This year promises several major updates for SCCM. By using this guide, you can keep your environment healthy, ensure a smooth migration, and stay updated with the latest SCCM version.

What happened to SCCM 2016?

Configuration Manager, like many of Microsoft’s products, received a new naming convention with this release cycle. This convention should be applied eventually to all of the enterprise products. Instead of SCCM 2016, we simply have SCCM (or SCCM Current Branch).

Getting ready to install SCCM 1511

Getting ready to install SCCM 1511

A major version is attached that represents the year and month of the release. For example, 1511 was finished in November 2015. SCCM 1603 would be a release finished in March 2016. Frequent releases allow for consistent improvements and new features. We no longer have to wait three years for a needed feature to arrive!

What products can I upgrade to SCCM Current Branch?

In this guide, we will assume you are running SCCM 2012 SP1+ or SCCM 2012 R2+. If you are running SCCM, but not currently at this level, begin by upgrading to this step first. This guide will upgrade a standalone SCCM setup. Your cumulative update level does not matter for this upgrade.

If your environment has a CAS, multiple primary sites, or secondary sites, you can still use this guide. The only difference is that you will need to begin the upgrade at the root of your hierarchy and proceed down.

Preliminary steps to a SCCM 1511/16XX Upgrade

First, make sure your SCCM server has the latest version of the Windows Automated Deployment Kit (ADK) installed on it. Double check that you have both the latest build and version installed. If not (or if you are unsure), uninstall the older version — restart — install the new version — restart.

One of the biggest benefits of SCCM 1511 is the Windows 10 Servicing feature. Being able to easily see the various Windows 10 versions in your organization and your upgrade deployment circles is pretty awesome!

Windows 10 Servicing in SCCM 1511

Windows 10 Servicing in SCCM 1511

To use the Windows 10 Servicing feature, your Software Update Point will need to run on a Windows 2012+ server. You will also need KB 3095113 installed for upgrade deployments.

In the Configuration Manager console on your primary/CAS instance, open the About System Center Configuration Manager window. Note the site and console version that your environment currently runs. This will be used for verification later.

Before you begin the upgrade, review the complete upgrade list from TechNet. In particular, do the following:

  • Ensure your infrastructure’s site status and component status are OK.
  • Double check backups and run a test database upgrade against a backup of your SQL database.
  • Check for and resolve any pending restarts.
  • Close any open Configuration manager consoles

It is best for the upgrade to be performed on a non-peak schedule. You should speed up the installation by performing three steps. Start by downloading the upgrade media in advance. In the Volume License Servicing Center, search for Current Branch or System Center Config to quickly find the installation files. The second tip is to run the perquisite prerequisite checker in advance. The installation media will contain the standalone executable Prereqchk. Finally, download the additional setup and update files that SCCM will need during the upgrade. You can run Setupdl.exe (which is also in the installation files).

Upgrading your SCCM Infrastructure

This is actually the easy part of the process. An SCCM upgrade is a lot of upfront work, proceeding through a wizard, and a decent amount of finish work. On the top server in your Configuration Manager hierarchy, initiate the SCCM upgrade. When you get to the available setup options screen, choose Upgrade this Configuration Manager site.

Upgrading to SCCM 1511

Upgrading to SCCM 1511

Proceed through the wizard until you reach the Prerequisite Downloads window. If you have already downloaded the required updates, specify that download location now. If you didn’t download the updates in advance, you probably should re-read the section above, as you likely skipped other steps (like testing the database upgrade).

Continue through the wizard by accepting the default values. You’ll notice two new windows in the 1511 upgrade. First, Microsoft will begin collecting additional usage data. You must accept this to use SCCM Current Branch. The second addition is configuring the Service Connection point. This role will be used to provide future updates (16XX) to your environment. You can think of this as software updates for SCCM within SCCM.

You will now see the prerequisite check screen. Nothing new should show up here, as you’ve already run the standalone tool. Begin the actual upgrade now and wait. It took roughly 40 minutes in my test environment. As a precaution, I prefer to visually see each component complete installation before exiting the installation window.

Final Steps to an SCCM Upgrade

Hopefully, you’ve had smooth sailing getting here. Verify that your configuration manager upgrade has completed by opening the ConfigMgrSetup.log file on the root of the OS disk. The last few lines will indicate if your installation completed. If not, wait.

When everything is finished, open the Configuration Manager console on your upgraded server. You should see a new version, console, and site number. The screenshot below shows 1511 in a test environment.

SCCM Version 1511

SCCM Version 1511

If you use OSD in SCCM, you should redistribute your boot images and ensure that their ADK build version is the same as the ADK version on your server. If not, recreate the boot images. Any task sequence that incorporates the SCCM client for installation should be modified to deploy the new SCCM client.

Your other final steps are the same as previous CU or SP updates. You will need to proceed down your hierarchy and upgrade secondary sites. You also will need to deploy the updated Configuration Manager console and updated client versions. Instructions for deploying the SCCM Console can be found here.

Updating the client can be done by taking advantage of the relatively new automatic client upgrade feature. In the Configuration Manager console, navigate to Administration\Overview\Site Configuration\Sites. Right click on sites and select Hierarchy Settings. Select the client upgrade tab and ensure that Upgrade all clients in the hierarchy using production client is checked. Over the next week, keep a watch on your client health and site health. If desired, you can use client push to start updating the client immediately.

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The client upgrade feature in SCCM 1511.

The client upgrade feature in SCCM 1511.

With that, you are now at an upgraded SCCM infrastructure! If you have any questions or run into issues, leave a comment below. Have fun setting up all of the great features, such as the new software center, OS servicing, and the Service Point!


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