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Managing a Windows Infrastructure

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This System Center video training with Greg Shields covers how to manage the infrastructure of Microsoft’s latest version of Windows, through topics such as deploying ConfigMgr clients and managing client settings, and more....
This System Center video training with Greg Shields covers how to manage the infrastructure of Microsoft’s latest version of Windows, through topics such as deploying ConfigMgr clients and managing client settings, and more.

Related Area of Expertise:
  • Microsoft System Center

Recommended skills:
  • Experience working with System Center Configuration Manager 2012, Windows Server, security, and networking experience in an enterprise environment
  • Basic knowledge of Microsoft SQL Server and Windows PowerShell knowledge, mobile device management, and application configuration
  • One to three years of experience supporting multiple desktop and server computers running the Windows Server OS in medium to large organizations

Recommended equipment:
  • Microsoft System Center 2012 Configuration Manager

Related certifications:
  • MCTS: Administering and Deploying System Center 2012 Configuration Manager

Related job functions:
  • IT professionals

How do you manage a Windows infrastructure? Installing applications by walking around is so 1990. Automation is the name of today’s game, and nothing spells Windows automation like System Center Configuration Manager. Automation has been called the Windows Administrator’s force multiplier. With the right tools, it enables a well-prepared administrator to monitor and enact change to exactly the right devices at exactly the right time.

Prepping you to use System Center Configuration Centers tools — and wield that incredible power is the reason behind this video course. This course delivers a broad and deep exposure into Microsoft’s ConfigMgr 2012. Greg has been working with ConfigMgr since its early days as SMS 2.0. Throughout the years, he has developed a second sense for managing Windows desktops and servers with this powerful toolkit. He shares from his personal experience in this course to deliver not only the science (what buttons to click), but also the art (why you should click them) of managing a Windows infrastructure with ConfigMgr 2012.

You’ll learn how to package and deploy software and virtual applications, as well as how to automate everything from individual configurations to entire OS deployments. You’ll learn the foundations of what you need to know for SCCM certification success, but you’ll also learn a few ConfigMgr best practices the consultants rarely share.

In a Windows world where clicking Next, Next, Finish is no longer good enough, smart IT professionals know that automation savvy is key to guaranteed employment. Join Greg in this ConfigMgr 2012 course and deep dive to develop exactly those skills that’ll make you the Most Valuable Professional of your own IT organization.
 show less
1. Introduction to System Center 2012, ConfigMgr 2012, and the 70-243 Exam (17 min)
2. Understanding the ConfigMgr Architecture and Components (13 min)
3. Preparing for and Installing ConfigMgr 2012 (40 min)
4. Setting Boundaries and Enabling Discovery Methods (25 min)
5. Deploying ConfigMgr Clients and Managing Client Settings (38 min)
6. Collecting Inventory and Creating Simple Collections (29 min)
7. Constructing Queries and Building Query-based Collections (35 min)
8. Creating and Managing Reports (24 min)
9. Packaging Software for Local Installation and Application Virtualization (30 min)
10. Software Distribution the Old Way: Packages and Programs (42 min)
11. Software Distribution the New Way: Applications! (49 min)
12. Deploying Operating Systems (66 min)
13. Deploying Software Updates (39 min)
14. Deploying and Managing Compliance Baselines (25 min)
15. Metering Software Usage (9 min)
16. Managing Forefront Endpoint Protection Settings (14 min)
17. Managing Mobile Devices and Securing Client Communication (51 min)
18. Monitoring and Managing Site and Client Status (26 min)
19. Implementing ConfigMgr Role-based Security (15 min)
20. Planning and Implementing a ConfigMgr Site Hierarchy (35 min)

Introduction to System Center 2012, ConfigMgr 2012, and the 70-243 Exam


Pushing patches, deploying applications, refreshing operating systems, controlling configurations, enforcing security policies, all with complete automation, and all without ever having to walk the halls of your business again. You're a Windows administrator, and you're about to experience the administrator's force multiplier, System Center Configuration Manager 2012.


My name's Greg Shields, and I've been working with Config Manager since the years back when it had a completely different name, SMS, or Systems Management Server. Back in those days, SMS also used to stand for Slow Moving Software. A lot's changed since back then, and today Config Manager has become one of the most powerful tools a Windows administrator can wield for managing your network and making sure you get home on time every night.


