Automate 3rd party software, drivers and BIOS updates with the new System Center Update Publisher 2011
With System Center Update Publisher (SCUP) Microsoft provides a platform for adding 3rdparty updates to your conventional WSUS updates. Until last week SCUP 4.5 was available for adding 3rd party software, driver and BIOS updates to a WSUS server. With SCUP you can either use a catalog file to import multiple updates from a vendor’s website at once or just simply add your own update packages to SCUP to deploy it in your enterprise environment as they were Microsoft updates. Now, with SCUP 4.5 there were some issues which are resolved within SCUP 2011. Some of the issues include the following:
- Limited configuration options for download behavior (i.e. metadata only vs full content)
- Expired updates cannot be removed from the updates server easily
- Approval and publishing updates requires multiple steps to be taken
With SCUP 2011 you now have a so called ConfigMgr integration. This integration option can be used to regulate download behavior for an update. In general you probably want clients to download only metadata from SCCM/SCUP if only a few clients request an update. When the number of clients increase it would be better to download full content so that clients will use common distribution points instead of an internet location to download the update to avoid unnecessary bandwidth utilization. With the thresholds you can regulate this now.
Expiring and removing updates properly was a hell of a job if an update was removed from a vendor’s catalog. In SCUP 2011 you can use a new Software Update Cleanup Wizard for this. So now, expiring a software update that exists on the update server but is not in the SCUP repository is an easy job.
SCUP 2011 has a Publish tab where you can bundle updates that you want to deploy to your clients. This is a new feature that makes it somewhat easier to manage and administer the SCUP update repository.
What I like the most about SCUP is that you are able to deploy software with the WSUS functionality available. In large enterprise environments normal software distribution requires lots of steps to be taken by various departments for each individual software update. These steps include scripting, testing, configure SCCM packages, collections, advertisements, etc. New software updates like Adobe’s Flash Player are being released very rapidly. It requires that you’ll have to execute the same procedure over again to deploy it in your enterprise. Using SCUP and Adobe’s update catalog instead will save you a lot of time.
Installing drivers, BIOS, hardware utilities and firmware for instance on Dell systems is an easy job using SCUP. Minor disadvantage is that you will need the OpenManage client running on client systems to provide some necessary WMI classes. These extra classes will be used to identify the hardware peripherals. WSUS uses this information to compare with the catalog logic rules:
With SCUP you can use the logic which comes with the catalogs to deploy a software update bundle that include multiple updates at once. Compare the logic within the catalog with the queries you normally use in SCCM collections for grouping the client systems what you’ll need for targeting the software.
You can also create your own updates. As an example i’ve added the Google Chrome browser installer as a required update with Adobe Flash Player as a prerequisite