I was recently out for a run and found myself thinking about how much ConfigMgr has changed since I joined the team in 2003.
I thought about the date we shipped SMS 2003 – coincidentally, the exact date we completed the final build was just a few days ago (October 22, 2003). Looking back on that date, I couldn’t help but think of the key people who had begun that journey long before I arrived at to Microsoft, as well as the incredibly important people that had joined along the way. It’s remarkable how stable and consistent this team has been through the years.
The cliché is true: The more things change, the more they really are the same.
Here is what I remember from the time leading up to the release of SMS 2003: I had joined the team in May 2003 – about the time we were getting Beta 2 of SMS 2003 released. At the time, SMS accounted for a little less than 30% of the PC lifecycle management market. One of the big areas of focus in SMS 2003 was (believe it or not) mobility. In 2003, “mobility” meant laptops. A couple years later, the market would hit a tipping point and laptops would begin out-shipping desktops. The market had to respond to the fact that managing loosely connected laptops required a different approach than the always-connected desktop. On our end, we were building in patching as well as imaging for OS deployment.
SMS 2003 was a monster release that really set SMS –> ConfigMgr to the place it is today.
Today, ConfigMgr has more than 70% market share of the PC management market, and it continues to grow by about 1% share of market every quarter. With the upcoming release of ConfigMgr, this will be the 12th release of SMS/ConfigMgr that Microsoft has delivered since 2003, and ConfigMgr is the undisputed leader of managing Windows devices. As user behavior/expectations have changed, and as the needs of IT have changed, we have added integrated anti-malware, desired state management, increased the scale, and tons of other features over the years.
Amidst all the improvements and upgrades we’ve made during this time, the volume of innovations we are adding to the upcoming release of ConfigMgr is the most significant.
Let Me Explain Why I Say that:
As we were finishing SMS 2003 and defining what would become ConfigMgr 2007, I remember sitting down with the Test (QA) Manager (it’s the same guy who still leads these efforts today!) and looking at the schedule of what was coming next. The schedule had a spot for “dev code complete” – a point in time when all the end-to-end features would be coded and we’d start the process of putting the offering into beta and getting it released. As we reviewed the schedule that day, the time from “dev code complete” to “release to manufacturing” stretched 16 months! I never liked plans with such a long end-game! Fast forward to today: As I posted last week, we now ship releases to ConfigMgr every month!
The changes this team has made to the ConfigMgr architecture, the tools we use to build/maintain it, our processes, and our culture are simply mind blowing. Moving ConfigMgr to a place where we can ship it every month – that is jaw dropping. This is a wonderful example of taking a strong on-premises product that is used around the globe and cloud-enabling it!
How Did We Do This?
Like just about anything else in business, making changes, driving innovation, and delighting customers ultimately comes down to three things: Vision, people, and culture. Throughout my career, I have found that, if you have a compelling vision, the right people, and the right culture – magic can happen in the solutions that you deliver.
I cannot tell you how often I have been asked, “So what does a Vice President of a multi-billion dollar business at Microsoft do?,” or the number of times I’ve looked at a budget and seen myself classified as “overhead!” Honestly, If I have the right vision for the team, and if I have the organization aligned to that vision, with the right leaders all driving a healthy and vibrant culture – flat out magic happens. This is what has happened with ConfigMgr (and now EMS!) over the last decade.
Let me describe a couple of the key points on this journey:
Starting with SMS 2003, the level of responsibility my team was asked to assume began to ramp substantially. Within a short period of time, the leadership team was also overseeing the strategy, development, and operations of Windows Update and Microsoft’s anti-malware services. Windows Update is arguably the world’s largest service that actually effects change on user’s devices – it updates around 1B devices every month. When my team took control of the anti-malware products, we were protecting less than 20M devices – now it’s protecting 100’s of millions of devices.
This entire process was an incredible experience in understanding how to build services and connect them to on-premises solutions. The leadership team that is now delivering the integrated ConfigMgr/Intune solution has literally been doing this for years.
Along the way, we spearheaded the acquisition of several key companies. Acquisitions are always tough, and each one demands a great deal of leadership to be successful. The most significant acquisition was Softricity. This company provided the code-base and engineering experience for our application virtualization capabilities that later became App-V, the anchor of MDOP, and the foundation of the click-to-run code that the Office apps now use. This has been one of the most successful acquisitions in the history of Microsoft. MDOP was subsequently built from scratch by this leadership team.
Along the way, we learned how to become much, much more agile. We learned how to build new businesses from scratch. And we also learned how to expand our skills from on-premises software to cloud-delivered services operating at massive cloud scale.
Why This Matters to You
Over the years, the leadership team responsible for the integrated ConfigMgr/Intune solution has built, delivered, and operated the industry’s most-used solution for Windows management, anti-malware protection, and updating consumer devices. With each point of increased responsibility, and with every ambitious acquisition, this leadership team was strengthened and the entire organization benefitted from sharing and mixing talent across the engineering teams. There are a lot of names in common across the rosters for SMS 2003 and ConfigMgr/Intune.
In terms of looking ahead, I can’t emphasize enough how important ConfigMgr is to the future of Microsoft. In my previous post about the future of ConfigMgr, I called out a couple key points that bear repeating:
Our goals with ConfigMgr in this release cycle are all centered around finishing the work we started back in 2010 (when we were building ConfigMgr 2012) to deliver ConfigMgr as a service. We began that work as the way we would connect ConfigMgr and Intune to provide the single pane of glass for managing all devices. With this work now completed, and with ConfigMgr/Intune being delivered as services, here is what we are able to do for you:
- Update ConfigMgr easily each and every time new Windows capabilities are released.
- Update ConfigMgr each and every time updates or iOS and Android are released.
- Deliver the single-pane-of-glass for managing all devices – with immediate support across Windows, iOS and Android without you have to go through complex individual upgrades. We’ll do the work for you.
When any IT organization or business unit looks at the challenges ahead, the need for an integrated solution is clear. In particular, a need for an integrated system that does six irreplaceable things:
- Manages what you have today with Windows 7 and Windows 8.
- Provides a way to upgrade to Windows 10 from where you are now.
- Takes you forward into the mobile and cloud world while leveraging the skills and tools you already have in place.
- Manages the growing population of mobile devices that users are already using to access corporate content.
- Integrates management, identity, and protection in a unified solution.
- Helps protect your organizations from the modern security threats that surround us.
These six things are what we do better than anyone else – anywhere. This solution is brought to you by a team you know – a team that has been delivering it to you for many years. Perhaps most importantly, this has been built by a team that knows you. This team has been with you as the market has evolved, it has learned from you about the biggest challenges your organization is facing, and we are deeply invested in your personal success.
This will be the team, the products, and the services that help you move into this mobile/cloud first world that delivers on our vision of “Empowering users to be productive on the devices they love, while helping ensure the company assets are secure.”