Now, while Config Manager's powerful, it's anything but easy. Over the next 20 Nuggets, we're going to spend a lot of time together. You're going to watch your head explode. But don't worry. We'll be picking up the pieces together, and reassembling them in a completely new way that'll focus your energies on complete automation for Windows.


It's not a lie. With a well constructed Config Manager infrastructure and a little bit of upfront effort, you can actually, honestly, create a Windows environment that almost never needs troubleshooting again. We're a long way from that point, and you've still got a lot of automations left to build.


But ultimately, that's our goal. Complete automation for Windows. You're going to learn what you need to get started in this series. I'm looking forward over the next 20 Nuggets or so to spending a whole bunch of time talking with you about how exactly you can successfully implement Config Manager 2012 in your infrastructure.


Now, this series talks about how it relates to the 70-243 exam. But don't worry if certification is not your goal. The goal here is really helping you understand exactly what you need to know for success with Configuration Manager. Very different than a lot of the books you can read, and a lot of the articles you can read out on the internet.


This series is designed to give you a soup to nuts, start to finish, all the way from design through implementation guidance for how you can implement Config Manager 2012. And also, at the same time, how you can implement it and use it with best practices.


As I said, I've been working with Config Manager now for going on a decade or more. And consequently, there are some smart ways to use Config Manager, and there also some ways in which you can use it and not really get the benefits that you were really hoping out of such a solution.


And so, in this series, what we're going to talk about is first and foremost what you need to know for the exam, but, more importantly, how you can make best use of this new technology in creating that environment of complete automation. Now, in this first Nugget, what I want to do is spend a little bit of time helping you understand just Configuration Manager, Configuration Manager in relation to System Center, and also the things you need to know for that 70-243 exam.


I want to start first by talking about just Configuration Manager as it relates to the greater scope of Microsoft certification. Right now, today, as of the release of this video and the series, the Config Manager certification is the 70-243 exam. And what that nets you when you pass is an MCTS, a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist certification, in administering and deploying System Center 2012 Configuration Manager.


Now, what's interesting is that, while the specific test that you can take as it relates to Configuration Manager is one that only nets you an MCTS, the information, the knowledge that you learn in this course and in this series is going to help you pretty dramatically when you get around to taking that MCSE Private Cloud certification that so many people are talking about today.


With the release of Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012, private cloud is becoming one of the major ways in which we can deploy an infrastructure. And the additional exams, after you pass the initial MCSA exams, these additional exams, 70-247 and 70-246, at a very high level look to Configuration Manager and the rest of System Center as the tool for facilitating delivering services atop a private cloud.


So, while neither of these exams specifically talk to Configuration Manager, or at least in the titles, the knowledge that you gain here will be extremely valuable, almost invaluable, in helping you achieve that MCSE Private Cloud. Now, with that in mind, there are a number of people in the intended audience that Microsoft suggests, or individuals that may probably do well on this exam.


And this is something I've gathered right off of Microsoft's website. This exam is designed for candidates that have System Center Configuration Manager 2012 experience, are comfortable with Windows Server, and also security and networking experience in an enterprise environment.


If you've spent any time with dealing with Windows, if you understand the registry, if you know how software installs, and if you're comfortable with the file system inside of Windows, you're going to do fairly well with the concepts that are necessary here with this exam and also with Configuration Manager in general.


I'm going to help you understand how you need to refactor your thinking to eliminate a lot of the manual steps that you go through in delivering services in your IT environment, and converting them into automated steps. So that once you accomplish a task once, you'll never really need to accomplish that task again.


Now, here also, we talk about how candidates should have some experience with basic SQL Server and Windows PowerShell. If you have really very fundamental understanding of Windows SQL Server, if you know how to install a database, that's probably the most that you're going to need at this point for being successful with this course.


I'm going to show you a couple of quick tricks, a couple little secret hints that I've developed over the years for how you can leverage SQL in generating some of these queries that you'll be creating out of Configuration Manager data. But don't worry if you've never done it before, because I'm going to give you the step by step process to accomplish it right here in the series.


Also in terms of Windows PowerShell. If you have a rudimentary understanding of Windows PowerShell, you'll do just fine with this series. We don't spend much time with PowerShell here in this series, but Configuration Manager runs on top of PowerShell.


And so, some of the commands-- in fact, all of the commands that exist in Configuration Manager can be accomplished also using PowerShell. Talk a little bit about mobile device management and application configuration experience. If you have never packaged software before, don't worry.


