I have never heard of an R3 of a Microsoft product before so I wanted to know more about what’s in SCCM 2007 R3 now it’s been released.  First of all the R3 suffix is about Microsoft being clear on the differences between release service packs etc.  A release is about added functionality without changes to the underlying engine while service packs are about rolling up cumulative updates that have been released to fix things which are broken.

So what new in SCCM 2007 R3?

1. My top feature would be improved power management and more importantly sophisticated reporting about how much energy you are using so you can see how the impact your policy and infrastructure changes make to your carbon bottom line.  Note: the key here is to baseline your consumption  before you make any changes.  Then you are in a much better position to evaluate the real energy savings of virtualisation in all its forms.

One thing to note about SCCM is that it makes the best use of the power management capabilities of the OS it is targeting so although it can enforce polices on XP, Windows Server 2003 and so on there won’t be the fine grain of control that there is in Windows 7 / Windows Server 2008 R2.

2. My other top feature isn’t really a top feature of SCCM at all, it’s the planned integration of Forefront Edge Protection into SCCM for reporting.  This will give you one screen to show that your infrastructure is compliant in the many contexts that this word is used:

  • Security compliant, both in terms of anti malware but up to date patching, firewall settings, and your own policies for example drive encryption like BitLocker and local administrator access.
  • Software compliant] -  you have license for all the software running on each device
  • and Energy compliant as I have just mentioned 

3. There are architectural improvements to SCCM as well to make it pick up changes to the infrastructure more quickly through better active directory integration and to further improve the scale and topologies of larger SCCM deployments.

If you have a TechNet subscription you can get it form the downloads section now, and if not there is a time-bombed trial version here.

I realise that evaluating this is going to be more difficult than trying out IE9 or Office 2010, as you’ll need a subset of your infrastructure in a sandbox to do this, such as the a DC a server and a few representative clients.  However this is a simple enough exercise with server virtualisation like Hyper-v, and if you haven’t created a sandbox like this Simon and I will get some content together next week so you can grow your own so you can use it to test pretty any bit of the System Center line up and you windows 7 deployment options.