Ever since Beta 2 of desired configuration management in Configuration Manager 2007, the documentation has tantalizingly referenced Configuration Packs for importing best practices configuration data. For example, from Overview of Desired Configuration Management: 

Download configuration data that has been published by Microsoft and other software vendors and solution providers from the Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 Configuration Packs Web page (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=71837).

And you’ll find the same link if you click Configuration Pack Download on Microsoft.com in the Resources section of the desired configuration management home page in the Configuration Manager console.

 

In concert with the General Availability of Configuration Manager 2007, these Configuration Packs are now available for everybody to download. The link hasn’t changed in the documentation or on the product, but instead of seeing a “Coming soon” message in your Web browser, clicking it now takes you to the System Center Configuration Manager 2007 Configuration Pack Catalog Web page. This page offers a number of resources related to desired configuration management, including Configuration Packs from Microsoft, Citrix, and more. Check it out!

 

I’m really excited to see the Configuration Packs available to help kick start compliance evaluation with desired configuration management!

 

Using Configuration Packs with desired configuration management in Configuration Manager offers a number of advantages:

  • You can leverage best practices from Microsoft and Partners by comparing them against your own environment’s configuration.
  • You can use the Configuration Packs as a base for defining your own configuration data, so that you don’t have to define configuration data from scratch.
  • You can use the Configuration Packs as samples, to help you understand how to create and design configuration items and configuration baselines.

 

The desired configuration management administrator workflows cover the different ways in which you can use Configuration Packs, with their accompanying checklists referencing the procedural topics that relate to each step. For a complete end-to-end solution, see also the example scenario “Comparing the Configuration of Computers against Best Practices Configuration from Microsoft and Other Vendors”.

 

If you’re using the Configuration Packs as a base for defining your own configuration items, see Step-by-Step Guide to Authoring Configuration Items in Desired Configuration Management, which takes you through examples of how to create each type of configuration item. For additional step-by-step samples, see Step-by-Step Sample Configuration Items for Desired Configuration Management. And don't forget to use the F1 help when you're using the wizards or editing configuration data, which provides help for defining each of the configuration data properties.

 

If you have problems with editing or authoring configuration data that is not resolved with the F1 help, look to see if the problem and solution is listed in the troubleshooting topic: Problems Editing Configuration Data in the Configuration Manager Console. This topic lists commonly reported problems to date, but if your problem isn't covered, post your issue to the System Center Configuration Manager Desired Configuration Management forum. The forums are monitored by the product group, MVPs and other customers so there's a good chance somebody will be able to resolve any questions or problems you have. As well as participating in the forums ourselves, we monitor them for common issues so that we can update the documentation accordingly.

 

One other resource I recommend you check out, is the new topic in November’s update: Best Practices for Desired Configuration Management. This provides some valuable tips from the product group and lessons learned from our beta customers to help you get the best results from desired configuration management – whether that’s using Configuration Packs, authoring your own configuration data from scratch, or a hybrid solution.

 

As always, let us know if you have feedback about the documentation in the Configuration Manager Documentation Library (either through SMSDocs@Microsoft.com or by using the Web rating and feedback mechanism). But for feedback about the Configuration Packs or support-related questions, see the resources listed on the System Center Configuration Manager 2007 Configuration Pack Catalog Web page.

 

 

- Carol Bailey

 

This posting is provided “AS IS” with no warranties and confers no rights.