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Centralized AV for Server 2012

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Windows already has a gigantic servicing engine that logs just about anything, and an SCCM task sequence can monitor this - in addition, a task sequence that uses MDT integration offers even more (logging and TS customization). As someone who's used most of the deployment products out there at this point, SCCM is in fact at least as powerful and configurable, and the fact it's a lifecycle management product (versus just an OSD product) makes it (and SCEP) worth the price when coupled with the other products in the suite. If you need a management console to troubleshoot for you, you're already behind the 8 ball as you're trusting information from someone or something that may or may not be the OS making judgement calls on failures. Any SCCM OSD should have pre-flight checks so that if failures are going to occur, you catch (and log) them before you start touching the client machine to be (re)installed.

I'd put SCCM and SCEP (+DCM, NAP, and DA) up against any lifecycle management product any day of the week - heck, you get licensing to SCOM and Orchestrator as well with your System Center purchase, which also means endpoint monitoring, reporting, and automation as desired based on things like performance data, event logs, and DCM / NAP configuration.

Honestly, most environments that fail to get the most out of the System Center suite (especially with the 2012 version) comes down to the admins not knowing how to set it up and manage it properly, rather than the software.

True - heck, I admit that I am very much at sea regarding System Center, especially the improvements in SC 2012. Fortunately, Microsoft is ready to help, with a whole series of System Center 2012 courses offered via Microsoft Virtual Academy, covering every single application in the suite. The courses are free, and even count toward both certification *and* contribute towards CEUs - a classic win/win/win scenario. And they don't require IE, either. (I've been using Firefox to do the coursework.).

The major reason i'm using MVA, as opposed to my usual OJT is that my server OS HDD is currently too little for a full SC 2012 deployment. If such is NOT the case for you, you CAN always grab the six-month trial of the entirety of SC 2012 (it even includes Windows Server 2012 if you lack it) via TechNet.

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