SCCM? ConfigMgr? SMS? MEMCM?

When you start working on Configuration Manager, one of the more puzzling things is how you’re supposed to refer to it in the first place.

You might know someone who still calls it “SMS”. Or at least you’re wondering why “SMS” keeps appearing as an acronym in some of the log files.

SCCM is the most common way you’ll hear it referred to, but technically that hasn’t been true since 2019.

And yet its full name is too long — so people keep calling it SCCM.

Without getting TOO deep into the history of Configuration Manager, I wanted to show how this happened.

A Small Timeline of Name Changes

  1. 1994 – Released as Systems Management Server (SMS)
  2. 2007 – Released as System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) 2007
  3. Dec. 2019 – Released as Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager (MECM)

The “System Center” confusion

In June 2007, Microsoft created the System Center suite of tools, which included:

  • Configuration Manager (renamed from SMS)
  • Operations Manager
  • Data Protection Manager
  • Reporting Manager
  • Virtual Machine Manager
  • Capacity Planner

The app was renamed to Configuration Manager, as part of System Center, so: System Center Configuration Manager, or SCCM.

As explained in this ITProToday article from 2007, SCCM was the chief tool of a deployment and configuration strategy that centered around System Center.

In my experience, many people inexperienced with ConfigMgr think “System Center” is part of the app’s official name, because SCCM is still the most common way to refer to it.

They may not even be aware that System Center is its own suite of tools, with its own documentation site.

2019 Brings about “Endpoint Manager”

Around 2019, Microsoft rebranded again, reimagining their method to manage endpoints.

They started using the term “Modern Management“, which just meant adding cloud-based management solutions for business systems.

Windows Intune added mobile device management and was renamed to just “Intune”.

Microsoft created the “Microsoft Endpoint Manager” suite of tools centered around Intune and Azure Active Directory.

It made sense at that point to move Configuration Manager out of System Center and into MEM in 2019, since it was the chief “Endpoint Manager” tool for on-prem systems.

As a result, the “Configuration Manager” name stayed, but because it was part of a new suite, it became known as Microsoft Endpoint Manager Configuration Manager (MEMCM).

At some point Microsoft dropped a “Manager” from the name, referring to it as Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager in the docs.

Kind of confusing!

Microsoft’s current branding puts it under their Microsoft Enterprise Mobility and Security solutions, but Microsoft Docs still separate Endpoint Manager as a sub-section of EMS.

So as of today, Microsoft’s offering is “Endpoint Manager”, which chiefly involves Azure AD, Intune and ConfigMgr, and has expanded to include Autopilot (part of Intune) and Co-Management (using ConfigMgr and Intune together).

Why Do We Still Call it SCCM? I Blame Google And Reddit

One of the big advantages of Configuration Manager is how much support there is online — if you’ve had an issue, dozens of other people have probably posted about the same thing.

But they posted their question about SCCM. Calling it SCCM. Because they posted their issue 3+ years ago, when SCCM is what it was called.

If you’re Googling support questions about Configuration Manager (as everyone does), you’re probably going to find it on a subreddit called /r/sccm, or a message board where someone else refers to it that way.

That means the acronym is sort of inescapable.

Also, most IT professionals working with ConfigMgr have probably used it longer than 2 years, and they’re just used to calling it SCCM.

Some longtime pros may even still call it SMS.

An Effort to Call it ConfigMgr Has Taken Hold

To recap, the most common way I still see it referred to is SCCM.

However, ConfigMgr has been around as an abbreviation since its name change from SMS. Microsoft docs URLs use it. Microsoft employees on Reddit like it, and some Microsoft teams apparently refer to it that way, too.

It’s the most accurate way to refer to the app; the “Configuration Manager” name didn’t change once it moved to the Endpoint Manager suite.

To Recap…

  • SMS – The veterans know
  • SCCM – Typical way I see it still referred to today, but inaccurate
  • ConfigMgr – Second-Most typical way I see it referred to. Accurate abbreviation for MECM. Some Microsoft teams use this.
  • MECM – The full acronym for ConfigMgr, as it exists as part of Endpoint Manager

Craig Wall is a public sector systems administrator with experience in deployment and print management.

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