Goodbye SCE – I never liked you anyway
Last summer, I started using Microsoft System Center Essentials 2010, primarily for its software distribution functions. Aimed at small- to medium-sized networks, it’s ideally placed for use in school. Like almost every System Center product I’ve used, it wasn’t the simplest thing in the world to set up, but once working, it works reasonably well.
Well, except for…
- … taking sodding ages just to load the console.
- … not being able to accurately target x64 .msi packages to only install on x64 clients.
- … .exe install packages that won’t reinstall if you manually remove them from the client (.msi packages do).
- … the various times I investigated errors from System Center in the Event log on the server, only to find the error was bogus and had been in the product for years without being fixed.
- … all the times I’d look in the console and see a report that half my computers weren’t up to date on updates, only to check them and find they were.
- … every time I tried to remotely trigger Windows Update on a group of machines, only to be told that it couldn’t be triggered on any of them because a single machine was offline (when often it was, but SCE doesn’t perform any realtime checking of client machines, it just waits for the remote agent to report in).
- … that I recently found out that when you delete software packages, it doesn’t actually remove the files from your WSUS server. When I tracked down all the undeleted files that had been left on my WSUS server, I freed up nearly 8GB spread over more than 70 deleted packages.
- … the article from Microsoft I read a few weeks ago in which they stated that the Virtual Machine Manager components of SCE 2010 will not be updated to support RemoteFX or Dynamic Memory Management.
- … the fact that on top of everything above, even my end users had been noticing some odd performance issues with the older machines, which when I investigated them, were down to the MOMAgent.exe consuming 50%+ of the CPU time for around 10 mins at a time.
Eventually, I’d had enough. So when I heard about Local Update Publisher recently, I saw my chance. Local Update Publisher is a simple, lightweight tool that essentially replaces the software install functionality in SCE that adds custom install packages to WSUS. It’s a lot like System Center Update Publisher, except you can actually approve the updates instead of just publishing them for later approval in SCCM. What’s more, it does a better job of it. The package detection rules are superior to SCE, even for .exe installs, and if you remove a package, it actually removes it. Best of all, its free.
LUP doesn’t replace all of SCE’s functionality, but it replaces the bit I actually care about. SCE’s time had come, and over the Easter break, I removed all the client agents, and uninstalled it from the server. I haven’t looked back since.