SCCM Pre-Production Client Deployment

Jonathan LefebvreSCCM13 Comments

Since SCCM 1511, a new feature is available to ease the client upgrade process. SCCM pre-production client deployment is an integrated way for SCCM administrators to test the upgrade and functionality of the new SCCM client before production deployment.

In previous SCCM upgrade posts, we explained how to upgrade the SCCM client using standard process after a major upgrade. In this post, we will explain how to plan, configure and use the new pre-production client deployment feature after a SCCM 1606 upgrade.

Pre-Requisite

  • SCCM 1511 or later
  • SCMC Client must be installed on a device prior testing the upgrade
  • A collection created for pre-production client

SCCM Pre-Production Client Package

On a SCCM 1511 and later primary site, a new default package is available : Configuration Manager Client Piloting package.

SCCM Pre-production client

The source files are located under Program Files\Microsoft Configuration Manager\StagingClient

SCCM Pre-production client

Collection

We need a collection to target the pre-production client deployment. This collection can be an existing collection or a new one. Usually we targeted IT and pilots devices.

SCCM Pre-production client

Step 1 | Upgrade Process

To use the pre-production client to it’s full potential, you must set the Client Update Options in the Upgrade Wizard during a site upgrade.

SCCM Pre-production client

If we select the Upgrade without validating, the client package will be updated to the latest version. This mean :

  • Client Push installation will use the latest version of the client
  • Operating system deployment with Setup and Configure ConfigMgr task will install the latest version of the client
  • If automatic client upgrade is activated on the hierarchy, all clients will be upgraded within the number of days defined in the Hierarchy options

If you prefer to test the upgrade and functionality of new client, it’s not a good process for you.

To use the pre-production client, in the Update Wizard, select Validate in Pre-Production Collection instead :

SCCM Pre-production client

This will automatically upgrade the clients of the specified collection once the site upgrade is completed.

Validate SCCM Pre-Production Client Deployment is Enabled

  • Go to Administration / Site configuration / Sites
  • Select Hierarchy settings

SCCM Pre-production client

  • Under the Client Upgrade tab, Pre-Production client version is up to the latest version, while the Production client version is a version behind.

SCCM Pre-production client

  • The Configuration Manager Client Piloting Package is automatically updated

SCCM Pre-production client

Test in Task Sequence

It’s possible to use the pre-production client in a task sequence.

  • On the Setup Windows and ConfigMgr task, select Use pre-production client package when available and select your pre-production client package

SCCM Pre-production client

Step 2 | Monitoring Piloting Upgrade

Once the site has completed the upgrade, the clients in the pre-production client collection will initiate the client upgrade after their next machine policy retrieval cycle. You can follow the pre-production client deployment in the console.

  • First, let’s look at the client version prior pre-production client upgrade

SCCM Pre-production client

  • Go to Monitoring / Client Status / Pre-production client deployment
  • Verify that your devices are compliant

SCCM Pre-production client

  • If we look back at the client, the Client version as been updated :

SCCM Pre-production client

Step 3 | Promote SCCM Pre-Production Client for Production Deployment

When we are done with testing, it’s time to Promote the pre-production client.

  • Go to Administration / Cloud Services / Updates and Servicing, select the update and click Promote Pre-production Client

SCCM Pre-production client

  • Screen to confirm. We can see the difference between each package. Click Promote

SCCM Pre-production client<

[su_box title=”Important Note” style=”glass” title_color=”#F0F0F0″]Keep in mind that at this point, if you have the client automatic upgrade enabled for your hierarchy, this will begin the upgrade of all clients according to targeted window you configuredSCCM Pre-production client[/su_box]

Validate Promote to Production Client

  • Under Administration / Site Configuration / Sites, select Hierarchy settings and tab Client Upgrade

SCCM Pre-production client

  • Production client version is now the same a the Pre-production client. Also, the check box for Upgrade all client in the pre-production collection was unchecked
  • The Configuration Manager Client package as been updated
  • Screen shot before the Promote to production

SCCM Pre-production client

  • Screen shot after the Promote to production

SCCM Pre-production client

  • Under Monitoring / Client Status / Production Client Deployment, we already have a recap of which client are or not compliant

SCCM Pre-production client

Known Issue

If the Promote Pre-Production client is grayed-out, you have an issue with Role based administration.

If the user that try to Promote Pre-Production client, is part of an Active Directory group and is member of the Full Administrator security scope, then the button will be grey- out.

SCCM Pre-production clientSCCM Pre-production client

The workaround is to add the account, directly in Administrative Users and give the security role Full Administrator

SCCM Pre-production clientSCCM Pre-production client

For more information here

Contributor of System Center Dudes. Based in Montreal, Canada, Senior Microsoft SCCM consultant, working in the industry for more than 10 years. He developed a strong knowledge of SCCM and MDT to build automated OS deployment solution for clients, managed large and complexe environment, including Point of Sale (POS) related projects.

13 Comments on “SCCM Pre-Production Client Deployment”

  1. Hi,

    Thanks for your clear and informative blog!
    I’ve just done an upgrade of a small SCCM infra from 1606 to 1802 (multiple steps). We used a pre-production collection during that process and all went well. However, before promoting the 1802 client to prod, we would actually like to change the collection being used for the pre-prod validation and test further. In the Hierarchy Settings Properties box, where the current pre-production collection is shown, can we just browse to the new/desired collection and select it and the clients in that other collection will then start to be upgraded? Any “gotchas” that we need to watch out for with that approach?

    Thanks for your advice!
    Cheers,
    John

  2. Thank you! Too bad it took a day to find your site.
    Your docs are better than MS docs, which ramble, and have links upon links.

    1. Hi Dor,

      no it shouldn’t require a reboot. But Pre-Prod is made exactly for that.
      Test the upgrade of the client itselft, then see that the client is working well before going full release.

      Jonathan

  3. In the instructions under prerequisites, you say SCMC Client, i think you mean SCCM client

    PRE-REQUISITE
    SCCM 1511 or later
    SCMC Client must be installed on a device prior testing the upgrade
    A collection created for pre-production client

  4. Hi Jonathan.

    Thanks for posting this guide.
    I’m facing the “grayed out” problem for the “Promote Pre-Production client”.
    Already deleted the admin account and re-added manually as full administrator but nothing changed.
    Any other ideas?

    Cheers,
    pedro

    1. Just to add that I was able to overcome the issue; I had to install the 1706 Hotfix first. After that the option was available again.

  5. Hey Jonathan!

    First of all,great guide thank you for posting.

    I have a small question regarding the upgrade,specifically managed clients.

    I manage and maintain the SCCM environment and I’m currently evaluating the afformentioned upgrade process to 1706.

    My question is ,
    post site upgrade to v.1706, will clients at a lower working version lose functionality at any level?

    I manage 13k clients and wouldn’t want the site to crap out on me 🙂

    Would really appreciate a response based on your experience.

    Thanks in advance,
    Oren

    1. Hi Oren,

      No. The client will not lose functionality if they don’t match the version of the site system.
      However, upgrading the client is recommended as they are bug fix and new features added with an upgrade.

      Jonathan

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