System Center 2012 Unified Installer: Half-baked

Earlier this year, Microsoft released to the world a new installation option for the System Center 2012 wave of products.  This Unified Installer tool is intended to provide a single installation experience for all of the disparate System Center components.  It makes sense for Microsoft to move in this direction.  After all, now that the company has made the decision that the previously disparate component products now comprise a single product, having the ability to install all of the tools from a single installer is a natural step.

Prior to using the Unified Installer, administrators had to, in many cases, create a house of cards of prerequisites, get a SQL Server up and running and run through an installation maze to get a product installed.  The Unified Installer “is a tool that provides a single-user-interface experience for the installation of seven System Center 2012 components, including all prerequisites and Microsoft SQL Server 2008. Unified Installer provides a means of distributed installation from a central point using the existing component Setup.”

That sounds really great!  The Unified Installer gives the user a one stop shop for all System Center installation needs, even the prereqs!

Except it doesn’t.

Oh, it may appear that it does.  Once the user has jumped through about 600 hoops, the installation process just might move forward as expected.  Or, if your experience is anything like mine, you first have to download all of the items that the installer needs, including SC 2012, .NET Framework 4, SQL Server 2008 R2 and the like.  This isn’t too bad.

The Unified Installer tool also requires that you make a number of changes to the local computer policy.  These changes have to do with the way that Windows Remote Managerment (WinRM) is configured.  This process is described here (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh751269.aspx).

But, it doesn’t work.  Now, over the years, I’ve become accustomed to having to work through installation and deployment issues with Microsoft products and have become pretty good at perusing application log files and the event log.  However, the SCUI log files are all but useless… for example, once the tool initiated the installation of SQL Server, the log file wasn’t updated with the progress of that individual installation.  Further, the GUI just sat there… showing nothing.

After allowing the installer to run for around 3 hours and with it showing no progress and with the log file not showing any progress, I killed the installation.  The process was consuming all of the server’s CPU resources, so I couldn’t view the event log, either.

In short… the process is terrible.  The GUI shows nothing; nothing updates for hours at a time and so much CPU is consumed that viewing the event log is impossible.

If this is the kind of tool that Microsoft is releasing to make life a bit easier, they should just stop while they’re ahead.  The Unified Installer in its current state is an abomination that shouldn’t see the light of day.

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