SCCM | Business Hours and Maintenance windows explained

Business hours and Maintenance windows concepts explained in SCCM with examples.


First of all definitions:

·         Deadline – Is the time that a deployment installation will be enforced.

User can’t delay (postpone) software to install after the deadline. The system is designed to provide guarantees that you can rely on software being installed at the deadline. However the deadline can be missed if:

o   The computer was not powered on at the time the deadline was reached

o   A maintenance window was scheduled for the machine ad the deadline was reached before the maintenance window was available

·         Maintenance windows – A maintenance window is a period of time reserved to perform software deployment tasks. Usually Software Deployments, Software Updates Deployments, OS deployments will only run during a maintenance window when one is defined. You can define Maintenance Windows in any device collection properties.

In our case we will define a Maintenance Window Saturday in the morning 01:00 AM until 05:00 AM (4 hours) recurring in every week.

We have a deployment with a deadline at 05:00 PM Thursday. Our maintenance windows is Saturday morning at 02:00 AM so no Maintenance Window available at deployment deadline! So, the system automatically defers the deployment and schedules it to run at the next available Maintenance Window. The deadline was at 05:00 PM Thursday but since next available Maintenance Window is available at 01:00 AM the deployment gets deferred at 01:00 Am Saturday.

·         Business Hours - Business Hours are the period of time when normally the end user has daily works to do, in other words when the user don’t want to be disturbed by maintenance works. By default Business Hours are from 05:00 AM until 10 PM Monday through Friday. The business hours are configured in Software Center on client computers. Both Maintenance Window and outside of Business Hours are to periods of time when it is the best time for deployments because the system is expected to be idle.

In our case the deadline four our deployment is right in the middle of the user business hours! That’s not good for the user because he wants to be insured that the software installation doesn’t interrupt his work. So let’s configure other element in our deployment the Available After time. When you defined a software deployment you can specified when the deployment becomes available to client computers. Four our example let’s set the time Monday at 02:00 PM. The Available After time triggers a Software Center notification indicating that new software is required to be installed. When the user clicks on the notification he see a dialog box where he can chose his installation options.

o   If clicks “Install now” the software will install immediately. Even the deadline wasn’t until few days from now, the user decide that now is the best time to make the installation.

o   If clicks “Install later” the software installation time gets deferred to the next available “non-business hours” time. In our case that means he has now schedule the software to be installed at 10:00 PM Monday night.

o   If the user simply ignore the notification or close the installation option dialog without choosing an installation option, the deployment will sit ”idle” until three things happens:

§  User install the software from Software Center by clicking the “Install” button

§  User schedule it to install during “non-business hours” by clicking the “Schedule” button from software center

§  The deadline is reached

The user could also right-click the notification icon at any time and click “View Required Software” to redisplay the installation options dialog.  

                Now if the user doesn’t want to be bothered with all these notifications and he just really wants that the software to be installed when he isn’t not working, he need to configure in Software Center automatic installation option. By selecting the option “Automatically install or uninstall required software and restart the computer only outside of the specified business hours”, any required software that is deployed to the computer will install at the next available “non-business hours” time. Related with our example if the “automatic install” was selected the installation it will start Tuesday at 10:00 PM.

So to resume you have configured business hours from 10:00 PM to 07:00 AM Monday to Friday and Maintenance window each Saturdays at 01:00 AM. You will create a deployment with “Available After” time Tuesday 02:00 PM and deadline Friday at 05:00 PM. What happens next now depends on our end user. Once he is notified Tuesday at 02:00 PM about new software is required he has four options:

·         Install the software now. In this case, both “non-business hours” and Maintenance Windows are ignored. The software it will be installed immediately.

·         Install the software “later”. In this case the software becomes scheduled to install after the business hours are over. In other words it will be installed Tuesday at 10 PM.

·         Do nothing. If the user ignored the messages or indicates he wants to be reminding later, Software Center does not schedule the installation. If this condition continues on until the deadline (in other words, the user has taken no action to schedule or install the software), the software get go to the deadline and check for a maintenance window. At that point, the deployment will wait until the maintenance window before installing. So in our case the software it will be installed Saturday at 01:00 AM.

·         Select the “Automatically install” option from software center. In this case the software center schedule the software install after the business hours, in our case Tuesday at 10:00 PM.

So to recap, Maintenance Windows and Business Hours are targeted to the different audiences. Administrators configure maintenance windows to prevent software from installing except during a specific period of time. End Users set the business hours to indicate when they prefer software to be installed ahead of the deadline so that it doesn’t interrupt their work.