Two new SCCM add-ons for advanced IT management

Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager tools fit the bill for small shops, but enterprises may have to spring for third-party SCCM add-ons.

Built-in Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager tools suffice for small IT shops, but large companies with complex management needs may have to invest in SCCM add-ons.

Two recently released System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) tools go above and beyond Microsoft's built-in capabilities. Adaptiva's OneSite 4.0 software, available since May, improves network performance and offers unlimited scalability for OS deployments in large organizations. Start-up Cireson released the next version of its portal for Microsoft Service Manager and an HTML Knowledge Base last month.

One Site includes the ability to enhance WAN network performance and run concurrent OS images. The software also includes support for the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface for Windows 8.

One IT administrator with a U.S. tire manufacturer who relies on Adaptiva's OneSite product said it eliminates server administration tasks and ensures network traffic is optimal.

"We have servers we need to manage to have data to replicate across the network," the IT administrator, who requested anonymity, said. The software inspects the routers, balances the network traffic and delivers files in a timely fashion to end users, he said.

The administrator has not rolled out OneSite 4.0, but plans to plans to try the new release.

OneSite 4.0 is included for customers who pay the annual maintenance fees. The list price is $17/user for new customers.

Cireson, meanwhile, released its second version of the Cireson Self-Service Portal for System Center. The product acts as a complete replacement for Microsoft's Self Service Portal for Service Manager. It also includes an analyst portal, which is browser-friendly and does not require SharePoint. Asset management features track the lifecycle of hardware and software. Cireson also offers an Outlook add-on, which brings Service Manager features directly into the mail client.

The Cireson Self-Service Portal is priced at $10,000 to $50,000, depending upon the size of the organization and number of devices running, a company spokesperson said.

Cireson's HTML 5 web portal "blows everyone away," said Scott Whittier, a reference customer and SCCM IT administrator for Rutter Networking Technologies, based in Andover, Massachusetts. It ties the base Web portal and administrative function into a single interface, offering IT admins an easy management tool that runs on top of the Server Manager.

SCCM can be enough

While companies such as Adaptiva and Cireson work to deliver add-ons to SCCM, concerns whether Microsoft will integrate similar features could lead to heavier competition.

For some IT administrators, SCCM is enough and there is no need for other add-on tools due to their client base. For example, Rutter Networking Technologies does not use Adaptiva's products because the majority of its customers are in small to mid-sized businesses and SCCM can handle its clients' needs.

The Tahoma School District in Maple Valley, Washington also finds SCCM sufficient. They are cost-minded, and additional tools would only make financial sense if available at education market pricing, said JD Young, technology systems engineer.

Associate Editor Jeremy Stanley contributed to this report.

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