Administrators know that Microsoft’s System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) is a comprehensive tool for change and configuration management of its Windows platform. But, we also know that there are alternatives out there that perform as well as, if not better than, SCCM.
In this post, we will have a look at the six best SCCM alternatives for managing the patching and monitoring of small-to-medium as well as larger enterprise networks.
Here is our shortlist of the 6 best SCCM alternatives:
- SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor (FREE TRIAL) NPM is a popular product from one of the leading makers of server and network management solutions. It is a complete SCCM solution that comes with advanced features that outshine most competing products. Get a 30-day free trial.
- ManageEngine Desktop Central A tool for automating the complete endpoint management life cycle. It allows users to collaborate on ensuring the security of a network and the assets on it – all from a single integrated point.
- Ivanti UEM An SCCM alternative that manages all major operating systems during their entire life cycles; it handles migration, patching, reporting, and policy enforcement.
- Quest KACE Systems A comprehensive device management tool for a wide array of connected assets; discovery, reporting, and vulnerability scanning are all features of this highly-integrated SCCM alternative.
- Jump Cloud A tool for full control of connected devices that also helps with security and updating of software and operating systems; all controlled from a central location.
- Symantec Client Management Suite Another well-established management tool for patching, updating, monitoring, and securing applications and operating systems; it keeps track of the security of assets throughout their lifetimes.
Note: Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager and Systems Management Server (MSCCM) is now called Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager (MECM).
What is SCCM?
Microsoft SCCM is one of the most popular computer endpoint management systems used today. It is used for managing, deploying, and securing devices and applications across an enterprise.
The SCCM Agent feeds data to the console. Once the agent is active the tool can inventory hardware and software, distribute software, and initiate remote admin tasks.
This software management suite allows users to manage large numbers of computers and servers. It also helps with software distribution, operating system deployment, remote control, network protection, security management, patch management, as well as hardware and software inventory, and many other services.
SCCM allows for the setting of configurations and security policies, keeping software solutions updated, and monitoring system statuses while giving employees access to corporate applications from whatever devices they choose.
It is versatile: users can manage computers using macOS, Windows UNIX, or Linux, and mobile devices running iOS, Windows, or Android operating systems. It also integrates with Microsoft Intune to allow for the management of all the computers connected to a network.
They can manage PCs and servers, keep software updated, configuration and security policy settings, as well as monitor system statuses while allowing employees access to corporate applications using any devices that they choose.
On the other hand, SCCM provides a quick and easy overview of client settings, including running services and Agent settings in an insightful and easy-to-use user interface (UI).
What are SCCM’s outstanding features?
Users of SCCM find that it is a stable and flexible solution that has many outstanding features.
Let’s have a look at some of these features:
- Mass creation and deployment of computer images and distribution of silent installations of software solutions using a common software library.
- Preboot Execution Environment (PXE) booting allows administrators to boot a raw or un-configured computer against the SCCM environment to receive instructions for imaging.
- Mobile device management capabilities, including the ability to reboot or lock the devices remotely.
- The Task Sequences feature enables automation of tasks that include (but are not limited to) applying license keys, performing Active Directory joins, as well as software deployment.
- It can inventory hardware and devices on the entire network and proactively manage their life cycles, starting from purchase to retirement.
- End-users can use the Self-Service portal to update their devices at their convenience.
What are SCCM limitations?
As great as SCCM is, it does have some limitations. Here are some of them:
- Although SCCM does, to a certain extent, cater to imaging of non-Windows devices, it could still be a bit challenging to work in hybrid environments where operating systems like Linux and macOS are involved.
- Setting up a new SCCM infrastructure could pose a challenge because it is only available as an on-premises solution requiring self-management of servers.
- It is also an expensive solution as it comes with a larger suite of Microsoft solutions – throw in various licensing fees and it becomes a viable solution for larger enterprises only.
- This also means the client needs to install and maintain a full version of Microsoft SQL Server – another installation that needs expertise.
What to look for in an SCCM alternative
Features to look for when searching for alternatives to SCCM include:
- Various operating systems deployment, support, and several deployment options.
- Centralized management of infrastructure and devices.
- Full coverage of networks with features like remote control, management of compliance, and configuration of settings of devices.
- Critical features like software distribution, patch management, inventory control, management of updates, application deployment, and mobile management.
- The quality and administration capabilities of its UI and dashboards.
- Scalability to cover businesses as they transform from SMBs into larger businesses and enterprises.
- Reporting ability to present comprehensive data in insightful and interactive ways.
