Overview of System Center release options
System Center customers have their choice of release options: the Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) or the new Semi-Annual Channel(SAC). The new Semi-Annual Channel is only offered for customers with Software Assurance.
As a System Center customer, stay on the Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) or move to the new Semi-Annual Channel. Choose a release channel that works best for your business. If your requirements change, switch to a different release channel.
The Semi-Annual Channel (SAC) for System Center has been discontinued. System Center 2019 will support upgrades from two prior SAC releases so customers running System Center 1801 or System Center 1807 will be able to upgrade to System Center 2019. Configuration Manager is not impacted by the 2019 release change and will continue current branch release cadence of three times per year as detailed in Support for Configuration Manager current branch versions.
The Semi-Annual Channel is for customers who innovate quickly. With approximately two releases a year, you get new enhancements, features, and fixes almost as soon as Engineering signs off.
The first Semi-Annual Channel release was System Center, version 1801. Versions are identified by the year and month of release so version 1801 was released in January 2018.
Semi-Annual Channel releases have 18 months of support from the date of public availability. And public availability is the same month, or month following the release date. System Center, version 1801, was released in January 2018. Public availability was February 8, 2018. Support for version 1801 is available until August 8, 2019.
The Semi-Annual Channel is only offered for customers with Software Assurance, and aligns with the release and servicing model for Windows Server announced in November 2017.
Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC)
In addition to the Semi-Annual Channel, you can still use the established Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC).
LTSC is the release model you're already familiar with (formerly called the Long-Term Servicing Branch), where a new major version of System Center is released approximately every two to three years. LTSC provides five years of mainstream support and five more years of extended support. This channel is appropriate for systems requiring a longer servicing option and functional stability.
The Long-Term Servicing Channel continues to receive security and non-security updates through Update Releases (UR). However, Update Releases do not contain the new features or functionality released in the Semi-Annual Channel.
Most features introduced in the Semi-Annual Channel will be rolled into the next Long-Term Servicing Channel release. Actual functionality varies by release depending on customer feedback. System Center 2016 is the current release.
Should you use LTSC or Semi-Annual Channel?
The key differences to consider:
- Need to innovate rapidly? Do you need early access to the newest System Center features? If so, consider joining the Semi-Annual Channel by installing System Center, version 1801. As previously described, you receive new versions approximately two times a year, with 18 months of production support per release.
- Need a longer cycle and predictability? If so, consider staying on the Long-Term Servicing Channel. The current LTSC release is System Center 2016 and the next release will be System Center 2019. As previously noted, you'll have access to new versions approximately every two to three years. Each release comes with five years of mainstream support followed by five more years of extended support. LTSC releases are available to everyone, regardless of their licensing model.
Unless otherwise communicated, the minimum requirements to run the System Center Semi-Annual Channel releases are the same as the most recent System Center Long-Term Servicing Channel release.
Customers with Software Assurance can upgrade from System Center 2016 or 2012R2 to System Center, version 1801.
The Long-Term Servicing Channel receives update releases containing security updates and non-security updates. The Semi-Annual Channel, with its more frequent release cycle, does not receive update releases.
For additional information on System Center support or system requirements, see the following articles: