The groundwork for Centero Software Manager was laid in May 2007, when Centero Oy saw the light of day. Since the very beginning, the company’s focus has been on the strong and unique combination of expertise in both application development, IT infrastructure, and application packaging.
These areas continue to be central in Centero’s business. Especially application packaging, the very core of CSM, has been the favorite of many customers, in projects all shapes and sizes. In addition to MSI packaging, Centero has ample experience in application virtualization.
Around 2010 Centero put together a considerable number of trainings related to MSI packaging and application virtualization, mainly using App-V technology. Centero still carries out trainings, but in smaller numbers, as it has focused its resources to productized services and ready-to-use software products.
Portal and Helper to help out in application package processing
As the company begun to establish itself, the number of application packaging clients was steadily on the rise. In 2008, we launched the first version of the Centero Portal. The web portal was initially developed to make the process easier: the customers could order their application packaging online, and download the ready application packages directly from the portal.
Clients still order application packaging using the Centero Portal, but the portal was also the inspiration for the development of the Centero Management Portal.
In 2009, Centero launched an in-house tool to manage and automize the application packaging process. This tool was a significant milestone on the way to the CSM we know today. The tool mitigates human error and enhances the effectivity and quality of the packaging process, and as such, it is a key factor behind our excellent customer satisfaction level. We still use the tool in-house for packaging process management, and develop it along the way.
Tool improvement needed because of maintenance services
Windows Intune, the first version of Microsoft Intune, was launched in December 2011. Centero included Intune to its service selection immediately, as Intune’s fully cloud-based service makes device management accessible to small and medium-sized companies as well.
In 2012, Microsoft released an API to Microsoft’s SCCM device management system. Thanks to the SCCM API, Centero was able to start developing CSM for SCCM. Not long after the API was released, Centero’s development got an idea: what if we could develop the tools to configure the application distribution automatically into the SCCM?
At this stage we did not have a clear vision of turning CSM into a commercialized product we could sell to our customers. Instead, we saw CSM as an enhanced tool to cut down on our own workload in the work we were doing for our maintenance customers.
Once Microsoft Intune was released, we started to build on it to create a cloud-based device environment management service. This later turned into the Master of Ceremonies service, with Office 365 as a central component from the very beginning. First customers started using the Master of Ceremonies service in late 2012. This meant the beginning of the CSM for Intune, CSM, and SCCM services as we know them today.
Downloader makes application package processing easier
As the number of Centero’s maintenance customers grew steadily, and we started to provide application packaging for them as well, we decided to make things easier and develop the Downloader: a tool to automatize transferring ready application packages to the customers’ environments.
The Downloader, launched in the fall of 2013, also made our customers’ lives easier: the application packages were delivered directly to their own environment, meaning they no longer needed to download the packages from a portal. This was a big help for Centero’s packaging specialists as well, as they were able to bid farewell to manually transferring the packages to the customers. Downloader is the first application component still used in the CSM service.
The idea of CSM is born
During 2014 we at Centero really started to think: Would there be a market for a product that could automize the entire application package distribution process? And how could we get the packages to move through the distribution systems and on to their final destinations? With these questions in mind, we started the development work for the actual CSM service.
In 2015, we started to brainstorm on a CSM for WSUS service, and already in March 2015 we released a final product called WSUS Import Tool. The first WSUS Import customers were on board immediately after the release.
During the next six months, the product development took a significant step forward. We decided to combine the WSUS Import Tool under the same UI and brand with the SCCM component, and this marked the birth of Centero Software Manager!
In September 2015, Centero released its Centero Software Manager -branded service products, CSM for WSUS and CSM for SCCM.
In December 2015, we realized we also needed a CSM Cloud, for those customers who didn’t have a SCCM or a WSUS. After just a few months of agile development, CSM Cloud was released.
In May 2016, we launched the first version of the new Centero Management portal. The first CSM customers started using it, for example for CSM service management. Since its release, the Management portal has been continuously developed to meet our customers’ wishes and needs.
CSM for Servers developed, followed by a solution for Intune environment
In February 2017, we came up with a new version of the CSM, CSM for Servers, as we needed a solution for servers’ patch management as well. The idea was to bring CSM Cloud to the server environment. Centero’s product development had an agile six month sprint, and we were able to release the CSM for Servers in September 2017.
All in all, 2017 was a significant year for all Intune-related services. In March, Microsoft released their first application distribution options in its Graph API. They were nowhere near the level needed for continuing the development of CSM for Intune, but the idea was born and brewing.
In the fall of the same year, we were able to take the next step with CSM for Intune, as Microsoft released more Intune-related features in its admin Graph API. API was still lacking in features, but we were hopeful and waited eagerly for the next API steps that would surely make CSM for Intune possible.
In November 2018 we were finally able to start developing CSM for Intune, and it took exactly a year to get the product to the preview phase. In December 2019, the Centero Software Manager for Intune patch management tool was ready to release.
Update management for more than 200,000 workstations
CSM’s future seems bright, and we already know the next steps for product development. The agenda includes constant development, new integrations, and entering the world of mobile and Mac devices’ patch management.
We are constantly adding new features to Centero Software Management, most of them functionalities our customers have asked for. In our future CSM product development we are putting a lot of emphasis on reporting. The plan is to take reporting to a more visual level: in the future, the users can create smart business intelligence reports directly from their own IT environment.
Today, more than 100 organizations use Centero Software Manager to manage the application updates of more than 200,000 workstations. To each of these workstations, CSM distributes more than 500 application updates a year.