- The tool’s price when compared to SCCM.
We too have looked for these features in our selections of the six best SCCM alternatives in our list.
The Six Best SCCM Alternatives
Let’s now move on and have a look at the six best SCCM alternatives:
SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor (NPM) is a product from one of the leading makers of server and network management tools. It offers multi-vendor network monitoring that can scale and expand as a business network grows.
Some more key features:
- This cost-effective tool can be deployed in the cloud or on-premises, has real-time views, and also has an intuitive dashboard to monitor network performance, detect, and resolve issues before failures or crises occur.
- It has network insights and advanced alerting capabilities for deeper visibility.
- NPM has tools for automatic discovery, network path analysis (NetPath), cross-stack IT data correlation (PerfStack), Wi-Fi heat maps, as well as intelligent maps for easy troubleshooting.
- It is easy to use and provides network monitoring, link analysis, and network latency testing capabilities; it requires no additional training or experience to perform operations.
- NPM also provides fault, availability, and performance monitoring; administrators can quickly detect, troubleshoot, and fix network performance issues with minimal downtime.
- It can also monitor both logical and physical networks including the logical components of software-defined networking (SDN) environments including tenants, Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controllers (Cisco APICs), application profiles, and endpoint groups.
SolarWinds NPM is a complete network monitoring solution that comes with features that are above and beyond those included with SCCM. For example, it can scale up to a million elements per instance, depending on licensing.
This SCCM alternative is the best choice for companies anticipating growth, small organizations looking for a tool that can scale with them, or larger enterprises that need a solution to take care of their networked assets.
You can try SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor (NPM) through a free and fully functional 30-day trial.
2. ManageEngine Desktop Central
ManageEngine Desktop Central helps manage devices, servers, laptops, mobile phones, and Point-of-Sales (POS). It works with multiple operating systems including Windows, Linux, macOS, Android, and iOS.
This suite is an efficient Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) and security software that comprehensively addresses the requirements of business network administrators.
Let’s look at more features:
- Desktop Central is a tool for automating the entire endpoint management life cycle – it secures networks by automating the patch deployment of Windows, Mac, and the applications on them.
- Users can deploy software to endpoints with just a few clicks using over 4,500 predefined application templates.
- Imaging and deployment of operating systems can be done even though the device is online or offline.
- The tool brings the management of endpoints with a similar approach to managing both Windows 10 and mobile devices; this allows for the central configuration, management, and securing of mobile devices without the need for extra work.
- Users can collaborate on troubleshooting remote desktops and transfer files, record videos, and do much more.
- The tool comes with dozens of pre-defined configurations including Power Management, USB Device Management, and Security Policies; it can be further extended with the help of Endpoint Security Add-on which includes vulnerability assessment, application control, device control, BitLocker Management, and browser security.
- Software management is easy with Desktop Central – it offers templates for distribution that dictate what to install and install; it also has features for metering, license management, and blocking unauthorized software.
- Desktop Central can scan and detect missing operating system and application service packs and, in case there are any, automates the updating process.
- The tool even ensures security with the help of hardware policies to, for example, deny or control the usage of USB devices unless they have been whitelisted.
- It is a great collaboration tool as it allows teams to work on issue resolution with the help of file transfers, video recording, and many more useful features.
- It can also secure clients’ connections to the internet by filtering accessible websites, compliance with security standards (like STIG and CIS), and monitoring plug-ins, add-ons, and extensions that are being used by clients on the network.
Try ManageEngine Desktop Central for FREE.
3. Ivanti UEM
UEM can be used to manage devices at all stages of their entire life cycle – including onboarding, provisioning, securing, and decommissioning.
More features include:
- UEM is the tool for the everyday man – its dashboard and reports can be easily created to integrate business and IT data into insightful presentations with no coding or BI expertise required.
- It can manage and secure devices running Windows, Mac, or Linux operating systems – as well as iOS and Android devices – from the same dashboard; add-ons extend the tool’s capabilities.
- Administrators can save time while migrating or deploying the latest operating systems; even the ensuing updates are quick.
- The tool automatically discovers devices – and the applications and operating systems running on them – and uses the data to build insightful reports that can give details like users, device type, application types, and running services that can all be plotted in a comprehensive map of the entire IT landscape.
- Operating systems and applications are automatically patched to keep endpoints secure while infected or compromised devices are also automatically isolated to prevent security compromises.
- It helps enforce policy and privileges everywhere with a few clicks – and then discover and patch threats predictively and quickly.
