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  • Video: Microsoft MVP Greg Shields on System Center Configuration Manager SCCM – What’s next in the evolution of the system administrator.

    Interface Technical Training hosted a special SCCM: Planning, Deploying and Managing Microsoft ConfigMgr class with MVP Greg Shields on November 14-18, 2011.

    We sat down with Greg Shields to get his thoughts on various topics related to application management, virtualization, The Cloud, and System Center Configuration Manager.

    In this video, Greg shares his insights on what’s next in SCCM and the evolution of the administrator’s role.

    Below is the transcription of the video.

    Jason Helmick – Between the titans of virtualization (VMware and Microsoft) and all the Cloud efforts, you mentioned the importance about the users, their data and getting information to the users regardless of where they are. You also mentioned that we need to worry about security but right now we also need to consider what the desired result is.
    With Systems Center Configuration Manager (SCCM), a lot of us in IT remember it as the old SMS stuff – Slow Moving Software. But Configuration Manager is still a key component. Not only in helping the deployment to the user’s side, but also the deployment of the server side and the Cloud side as well.

    Greg Shields – When you look at the entire portfolio of Systems Center, there’s Operations Manager which is “what is stuff doing? / what are the behaviors?” Then there is Service Manager which is “how do I keep tabs on everything and provide automation?” While teaching the SCCM class this week, I’m begging to feel the age of Systems Center version 2007. In my opinion, there other things that do a better job than Configuration Manager does such as Group Policy Preferences. So honestly, it’s about time that we have a new version of Configuration Manager. What we’re seeing with SCCM version 2012 and what we will be able to do with this new version will bring an extensive configuration control and configuration management into the environment, from local environments to whatever environment Configuration Manager can touch.

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    Jason Helmick – I keep hearing from Developer friends of mine that they’re convinced that, from Visual Studio, they will be able to deploy web farms and SCCM will deploy all the “magic”… basically saying “we won’t need you anymore”. I personally think they will still need us for a while, even with the future of SCCM. What do you think the job role of a configuration manager will become?

    The admin role never goes away; it’s just where are you administrating things? Think about it, there are still a lot of people who are concerned about the Cloud. Honestly, there is a lot of concern about the security in the public Cloud because it’s still being figured out. There is an evolution to the entire model of trust that’s involved with the movement to the Cloud. They think “I may not own it but it’s okay because they have my interest at heart, even if it’s just financial.” The Configuration Manager and entire Systems Center suite is going to facilitate the administrator in making the right decision to questions such as “do I host it locally or out in the Cloud?”, “how do I take these services and deploy, manage and deal with them throughout their entire lifecycle?” and “how do I do all this in a measured way while managing the configuration?”

    So, from the administrator’s perspective, your job is not going away. I joke with them by saying “you’re going to lose your job but you’re not going to lose your line of income. Where you get your paycheck from may not necessarily be lost. But what you do in the coming years will become substantially different than what you do today and that’s okay.” There’s a bunch of old “punch-card” people that had to find something else to do and that’s okay. The evolution takes time and the IT industry is changing again but it’s a slow process.

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    One of the joys of my job is getting to talk with many venders and students and see this evolution over an extended period of time. As it evolves, it stays the same… Once we embrace that change is coming, I think people will grow comfortable with the fact that we’ll be doing things differently in the coming years.

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