System Center Configuration Manager (ConfigMgr or SCCM), formerly Systems Management Server (SMS), is a systems management software product by Microsoft for managing large groups of Windows-based computer systems. Configuration Manager provides remote control, patch management, software distribution, operating system deployment, network access protection, and hardware and software inventory.
There have been three major iterations of SMS. The 1.x versions of the product defined the scope of control of the management server (the site) in terms of the NT domain that was being managed. Since the 2.x versions, that site paradigm has switched to a group of subnets that will be managed together. Since SMS 2003, the site could also be defined as one or more Active Directory sites. The most frequently used feature is inventory management, which provides both hardware and software inventory across a business enterprise.
The major difference between the 2.x product and SMS 2003 is the introduction of the Advanced Client. The Advanced Client communicates with a more scalable management infrastructure, namely the Management Point. A Management Point (MP) can manage up to twenty five thousand Advanced Clients.
The Advanced Client was introduced to provide a solution to the problem that a managed laptop might connect to a corporate network from multiple locations and should not always download content from the same place within the enterprise (though it should always receive policy from its own site). When an Advanced Client is within another location (SMS Site), it may use a local distribution point to download or run a program which can conserve bandwidth across a WAN.
Microsoft announced the next generation of the product, System Center Configuration Manager 2007 (code name "V4") at the Microsoft Management Summit in April 2005. The product was released to manufacturing in August of 2007 and was available for general release in November of 2007. A free evaluation edition of System Center Configuration Manager 2007 is available on the Microsoft download center.