The home page for System Center Configuration Manager on the main Microsoft website has general information about the product. For technical information, start with the home page on TechNet which has links to resources to help you learn about the product. See also the Documentation Library on TechNet for the online help (or the Technical Documentation Download page to download the documentation as a CHM, PDF or DOCX file).
The Information and Support for Configuration Manager page on TechNet has a set of links to further information about the product, including a useful query that you can customise to search the online documentation. Also on TechNet is the System Center 2012 Configuration Manager Survival Guide, a page with dozens of links to information about various aspects of the product. TechNet’s FAQ is also useful.
Microsoft’s online Virtual Labs allow you to walk through labs for a number of Configuration Manager 2012 features by connecting to virtual machines hosted by Microsoft – full, downloadable instructions are provided.
The Configuration Manager 2012 forums can be helpful if you have a problem or are seeking more information about a topic within Configuration Manager.
A VHD containing an evaluation installation of SCCM can be downloaded from the Microsoft Download Centre.
Microsoft’s two main blogs on the product are the System Center Configuration Manager Team Blog, and System Center Configuration Manager, which used to be known as the Configuration Manager Support Team blog. They both have a range of articles about new fetaures, hotfixes, tips and tricks, etc and are well worth checking regularly.
The most comprehensive book currently available is System Center 2012 Configuration Manager Unleashed by Kerrie Meyler, Byron Holt, Marcus Oh, Jason Sandys and Greg Ramsey (published by Sams, ISBN 978-0672334375). This book covers only the features in RTM, but a supplement covering the new features of SP1 and R2 is also available as a supplement.
Less detailed is Mastering System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager by Steve Rachui, Kent Agerlund, Santos Martinez and Peter Daalmans (published by John Wiley & Sons, ISBN 978-1118128985). It has been updated to cover the new features of R2.
System Center 2012 Configuration Manager: Mastering the Fundamentals, 3rd edition by Kent Agerlund (published by Deployment Artist AB, ISBN 978-9187445019) is also less detailed than the Unleashed book, and focuses on an implementation of Configuration Manager for a fictitious company. The third edition includes R2 coverage.
Microsoft System Center 2012 Configuration Manager: Administration Cookbook by Brian Mason and Greg Ramsay (published by Pakt Publishing, ISBN 978-1849684941) contains straightforward instructions (‘recipes’) explaining how to carry out dozens of administrative tasks. It’s very much a hands-on book, rather than explaining concepts in depth.
Exam Ref 70-696 Managing Enterprise Devices and Apps, by Brian Svidgerol, (published by Microsoft Press, ISBN 978-0735698093) is useful if you’re studying for this exam (which maps to course 20696). It may also be useful for the 70-243 exam (which maps to courses 10747 and 10748), although it doesn’t cover all the subjects in that exam. I’m not a fan of these books as they always seem a little brief compared to the exam.
All these books are available for the Kindle.
In addition, Microsoft have made available some useful FREE ebooks. ‘Microsoft System Center: Configuration Manager Field Experience’, ‘Microsoft System Center: Software Update Management Field Experience’, ‘Microsoft System Center: Troubleshooting Configuration Manager’ are available from the Microsoft Virtual Academy website. ‘Deploying Windows 10: Automating deployment by using System Center Configuration Manager’ is available from the Microsoft Press blog.
Useful Blogs and Links
A list of logs can be found here. Remember how important these are!
Rather than battling with the prerequisites use this awesome tool. It will install and download all the prerequisites required for every scenario imaginable and works with the latest builds too!
Planning for Hardware Configurations for Configuration Manager details the recommendations for processors, memory and disk capacity for the various site system roles.
Supported Configurations for Configuration Manager includes detailed information about the numbers of clients and site systems that are supported in various scenarios, as well as hardware and software requirements, and much else.
About Client Installation Properties in Configuration Manager lists the switches for CCMsetup.exe and Client.msi
Matrix of Role-Based Administration Permissions for ConfigMgr 2012, a useful summary of the permissions that make up each role.
Customizing Hardware Inventory in Configuration Manager 2007 using NOIDMIF Files explains how to create and use NOIDMIF files to extend hardware inventory
Software distribution, software updates, and operating system deployment
For explanations of the structure of new Content Library on distribution points, see Understanding the new content library store in 5 minutes or ConfigMgr 2012 Content Library Overview, or for a more detailed description see Understanding the Configuration Manager Content Library.
New Distribution Points in Configuration Manager SP1 explains the new cloud-based distribution points
Introducing the Pull-Distribution Points explains another new type of DP introduced in SP1.
Introducing the Application Catalog and Software Center in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, which explains which types of applications appear in each.
Tips and Tricks for Deploying the Application Catalog in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, a useful article from the SCCM Team Blog
Software Update Points in Configuration Manager Service Pack 1 describes the significant changes in SP1.
Software Update Content Cleanup in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager explains how to deal with expired updates
Rollback Software Updates from SCCM 2012 explains how to uninstall software updates using wusa.exe.
Business Hours vs. Maintenance Windows with System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, a detailed description of how these two features are used, and how they interact
Using App-V with Configuration Manager, a video from Microsoft Learning showing how to set up Configuration Manager clients to run App-V applications, and then how to deploy them.
Integrating Virtual Application Management with App-V 5 and Configuration Manager 2012 SP1, a document from Microsoft giving far more detail about deploying App-V applications with Configuration Manager than documentation on TechNet gives.
Integrate Configuration Manager with MDT 2013 Update 1, the first of a series of articles about how to deploy windows 10 using MDT, this explains the advantages of using MDT with Configuration Manager’s Operating System Deployment.
Managing mobile devices
Course 20696B videos, a set of videos used with this course that demonstrate various aspects of managing mobile devices with Configuration Manager 2012. Also included is a demonstration of configuring a connection group for virtual applications, and a video showing how to submit a categorisation request to System Center Online.
A comparison of managing mobile devices with Intune alone versus Intune integrated with SCCM.
To customise your console use this article.
What’s New in Configuration Manager SP1 outlines the changes in SP1.
The EICAR Standard Anti-Virus Test File is useful for testing System Center Endpoint Protection – it simulates virus activity but does no damage.
Scenarios and Solutions Using System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, a useful set of articles explaining how to deploy or use SCCM 2012 in various scenarios.
Download the Configuration Manager 2012 Toolkit and other useful tools from the Configuration Manager Component Add-ons and Extensions page.
If you want to take the SCCM 2012 exam, or want to create reports, you’ll need a basic understanding of writing SQL SELECT statements. Try the SQL Primer from W3Schools, or try this interactive SQL primer from SQLZOO. If you’d also like to learn about WQL, in order to write your own queries, this section on MSDN compares WQL and SQL.
To find out about the attributes in the database for constructing queries, try SoftPerfect Network Scanner. See also Looking Inside System Center 2012 Configuration Manager.
Creating Custom Reports by Using SQL Server Views in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, and in particular, Technical Reference for SQL Server Views in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, will also help with designing reports.
Right-click Tools for SCCM 2012 Console, a useful extension to the SCCM console