A member of the Microsoft System Center suite of management solutions, System Center 2012 Configuration Manager increases IT productivity and efficiency by reducing manual tasks and letting you focus on high-value projects, maximize hardware and software investments, and empower end-user productivity by providing the right software at the right time. Configuration Manager helps you deliver more effective IT services by enabling secure and scalable software deployment, compliance settings management, and comprehensive asset management of servers, desktops, laptops, and mobile devices.

Configuration Manager extends and works alongside your existing Microsoft technologies and solutions. For example:

In addition, Configuration Manager can integrate with Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), Network Access Protection (NAP), Certificate Services, Exchange Server and Exchange Online, Group Policy, the DNS Server role, Windows Automated Installation Kit (Windows AIK) and the User State Migration Tool (USMT), Windows Deployment Services (WDS), and Remote Desktop and Remote Assistance.

To be successful with Configuration Manager, you must first thoroughly plan and test the management features before you use Configuration Manager in a production environment. As a powerful management application, Configuration Manager can potentially affect every computer in your organization. When you deploy and manage Configuration Manager with careful planning and consideration of your business requirements, Configuration Manager can reduce your administrative overhead and total cost of ownership.

Use the following sections to learn more about Configuration Manager:

Configuration Manager Management Capabilities

The following table provides details about the primary management capabilities of Configuration Manager. Each capability has its own prerequisites, and the capabilities that you want to use might influence the design and implementation of your Configuration Manager hierarchy. For example, if you want to deploy software to devices in your hierarchy, you must install the distribution point site system role.

Management capability Description More information

Application management

Provides a set of tools and resources that can help you create, manage, deploy, and monitor applications in the enterprise.

Introduction to Application Management in Configuration Manager

Compliance settings

Provides a set of tools and resources that can help you to assess, track, and remediate the configuration compliance of client devices in the enterprise.

Introduction to Compliance Settings in Configuration Manager

Endpoint Protection

Provides security, antimalware, and Windows Firewall management for computers in your enterprise.

Introduction to Endpoint Protection in Configuration Manager


Provides a set of tools to help identify and monitor assets:

  • Hardware inventory: Collects detailed information about the hardware of devices in your enterprise.

  • Software inventory: Collects and reports information about the files that are stored on client computers in your organization.

  • Asset Intelligence: Provides tools to collect inventory data and to monitor software license usage in your enterprise.

See the following documentation:

Operating system deployment

Provides a tool to create operating system images. You can then use these images to deploy them to computers that are managed by Configuration Manager and to unmanaged computers, by using PXE boot or bootable media such as a CD set, DVD, or USB flash drives.

Introduction to Operating System Deployment in Configuration Manager

Out of band management

Integrates with Intel Active Management Technology (Intel AMT), which lets you manage desktop and laptop computers independently from the Configuration Manager client or the computer operating system.

Introduction to Out of Band Management in Configuration Manager

Power management

Provides a set of tools and resources that you can use to manage and monitor the power consumption of client computers in the enterprise.

Introduction to Power Management in Configuration Manager


Provides a tool to retrieve information about resources in your hierarchy and information about inventory data and status messages. You can then use this information for reporting or for defining collections of devices or users for software deployment and configuration settings.

Introduction to Queries in Configuration Manager

Remote control

Provides tools to remotely administer client computers from the Configuration Manager console.

Introduction to Remote Control in Configuration Manager


Provides a set of tools and resources that help you use the advanced reporting capabilities of SQL Server Reporting Services from the Configuration Manager console.

Introduction to Reporting in Configuration Manager

Software metering

Provides tools to monitor and collect software usage data from Configuration Manager clients.

Introduction to Software Metering in Configuration Manager

Software updates

Provides a set of tools and resources that can help you manage, deploy, and monitor software updates in the enterprise.

Introduction to Software Updates in Configuration Manager

For more information about how to plan and install Configuration Manager to support these management capabilities in your environment, see Introduction to Site Administration in Configuration Manager.

The Configuration Manager Console

After you install Configuration Manager, use the Configuration Manager console to configure sites and clients, and to run and monitor management tasks. This console is the main point of administration and lets you manage multiple sites. You can use the console to run secondary consoles to support specific client management tasks, such as the following:

  • Resource Explorer, to view hardware and software inventory information.

  • Remote control, to remotely connect to a client computer to perform troubleshooting tasks.

  • Out of band management, to connect to the AMT management controller on Intel AMT-based computers and perform power management operations or troubleshooting tasks.

You can install the Configuration Manager console on additional server computers and workstations, and restrict access and limit what administrative users can see in the console by using Configuration Manager role-based administration.

For more information, see the Install a Configuration Manager Console section in the Install Sites and Create a Hierarchy for Configuration Manager topic.

The Application Catalog and Software Center

The Configuration Manager Application Catalog is a website where users can browse for and request software. To use the Application Catalog, you must install the Application Catalog web service point and the Application Catalog website point for the site.

Software Center is an application that is installed when the Configuration Manager client is installed on Windows-based computers. Users run this application to request software and manage the software that is deployed to them by using Configuration Manager. Software Center lets users do the following:

  • Browse for and install software from the Application Catalog.

  • View their software request history.

  • Configure when Configuration Manager can install software on their devices.

  • Configure access settings for remote control, if an administrative user enabled remote control.

For more information about the Application Catalog and Software Center, see the Deploying Applications in Configuration Manager section in the Introduction to Application Management in Configuration Manager topic.

Configuration Manager Properties (Client)

When the Configuration Manager client is installed on Windows computers, Configuration Manager is installed in Control Panel. Typically, you do not have to configure this application because the client configuration is performed in the Configuration Manager console. This application helps administrative users and the help desk troubleshoot problems with individual clients.

For more information about client deployment, see Introduction to Client Deployment in Configuration Manager

Example Scenarios for Configuration Manager

The following example scenarios demonstrate how a company named Trey Research uses System Center 2012 Configuration Manager to empower users to be more productive, unify their compliance management for devices for a more streamlined administration experience, and simplify device management to reduce IT operating costs. In all scenarios, Adam is the main administrator for Configuration Manager.

Example Scenario: Empower Users by Ensuring Access to Applications from Any Device

Example Scenario: Unify Compliance Management for Devices

Example Scenario: Simplify Client Management for Devices

Next Steps

Before you install Configuration Manager, you can become familiar with some basic concepts and terms that are specific to Configuration Manager.

When you are familiar with the basic concepts, use the System Center 2012 Configuration Manager documentation to help you successfully deploy and use Configuration Manager. For more information about the available documentation, see What’s New in the Documentation for Configuration Manager.

See Also