System Center: guide to release options and roadmap

For System Center products you have the option of choosing two different release: Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) or Semi-Annual Channel. In this article will be reported the features of each release model and what aspects should be taken into consideration to make the most correct choice. You will also see planned roadmap for releases of System Center products.

Characteristics of Semi-Annual Channel

The release channel defined Semi-Annual Channel is characterized by these elements:

  • Are released approximately two product releases every year. This releases include new features, improvements and resolution of issues.
  • The versions are identified by a four-digit number, two for the year and two for the month. To date, two versions have already been released, the 1801 (January 2018) and the 1807 (July 2018).
  • Given the rapid release cycles, there are not expected Update Releases (UR) for products belonging to this release channel.
  • The Semi-Annual Channel releases have a support of 18 months from the date of publication.
  • The use of products released in the Semi-Annual Channel is only open to Microsoft customers with a Software Assurance contract.

Considering the constant releases and the support period not particularly long, it follows that this channel is suitable for customers with the aim to innovate in a constant and fast way, to keep up with the rapid evolution of the cloud.

Characteristics of Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC)

The release model defined Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) has the following features:

  • A new major version of System Center is released approximately every two or three years. The latest version is now System Center 2016 and in the future will be released System Center 2019.
  • In the LTSC products receive updates, inclusive of security updates, through Update Releases (UR). The Update Releases (UR) do not contain the new features included in the releases belonging to the Semi-Annual Channel, which will be incorporated into the next release in the Long-Term Servicing Channel.
  • The products belonging to the LTSC have 5 years of mainstream support and more 5 years of extended support.
  • Products belonging to the Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) may be adopted by customers regardless of the licensing model that adhered (Software Assurance is not needed).

The use of the products in the Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) is appropriate in case you want to have a longer period of service of products and greater stability of the services functionality.

Additional considerations

In terms of compatibility, unless several communications, the minimum requirements to use System Center products belonging to the Semi-Annual Channel are the same as the latest version of the System Center product released in Long-Term Servicing Channel.

Customers with Software Assurance can do theupgrade of products of System Center 2016 or 2012 R2 to System Center products released in the Semi-Annual Channel model. Upgrading from release of the Semi-Annual Channel towards release belonging to the LTSC is not supported.

System Center roadmap

For System Center products was announced by Microsoft the following roadmap:

Figure 1 – System Center Roadmap

The figure below lists the currently available versions of the System Center products, with a summary of the main features introduced.

Figure 2 – Current versions of System Center and main features

In addition to the upcoming release of the Update Release 6 of System Center 2016, in the coming year will be released System Center 2019 and the new release belonging to the Semi-Annual Channel. These releases introduce new functionality to provide integration and full support of Windows Server 2019. Following, there are the next planned releases for System Center:

Figure 3 – Future releases of System Center and main features

Other useful references


With this release model of new versions of System Center products, you should make a careful choice by establishing the most suitable for your needs and your business model. To do it in the best way you should be aware of the characteristics of each model and all that it follows from this choice.

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