Define Process – SCCM Deployment Rings for Infra Upgrade

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SCCM Release Management Process

SCCM updates and Servicing got changed drastically in the last few years. I hear feedback from many SCCM admins that they don’t like four(4) months upgrade cycle of SCCM. It’s time to define a new process or revamp your existing process within your organization to remove the frustration about the SCCM upgrade. I will share my experience with SCCM Deployment Rings – SCCM Release Management Process in this post.

What Changed in SCCM Servicing?

SCCM infra upgrade used to happen once in one (1) year or two (2) years. Some organizations are still using SCCM 2007 under an extended support agreement with Microsoft. Even the release cycle of a new version of SCCM 2012 was also used to happen once in 2 years. You will learn more about the sample SCCM Release Management Process in the later part of this post.

Microsoft started releasing new versions of SCCM every four(4) months to cope up with Windows 10 servicing requirements. Microsoft release three(3) versions of SCCM in a year and two(2) versions of Windows 10. SCCM updates & servicing is a big change for all the organizations. They should redefine their internal release management process (SCCM Deployment Rings).

[Related TopicRelease Management Process Tips for Windows 10 Servicing]

Advantages of SCCM Updates & Servicing

As Brad Anderson mentioned in his post, the world is moving to SaaS (software as a service). SCCM is getting continuous updates via the SaaS model. The key to make SCCM as a SaaS product is updates & servicing model.

SCCM deployment rings - SCCM Release Management Process

New Features – This regular update provides regular updates to customers. SCCM is a modern device management solution with many new features getting released every month. The new features are the most significant plus point of SCCM servicing.

Intelligent Update Availability and Automatic Download – With new updates model, there is no need to download prerequisite files and updates from Microsoft website unlike SCCM 2012 and 2007. All the required updates (source files) for your SCCM infra will get downloaded automatically to SCCM server itself.

Continuous Improvement to Prerequisite checks – SCCM prerequisite checks are essential to reduce the upgrade failures in the production environment. The real secret behind the excellent success rate of regular SCCM upgrades is prerequisite checks. I think SCCM PG works based on feedback and telemetry data to improve prerequisite checks.

My Personal Experience of SCCM Updates and Servicing

I’m part of a team who manages 60K+ client base SCCM environment, and we do perform SCCM upgrade every six(6) months. The SCCM servicing/upgrade experience is very smooth, and we never faced any significant issues with frequent SCCM upgrades.

I have created a sample SCCM deployment rings for SCCM admins reference. Hope, this will help SCCM admins to go through SCCM upgrades with much more confidence. A proper SCCM release management process for infra and client upgrades is required.

SCCM Release Management Process – SCCM Deployment Rings

Following is the sample SCCM release management process with five(5) deployment rings. You should adjust SCCM deployment rings depending on your infrastructure and client requirements.

When you don’t have a development environment, you can upgrade the pre-prod (staging) environment with SCCM fast ring. Once the pre-prod environment is upgraded successfully, wait for SCCM slow ring release to upgrade the production environment.

Deployment ringsServicing BranchTotal Weeks of Delay
Ring 0 – PreviewSCCM CB TP (Technical Preview) versionsEvery month (Isolated personal SCCM) + 2 Days
Ring 1 – DevSCCM CB Prod Version (CMCB) – Fast RingCMCB Prod Version Fast Ring Release + 1 Week
Ring 2 – Pre- Prod (Staging) InfraSCCM CB Prod Version – Slow RingCMCB GA Slow Ring Release Date + 1 Week
Ring 3 – Pre- Prod – Client UpgradeSCCM CB Prod Version – Slow RingCMCB GA Slow Ring Release Date + 2 Weeks
Ring 4 – Production InfraSCCM CB Prod Version – Slow RingCMCB Slow Ring Release Date + 4 Weeks
Ring 5 – Production – Client UpgradeSCCM CB Prod Version – Slow RingCMCB Slow Ring Release Date + 4 Weeks onwards

 

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