Managing Linux After SCCM Support EOL

Written by Zach DeMeyer on May 9, 2020

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As of version 1902, all newer iterations of the Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) system management tool no longer support Linux endpoint management. This end-of-life (EOL) puts many organizations who still leverage the tool to manage Linux machines in a tough spot. If you’re one of these organizations, there’s a Linux management alternative to SCCM available from the cloud. Before we talk specifics, though, let’s talk about what an SCCM alternative for Linux would need to provide.

Managing Linux with SCCM

SCCM is an on-premises solution used for deploying, monitoring, patching, and otherwise managing an organization’s system fleet. Naturally, it pairs well with Microsoft’s directory service, Active Directory, and excels at managing systems running Windows. 

As SCCM evolved, it adopted support for other operating systems, including Mac devices and Linux servers and machines. Organizations with extensive Linux infrastructure used SCCM to secure and support their DevOps or other network engineering needs, and continue to do so to this day.

The Writing on the Wall

Although SCCM continues to provide system management capabilities to some organizations, it’s two newest versions, 1902 and 1906, no longer provide Linux support. For all iterations after those two, SCCM became known as Endpoint Configuration Manager, or ConfigMgr, which eventually developed limited Linux and Unix client support.

With this sunset of SCCM Linux support, organizations that rely on the tool for any reason simply can’t manage their Linux infrastructure. In fact, Microsoft has introduced its own cloud device management tool, Intune, as an alternative to the on-prem SCCM/ConfigMgr.

Microsoft still supports many versions of SCCM and ConfigMgr, so it makes sense for organizations that have already invested in them to continue leveraging them. But, as IT progresses, the Linux EOL and the introduction of Intune suggest that Microsoft’s on-prem system management presence is on its way out.

It’s a similar story to that of Open Directory, the Apple alternative to AD for Macs. Although it was effective for a little while, Open Directory has seemingly fallen off the radar. It remains an Apple technology but hasn’t received significant updates for some time. 

This phasing out of on-prem IT management tools ultimately culminates in a need for a new way to manage systems and devices without being physically tethered to hardware. And, as the demand for a fully remote workforce sweeps the world, IT admins need to be able to make this switch as quickly and painlessly as possible.

The Cloud Alternative

Organizations that need to enable a remote workforce quickly can rely on a cloud directory service to assume the role of their on-prem system management tools. Because they’re cloud-hosted, these solutions work regardless of where admins or users find themselves — without need for a VPN.

JumpCloud is the world’s first cloud directory service, offering comparable system management capabilities to SCCM while providing first-class support to Linux, Mac, and Windows systems. Using JumpCloud, organizations can remotely control those systems, what resources their users can access, and apply multi-factor authentication (MFA) to system, application, and network logins.

Admins leveraging JumpCloud can enforce pre-configured Policies to remotely configure their systems and servers based on group membership, including Policies specific to CentOS flavors of Linux. JumpCloud Commands provide remote Linux system fleet management via scripting in Python or languages through SDKs with the JumpCloud API.

JumpCloud also offers system monitoring capabilities with the premium System Insights™ tool, providing immediate visibility into system performance and configuration data that can integrate with aggregators and other analysis and reporting solutions via API. In essence, IT admins can achieve much of the same functionality as an existing SCCM instance, along with providing Linux and remote system management, access control, and other identity management functions.

Organizations that are required or reluctant to sunset their on-prem AD instance can leverage JumpCloud’s AD Integration to take over the role of SCCM, as well as many other tools leveraged alongside AD, while keeping their existing AD identities.

Learn More

With JumpCloud, organizations can forgo their on-prem infrastructure and manage their remote teams efficiently and effectively. If you are interested in such a tool, check out our demo to see all that JumpCloud can do.

Zach DeMeyer

Zach is a Product Marketing Specialist at JumpCloud with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. He loves being on the cutting edge of new technology, and when he's not working, he enjoys all things outdoors, music, and soccer.

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