Along the internet are quite a few comparisons between SCCM and LANDesk. However, I feel these comparisons are made by LANDesk enthusiasts or by users who do not have day-to-day experience with SCCM and LANDesk.
As a server/workstation administrator in the past 8 years, I’ve had the privilege to work with both SCCM and LANDesk.
Both products do a, mostly similar, great job in system management, but still there are legion of differences in functionality and usability. In this article, I will present my experiences with both products and do some comparison between the lines.
This article compares the following products:
Microsoft’s SCCM (System Center Configuration Manager) 2012
LANDesk Management Suite 9.0 SP3
To start off, in January 2012 Gartner rated Microsoft’s SCCM as the clear leader, while LANDesk lays somewhat behind. While this isn’t a problem in functionality, it IS a down-side in support and resources available. Just Google around for SCCM and LANDesk resources. SCCM has the Microsoft social technet forums, as well as a lot of other forums and many enthusiastic bloggers around the world. In addition, there are great (study) books available like System Center 2012 Configuration Manager (SCCM) Unleashed
LANDesk, on the other hand, only have their own community forum. Study books and blogs are rare (or even non-existent).
Querying and reporting
I think LANDesk wins at this point. Creating queries and reports is really easy in LANDesk, basic knowledge (SQL statements, AND/OR operators) is enough to create the majority of your needs. In SCCM, though, you’ll need some hours of practice to create the queries and reports you need. SCCM has some advantages at customizing the design of your reports, but I don’t think they outweigh the extra expertise needed to create the queries.
Provisioning in LANDesk is like Task sequences in SCCM. It’s a great method of building standardized images and still being flexible in case of configuration changes. Both products deliver the basics, but SCCM offers the advanced features. Especially when used with Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT), you can create extremely powerful Task Sequences. Again, lots of documentation available from forums and blogs.
Looking at drivers and Hardware Independent Imaging, I would not choose one product above the other. SCCM is more GUI-based (thus easier to understand), and LANDesk is quicker to publish new drivers (as with SCCM you need to create, update and deploy driver packages).
One really big thing is the user GUI while deploying an OS to a workstation. SCCM delivers a nice GUI with progress bar and current task being performed, also during the application installations in the last phase of the task sequence . LANDesk provisions with a basic WinPE interface. Then, when LANDesk installs the applications as part of the provisioning task, there’s no progress bar, so users will not have a clue of what’s going on on the computer; they will logon to the computer, start working, and will finally get several mandatory reboots because of an application installations.
SCCM 2007 and LANDesk 9.0 are very competitive on this area. Both can handle error codes, different types of deployment (silent, user interaction, passive) and user and computer targeting. Both can wake-up a device with Wake On LAN (WOL) to distribute software. LANDesk has a very welcome behaviour to shut down a pc, if it was in a shutdown-state while starting the distribution task. This prevents systems from staying powered-on unnecessary
SCCM 2012 has made great progression by introducing user centric application management (if unfamiliar, google for it :-) ). Therefor, I believe SCCM 2012 wins the game in software distribution.
For App-V, I can’t decide yet. I know SCCM 2012 handles App-V well. LANDesk 9.5 supports App-V but I haven’t seen this functionality in action yet.
Although the technical implementation is completely different, both SCCM and LANDesk offer pretty the same. SCCM uses WSUS/Microsoft Update to get patches. LANDesk uses their own repository. Therefor, patches from LANDesk are always deployed with 4 to 6 hours delay.
The SCCM client integrates seamlessly into Windows. That’s great, because you can install the updates during the shutdown process.
LANDesk can’t. Patches from LANDesk will install while the computer is inactive, or when someone is working. During this patching process, a user cannot install software and will get undefined messages like “Install failed. Another process is already running”. This causes many calls in my Helpdesk system, frustrating me AND my clients. In addition, when a patch fails to install, it will never try to run again, which may conflict with your compliance policy.
While I’ve never implemented LANDesk, I believe LANDesk is easier/quicker to implement than SCCM is (according to the LANDesk community). SCCM on the other hand is very scalable, allowing you to install specific server roles apart from other roles. SCCM can become complex if you choose to install different roles on multiple servers. However, if you decide to install all roles on one primary server, installation is quite easy.
My final thoughts
LANDesk may be the best option in some situations. If you don’t have a Enterprise Agreement with Microsoft, or your computer environment is mainly Unix and MAC OS, I would recommend considering LANDesk. I believe it could be cost-efficient at the end.
However, I believe SCCM 2012 fits most organizations. It’s scalable to any size of organisation, from 100 to 100.000 devices. All features are stable, easy to use, there are lots of resources available (books, training, technicians, blogs). In addition, SCCM is implemented as one complete product. In LANDesk, I’ve been forced to use so many scripts and small executables to provide basic functionality; I could have implemented SCCM 3 times in all those extra wasted hours.
So, you may think: why am I so pro SCCM while all other Google hits worship LANDesk?
Well, try to google for a LANDesk vs SCCM comparison, and you’ll mainly find topics at the LANDesk community. Obviously, all those topics are pro-LANDesk, and LANDesk is always presented as best choice. I often disagree with the argumentation, but more important: most comparisons are between LANDesk and SCCM 2007. LANDesk better than SCCM? My experience proves the opposite.
I would like to encourage you to comment on this post. Discussions and/or questions are very welcome!