I'm going to show you some of the steps that you need to know to be successful in packaging software, no matter if we're talking about direct software installation or application virtualization. We'll even talk about how you can deliver mobile applications to the mobile devices on your network as well.


So, be prepared, because some of these Nuggets in this series are going to focus in on the art of using Configuration Manager, and not just the click by click science, again, giving you that value added over what you're going to find out of articles on TechNet.


Even if you're not a System Center Configuration Manager administrator, if you have experience with Active Directory, if you have experience with Exchange to a minimal amount, but mainly if you have experience with Windows Server, or even enterprise desktops, you're going to do just fine, again, with this series.


The world of IT tends to break down into IT people that tend to focus on servers and then IT people that tend to focus on desktops. And if you're the type of person that tends to focus on desktops and find that the management of desktops is where your interests lie, you'll be particularly well suited for some of the topics that we'll talk about here in Configuration Manager, whereas Configuration Manager can be used for managing your server infrastructure, the vast majority of Config Manager installations are used for managing and monitoring the desktop infrastructure inside an organization.


So, those desktop administrators are going to be very well suited for success here with Configuration Manager. Couple of notes on some of the statistics associated with the exam. Again, this is the 70-243 exam, and this is one of the new wave of exams that's been released with the System Center and Windows 2012 wave.


What's interesting about this wave is that Microsoft has actually taken a step back in terms of providing a lot of detail about the contents of the exam. Back in the day, we used to know how many questions you would receive on the exam, and how much time you would receive to complete the exam.


But these days, that information is just a little bit harder to gather because Microsoft is keeping that close at vest in order to protect the security of the exam. There are a couple of useful hints that Microsoft provides for how to be successful, and these are some that I've literally copied directly off of Microsoft's website.


Here in terms of scoring, there is no penalty for guessing on your score. If you see an answer, it's better for you to answer it than to leave it not answered, because you're not going to receive negative credit for an incorrect score. If there are multiple choice questions, which you will find multiple choice questions on these exams, well, if you end up not answering all of the correct selections, you're not going to get any credit at all.


Effectively, there is no partial scoring for any of these questions. Now, some of the questions-- and this is interesting-- not a lot of people actually know this, but some of the questions on the exam may not actually be scored at all. Microsoft occasionally will throw some questions on there that they're maybe trying to determine whether or not that question is a good question to ask in the future as a scored question.


And so, consequently, sometimes you'll end up with questions that aren't scored at all. And if you see something that doesn't really look right, don't sweat it. It may be one of those questions. Now, whereas we don't actually know much about the exam and how many questions that are out there, we do know that a passing score is set to be 700 out of a maximum of 1,000.


Now, that said, knowing that the passing score is 700 really doesn't give you a lot of information, because 700 does not necessarily mean that a passing score means passing 70% of the questions on the exam. Different questions will be given different weightings, and so at the end, when you end up with all the scores of the correct questions that you've answered, if your total ends up more than 700, well, then you've passed the test.


Down here at the bottom, we also talk about the fact that the exam is currently administered through Prometric. In order to take the exam, you'll have to go to prometric.com/Microsoft, give them $150, and then they'll set you up for the next available seating for taking that exam.


We have here in this series, we're going to spend a lot of time over the next 20 Nuggets or so talking about exactly what's necessary in order to go from having no Config Manager at all to having a complete and fully functional Configuration Manager infrastructure with all the roles set up and in place.


And so, in order to do that, what I've done is take the content that exists as it relates to System Center and as it relates to Config Manager 2012, and broken it apart into the types of topics or the types of activities that you will need to accomplish at various steps along your learning path.


And so, what we have here is a beginning that starts with this Nugget and also the next Nugget, where we talk a lot about actually just simply getting our architecture of Configuration Manager down and understood. You have to really understand what all the pieces are that make up a Config Manager infrastructure before we can actually ever go and install any of the pieces.


Now, once we accomplish that part, there's a couple of Nuggets here where we'll spend some time talking about installing, setting boundaries, deploying clients, and then collecting inventory. These four Nuggets are here to begin the very basics of getting the rudimentary Config Measure infrastructure up and running.


Once we finish these four Nuggets, we'll have everything in place, because we'll have our clients correctly connecting into their Config Manager server and delivering their inventory so we can begin creating queries and creating reports from that information.