- Discovered assets help uncover shelf-ware, ghost assets, and out-of-warranty assets – administrators can help avoid unnecessary purchases to lower expenses across IT software budgets.
Try Ivanti UEM for FREE.
4. Quest KACE Systems Management Appliances
Quest KACE Systems Management Appliances (SMA) offers a set of comprehensive management of connected devices like computers, mobile devices, servers, peripheral devices, storage devices, and connectivity devices – including those on the IoT.
SMA is a fully integrated solution for the management of endpoint systems – from deployment to retirement.
Some more features include:
- It discovers and registers all connected hardware and software assets.
- SMA helps with the securing and automatic patching of operating systems and applications as well as vulnerability scanning and security configuration enforcement.
- It has software usage reporting capabilities to help with better allocation of resources and management of license compliance.
- Administrators can block the installation of unnecessary or risky software and deny access to unauthorized hardware devices.
- The patching status of every device in the asset inventory is presented in the Security Dashboard for easy monitoring while the Patch Schedule Wizard allows for the creation of set patching timetables; the IT Asset Management (ITAM), meanwhile, keeps track of compliance statuses.
- It comes with an integrated service desk and a self-service portal for a better user experience (UX) at the endpoints.
- It also has a process template wizard that makes it easy to design and manage IT processes and approval workflows.
Try Quest KACE Systems Management Appliances for FREE.
JumpCloud Directory Platform is an SCCM alternative that enables IT admins to control both system and user management from a central location, beef up security using policies, enable full disk encryption, automatic updating of operating systems, and setting of screen-lock timers.
JumpCloud has even more features:
- Unlike SCCM, which lacks the capability for meeting the needs for system management in mixed-platform environments, JumpCloud delivers on this issue as a cloud-based solution that works with major operating systems like Windows, macOS, and Linux.
- This cloud-native platform makes it easy to manage patching and upgrading of both soft- and hardware.
- JumpCloud is a directory-as-a-service (DaaS) that performs system management as well as user management tasks to help administrators with access control and asset monitoring.
- It centralizes the control over the devices that are being used on a network as well as the identity and access of the users logging into the assets making it easy to achieve, and remain compliant with, security standards.
- Administrators can implement a wide range of configurations – including Zero Trust security – to implement secure access for all devices and solutions, and grant control based on user and group profiles, the devices they use, or the network they are from.
- All operating systems can be managed from a single cloud console using a single identity and credential making it a truly centralized management system.
- Administrators can create and execute command scripts – using a selection of languages – to monitor device health, create compliance reports, track installed applications, and remotely install software solutions on client endpoints.
Try Jump Cloud Directory Platform for FREE.
6. Symantec Client Management Suite – from Broadcom
Symantec Client Management Suite (CMS) is an administrator tool for managing, patching, and performing application and OS configurations for connected devices like desktops, laptops, and thin clients throughout their life cycle to strengthen endpoint security and optimize their production capabilities.
Some features of this tool include:
- CMS centralizes, and simplifies, the patch management of devices running major operating systems like Windows, macOS, and Linux.
- It helps with the detection and resolution of security vulnerabilities of the operating systems as well as the applications running on them.
- Administrators can automate the patching process for a quicker and more reliable securing of endpoints.
- All changes and issues are reflected in real-time in detailed compliance reports to help with informed decision-making regarding steps needed to protect and secure production endpoints.
- Mass deployment of operating systems and applications is easy thanks to the tool’s ability to create unique reference systems that allow for hardware-independent images to be replicated onto new or existing systems.
- It can scan and discover all the connected resources on a network which are then inventoried for automatic determination of updates and patches which are downloaded and installed directly from the vendors’ repositories.
- CMS collects, and reports on, information of each device on the network and allows for the control of the configuration of software and users based on set policies.
- It performs follow-ups on all software assets to ensure they remain installed, configured correctly, and are working as expected.
- The tool has a web-based UI that is browser-agnostic and helps administrators see everything they need to perform their jobs including search and view inventory details, run tasks remotely, and deliver or install software solutions on one or more endpoints.
Try Symantec Client Management Suite (CMS) by contacting Broadcom.
Installing SCCM alternatives is a wise decision
The six best SCCM alternatives we have seen all have one thing in common: they help keep connected software and hardware assets secure. They are indispensable solutions in today’s world of constant security breaches.
Any administrator would be wise to implement one of these tools as part of their overall IT security plan.
Let us know what you think. Do you have a personal choice? Have you tried one of these tools? Leave us a comment below.