Unlocking little-known SCCM features to aid Windows 10 migrations

We've been helping a number of customers migrate to Windows 10 over the past year or so and the same thing keeps happening to me: I run a demo of our product MigrationStudio, and I explain how understanding your current user-base and their application usage is one of the most important steps in delivering a successful migration. But why?

There's a significant difference between the installed applications on a device, and the applications each person actually uses. In almost all cases people only ever use a subset of the applications they have installed. We've done some analysis of this on real-world data and have found that typically anywhere between 25% and 34% of a typical user's applications will ever be used.

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This information is like gold-dust for anyone planning a migration to Windows 10 because it vastly reduces the number applications we have to consider before we migrate the users, and it significantly reduces the time taken and therefore the cost.

At this point, the customer normally responds that they don't have a solution in-place which provides application usage metrics. I ask "Do you use SCCM?" and the typical answer is "Yes, of course". This is the point where I explain that SCCM does track application usage, and to an extremely detailed level. Sometimes customers will say "but we haven't configured software metering" but this isn't the feature we rely on. Instead, we use the inventory feature of SCCM which is enabled by default, and captures usage of all applications which are launched with an executable file. It will track these applications regardless of how they were installed (manual installs, SCCM installed, run from a network share) and it will even track virtual applications such as App-V. And better still, it doesn't just provide a list of executable names, instead, it provides a vendor, product name and version.

Typical MigrationStudio dashboard showing SCCM data:

This is an incredibly useful resource, and most people I speak to have no idea that this exists.

How can I get access to the SCCM inventory data?

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We've spent the last year refining our SCCM connector which means that MigrationStudio can run a daily extract from SCCM and present this in an easy-to-digest format. This has a number of benefits over the raw SCCM inventory data:

  • You can connect to multiple, separate SCCM systems and bring all the data into one instance (perfect for mergers)
  • MigrationStudio filters out the applications which aren't relevant to OS migrations (patches, hotfixes, drivers, utilities etc.)
  • MigrationStudio normalises the data to make all variations of Abobe, Adobe Inc etc consistent (this includes application names and versions too)
  • Migration|Studio layers Active Directory and HR data over the SCCM data allowing you to break down the application usage by department, location, office etc. This means we can easily show you which Adobe applications were used by the Leeds office in the past 14 days for example.
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  • Simplified application rationalisation allows you to take multiple versions of a product and replace it with a single version, and automatically forward-path the users of the old versions to the single new version to make the transition to Windows 10 faster and easier.

We have a large number of customers who have been extremely surprised with just how useful the SCCM inventory data is when processed by MigrationStudio. They have been able to save a significant amount of time and money with their EUC transformation projects and have continued to gain benefits of using the data post-migration to keep on top of the application management.