With that information, then we go through a number of different Nuggets here where we talk about deploying. These Nuggets here, Nuggets 9 through 14, are all about enacting change on the clients that you have connected into your Config Manager infrastructure.


And we go through all the different areas in which change can actually be enacted on those clients. So, how do you prepare packages? How do you generate packages that can be deployed with Config Manager? How do you generate packages that can be deployed through App-V, which has now been baked into Config Manager?


How do you then distribute those via the old way using packages and programs, or the new way using applications? These two are actually created in the way that they are because the information you need to know in number 11 starts with the information you need to know in number 10.


Once we understand software distribution, next up is operating systems, and then the software updates via WSUS, then managing compliance baselines. And then, from that point on, we move into some of the more incidental topics in Configuration Manager, metering software usage, dealing with security settings, dealing with mobile devices, and managing your client and site statuses.


Finally, concluding with number 20 down here, which is where we take our single server and single site hierarchy and expand it out to however large we need our infrastructure to be. For most of this series, we're going to stick with a single server hierarchy, which is perfect enough for your demo environment, perfect enough for you to learn on.


And then, once we understand all the intricacies of Config Manager in operations, we then break that environment apart so that we can distribute it to a national organization, a multi-site organization, or even a global organization. With that series in mind then, we want to spend as much time as possible aligning the knowledge that we're learning and the knowledge that we're talking about really with the exam objectives.


And I can't stress enough that the point of this series is not directly there to help you with the exam, that what we're talking about relates very directly to exam objectives. And in fact, you'll find with each of these introductory sheets that we work off of, I have a little objectives item down there that I might not talk about.


But that should give you a clue for the content in that Nugget and where that actually relates in terms of the objectives you need to know for the exam. That said, while we're learning Config Manager, being aware of what the objectives are as well as what the load of those objectives and how much we need to know each objective is also important.


Recognizing that about 14% of the exam has to do with managing OS deployment, 14% with deploying applications, 11% with compliance settings, 12% with managing sites. All of these become fundamentally important as you go about going through your studying process to ensure that you're successful with that exam.


Again, with each one of these that you see here, I'll be showing you how each one of these down at the bottom of the screen, right at the beginning of each Nugget, how those relate to your path for studying. Now, if you've listened to any of my other CBT Nugget series, you know that sometimes we get just a little bit overboard with the number of virtual machines that are required in order to do anything with our CBTN network.


Now, with the single exception of, perhaps, the very last Nugget, and probably the 18th Nugget, we're talking about mobile devices, this is the entirety of the network that's required if you plan on following along. And I really recommend spending some time building yourself some virtual machines so you can follow along as you learn from what we're talking about here in this series.


And the good news about this is that, because there's only a domain controller, a Config Manager server, and a client for the vast majority of this series, well, you don't have to have an extremely powerful computer in order to follow along. If you have these three machines, well, you're going to do just fine for most of this series.


Finishing up, though, I want to thank you, once again, for spending time with me to learn about Configuration Manager. This is my 16th series for CBT Nuggets, and it's been a long, long history that I've had in helping people understand how to use Microsoft and other technologies.


Configuration Manager really is that administrator's force multiplier. I joke with people that, if you want to make sure that you never, ever, ever get terminated from your business, become the System Center person, because there's no better way to make yourself completely invaluable as a member of your IT organization.


I want to thank you once again. We're going to spend a lot of time together, and I look forward to it throughout this entire process. Welcome to CBT Nugget's mastering System Center Configuration Manager 2012, and preparing for that all important 70-243 exam.


Once again, I'm Greg shields. I hope this has been informative for you, and I'd like to thank you for viewing.

Understanding the ConfigMgr Architecture and Components

Preparing for and Installing ConfigMgr 2012

Setting Boundaries and Enabling Discovery Methods

Deploying ConfigMgr Clients and Managing Client Settings

Collecting Inventory and Creating Simple Collections

Constructing Queries and Building Query-based Collections

Creating and Managing Reports

Packaging Software for Local Installation and Application Virtualization

Software Distribution the Old Way: Packages and Programs

Software Distribution the New Way: Applications!

Deploying Operating Systems

Deploying Software Updates

Deploying and Managing Compliance Baselines

Metering Software Usage

Managing Forefront Endpoint Protection Settings

Managing Mobile Devices and Securing Client Communication

Monitoring and Managing Site and Client Status

Implementing ConfigMgr Role-based Security

Planning and Implementing a ConfigMgr Site Hierarchy

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