It seems like yesterday when Maurice pinged me saying the SCConfigMgr group had been asked to speak at MNSCUG OSDDay and asked if I would like to go do a presentation. I don’t think I was done with the jet lag from the London Summit when I said yes and am I glad that I did! Talk about an amazing group of technical experts that gather on a regular basis.
Every great event always starts with some form of craziness around travel. From the SCConfigMgr group, we had Me, Nickolaj and Maurice between the three of us that was a distance of 13,337 KM traveled or 8,287 miles! Now along the way, Maurice and I stopped to see a customer and that itself was an adventure. As we drove through the cornfields of rural America a nondescript dark spot loomed on the road in the distance which unfortunately lead to the first interesting event of the trip. If you’ve ever traveled the back roads of the United States I’m sure you’ve encountered plenty of those ‘SURPRISE POTHOLE!’ moments well unfortunately for us this lead to a flat tire a quarter of a mile short of our destination.
However, though we were stuck in a rather creepy cornfield we persevered. It wasn’t until Wednesday we encountered our next mild worry. As Maurice and I were boarding our flight we got a message from Nickolaj ‘Guys my flight has been delayed I don’t think I’m going to make my connection flight’. We tried not to let the existential dread set in as we made contingency plans in the hotel lobby and heaved a huge sigh of relief when we saw him walk in after being awake for thirty some odd hours and getting through customs at breakneck speed but the saga of strange continued the next morning…
Everything was going according to plan we met up in the hotel lobby had breakfast together and did a final review of our presentations before trading shop talk, after all, we hadn’t seen each other in a month. Then we headed for the elevator, the doors shut we begin to descend when we heard the noise you never want to hear in an elevator followed by a sensation that can only be described as akin to slamming on the brakes for a fraction of a second while going down the expressway. The lights in the elevator flickered, the floor option for the panel went dark and we realized the elevator was stuck. Here we were after having traveled over eight thousand miles and on our way to get in a cab to the event and we were stuck in an elevator we looked at each other all thinking the same thing ‘Not like this’ thought and reached out to press the ground floor button again with hope in our eyes only to watch the button light up and darken again in despair. Fortunately after about a minute of discussing if we were stuck or not the elevator began to descend to the ground floor ever so slowly and we were on our way to OSDDay!
The Event Space
Let us start with the venue because as a travel guide friend of mine once said ‘location, location, location’ it is important to pick a great location and MNSCUG went above and beyond with their choice of Surly Brewing Co. The event space was great and not only great but packed, I suspect we had close to a 100% attendance rate.
Session One – Modern Driver & Bios Management
Maurice and Nickolaj kicked off the event with a deep dive into how to use the SCConfigMgr DAT tool when streamlining deployment of drivers in your environment. They discussed how we have active relationships with various hardware vendors including Dell, HP and Lenovo to ensure that the DAT tool stays supportable going forward with driver downloads. They even did a quick display of how you can use it to scan the various hardware models in your organization and then use that information to download all of the required driver packages. They showed how to update the created packages and discussed why it was more efficient to use this tool than some of the other methods that exist.
Of course they had to show off the SCConfigMgr WebService as well and how it is used to determine what drivers are needed after they’ve been downloaded and created. Finally, Maurice showed off the beta of the next version of the tool that allows you to get drivers based on the Windows 10 version and clean up drivers that are no longer used. It was impressive to see the difference in the number of people currently using the start of the session maybe 10% of attendees to the number of people who planned to go home and implement the tool or test its implementation within the next week almost 80% of the room.
Session Two – OSD FrontEnd
The user experience for OSD especially in large organizations where the responsibility of imaging a machine needs to be handed off to many people has always been challenging. Thanks to a tool that Nickolaj has been actively developing for quite a while now its gotten quite a lot easier especially with how customizable he’s made it so that it can fit almost any organization. This tool also relies on the WebService but it makes deploying a new workstation a breeze with some very basic steps it allows anyone with the appropriate permissions to set up a machine for imaging.
The tool has even gotten so advanced it now offers the ability to choose the OU you would like the machine to be placed in upon completion of OSD.
Adaptiva Sponsor Session
Adaptiva had a great showing as well, taking a break from the normal instead of simply telling us about the product they had a fun little game show complete with prizes if you knew information about the product. A decent number of people in the room were either using the product or had researched it making the competition for the prizes fierce as it wasn’t just one person with all the answers. The important takeaways about the Adaptiva Product were:
- Saves space on clients
- Helps reduce and slim down required infrastructure
- Reduce Network Overhead using advanced network filter drivers that predict network utilization – 40% better than LEDBAT
- Provides active and passive client health checks for Windows 10 and more
- Provides an automation workbench that can be used for a large number of general tasks.
Session Three – Where Did my OS GO? Reporting Compliance & More
This session was a look not so much at the technical challenges of OSD but at the reporting side of things and gave a beta preview of a new OSD dashboard in PowerBI. After all its not enough sometimes to just say ‘OSD works’ sometimes it’s important to prove it with tasty donut charts and info graphs that show improvement over time. However, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows we had to have that all important compliance and documentation conversation. It always feels great when we get something working but it feels bad when they forget how we got it working and didn’t document it to that end we discussed the importance of understanding – Standards, Process, Procedure and Deviation and how to try to make them simple so they no longer feel like a chore. We also discussed some of the important SQL views that can be used to generate reports or figure out what went wrong during OSD when you may not have access to logs right away or when trying to track down when a particular change was made that impacted OSD. This part of the session was interactive and resulted in gather a LOT of information to help build a better PowerBI dashboard for OSD which should be coming later this month and finally a short bit about using Teams with OSD courtesy of our friend Terrence.
Session Four Tips and Tricks
In the final session of the day Nickolaj gave a sneak preview of a new solution he’s working on and then discussed common issues people have run into and how solutions were then created for them. Everything from gathering better logs to ensuring content was cleaned up and more. Some of the things discussed included things like
- Baking in O365 for your reference image
- Automating creation of a reference image
- Automation of cleaning up unused content
- How to better use ALL the functions in the ConfigMgr WebService
- New Features coming out in 1806
It’s a Wrap
Thank you again SO much for having us and hopefully you all gained something from attending and a special thank you to Mark Godfrey who helped us plan things out every step of the way and made this event run so smoothly. Hope to see you all next year!
Some pictures from the road.
Jordan has been working in the Industry since 2009. Since starting he’s worked with Active Directory, Group Policy, SCCM, SCOM and PowerShell. Jordan most recently worked in the healthcare industry as an SCCM Infrastructure Team lead supporting over 150,000 endpoints. Jordan currently works as a Senior consultant for TrueSec Inc in the U.S. Most recently his focus has been in SQL Reporting for SCCM, creation of PowerShell scripts to automate tasks and PowerBI.