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PowerMAN and Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager® (SCCM)

Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) is an enterprise IT management suite targeted at larger organisations. SCCM 2007 R3 and later editions include client-side PC power management and basic power management reporting features. The features available are an improvement over those built-in to Windows® and have the potential to offer a near-uniform solution for Windows XP and later.


How does SCCM compare to PowerMAN?

SCCM is a complex and costly product. It offers a complete enterprise IT management solution but will not be a cost effective solution if purchased for power management alone. The power management support is an improvement over that present in Windows itself but does not compare to the more evolved and focused support present in a specialist product such as PowerMAN.


The major reason for this is that the SCCM power management feature is built around the underlying power management engine in the operating system. This means that the features supported on each operating system release are limited to the timeout based power features present in that specific release of Windows and configurable by the end user using the Control Panel application. This prevents SCCM from being used to wake computers for maintenance or AV scans, logout stale users or shutdown the PC when nobody is logged on.


A second limitation of SCCM is that, whilst supporting peak and off-peak time-bound power management policies, it does not allow power management policies and actions to be scheduled for specific times, does not allow users to opt-out or allow exclusions for specific programs, files or times of day. Further, SCCM offers no way to warn users about an impending power management action or allow them to cancel it. This one-size-fits all approach limits effective use in many scenarios, especially timetable driven environments such as computer labs and school classrooms.


A final, and perhaps most crucial, limitation of SCCM is that the product does not include an anti-insomnia feature. This greatly reduces the effectiveness of power management especially when longer timeout periods (typically over 15 minutes) are used. SCCM does provide a PC insomnia report but does not include any feature to overcome insomnia itself. This vital omission makes SCCM power management unsuitable in many environments.


PowerMAN is a best of breed power management solution. PowerMAN was designed specifically for effective power management and offers features above and beyond those present in SCCM:


Power Management Feature

Win XP

Win Vista/7/8/10

SCCM*

PowerMAN 5.4

Management Tool

N/A

N/A

Highly Complex

Windows Group Policy

Historic Reporting per PC/Site

No

No

Limited
Per-collection
Not per-PC

Comprehensive
Per-site
Per-PC (detailed)

   Reporting UI

N/A

N/A

Complex

Intuitive / web-based

   Export reports to Excel/CSV/XML

No

No

Yes

Yes

   Data Retention

No

No

Detail 31 days
Summary 13 months
Not configurable

Detail 2 years
Summary 5 years
Configurable

   SQL access to per-minute data

No

No

No

Yes

Live Reporting per PC/Site

No

No

No

Comprehensive

   Per-site workstation availability report

No

No

No

Yes

   Workstation status dashboard

No

No

No

Yes

Central power management configuration

No

Limited

More

Comprehensive

   Sleep/Hibernate (on-idle)

No

Yes

Yes

Multiple/day

   Shutdown / Power-off (on-idle)

No

No

No

Multiple/day

   Logout (on-idle)

No

No

No

Multiple/day

   Sleep/Hibernate (on-schedule)

No

No

No

Multiple/day

   Shutdown / Power-off (on-schedule)

No

No

No

Multiple/day

Maintenance window (Wake-up + stay-awake)

No

No

No

Multiple/day

Wake-up (on schedule)

No

No

Yes, single per collection

Multiple/day

Wake-up (remote / ad-hoc)

   By Administrator

No

No

via Console

via WakeMyPC

   By User

No

No

No

via WakeMyPC

Multiple policies per user/computer/group

No

No

Requires distinct collection

Multiple

Distinct policies per day

No

No

Peak and off-peak only
Same policy everyday

Yes, any day/time combination

Separate policies per user  / group

Yes

No

Per-collection only

Yes

Separate policies per PC / group

No

Via GPO

Per-collection only

Yes

Protect power settings from unauthorised changes

No

Via GPO

Yes

Yes

Distinct policy for no-user present

No

No

No

Yes

Enforce policy (anti-'Insomnia')

No

No

No

Yes

Configure power/sleep/lid button behaviours

No

No

Yes

Yes

Opt-out / exclusion features

   By computer

No

No

Requires distinct collection

Yes

   By file/program

No

No

No

Yes

   By time

No

No

No

Yes

   By login user

No

No

No

Yes

   By CPU%

No

No

No

Yes

   User driven opt-out (optional)

No

No

No

Yes

Detailed Power Management Event Log

No

No

No

Yes

Client deployment footprint

N/A

N/A

>50MB

~1MB

Uniform solution for all client OS

N/A

N/A

No
Limited by client OS features

Yes

Full support for Windows® Vista/7/8/10

N/A

N/A

Yes

Yes

Fully supported via email and telephone

N/A

N/A

Extra Cost

Included

* Based upon technical analysis of SCCM and Micrsoft documentation available here and here.