other System Center) capabilities could provide (depends upon the individual requirements of course)

f – Ignoring 3rd-party products out of fear of the unknown (FUD)

g – Ignoring new features added with each build (current branch), such as Azure, OMS, UA, and mobile device features

h – [my peeve] Inefficient mapping of tools to processes.  Such as ignoring Group Policy in favor of doing everything in SCCM or via scripts. Continuing to use familiar solutions even when newer and better (cheaper, faster, more efficient, more reliable) solutions are available.

i – Insufficient use of Internet search tools (Google, Bing, etc.)

Did I miss anything?

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2 thoughts on “(Seriously) 5 Most Common SCCM Issues

  1. At what scale does an SCCM/SCOM deployment make sense? We have an IT team of 7 serving a corp. of about 200, including some international branch offices. Like to hear your thoughts!

    1. Holy crap am I slow to reply! I apologize. I usually respond much faster than this. You ask a great question, and this comes up VERY often with our sales teams. There’s a lot of variables that come into play. For example, scale of the environment, nature of the business, scale of the IT staff, budget, infrastructure limitations, in-house skill sets, desired functionality/capabilities, and everyone’s favorite: internal politics.

      I’ve had customers as small as 70 desktops, who have asked about SCCM. The typical rationale is that MDT+WDS still doesn’t provide for application deployment, nor hardware/software inventory reporting.

      I often end up steering them towards MDT/WDS and WSUS, and to other solutions, due to multiple issues (some of which I mentioned above), including the fact they couldn’t justify an EA (Enterprise Agreement) with SA (Software Assurance) on their budget. It was more cost effective and less of a “operational strain” for them to consider some third-party free/freemium tools, like PDQ Deploy, etc.

      I would expect Microsoft has some metrics from their telemetry to have a feel for the distribution curve of client environment scales (how many have X clients on SCCM, etc.). But I don’t have access to that. I can only comment on my limited access to the customers I deal with. The majority of our SCCM clients range from 500 to around 200,000 devices, with a median somewhere between 1000 – 2500. I would say 200 is right at the edge of that, so I would prefer to collect a lot of parameters and compile the pros/cons to make a business case for it. I hope that helps?

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