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System Center Configuration Manager 2007 : Configuration Manager Technology and Terminology (part 3)

10/1/2011 6:17:33 PM

Collections

Collections are logical groupings of computer systems, users, or groups. They identify objects for a variety of purposes, such as the following:

  • Pushing software

  • Viewing inventory

  • Viewing the result of a query

  • Providing remote support via remote control and remote tools

  • Grouping of systems with a common piece of hardware or software

You can populate collections using a direct membership or query membership rule. Both these methods allow the administrator to populate a collection.

Collections can have subcollections. This is useful for organizational reasons as well as for software distribution, due to the ability to advertise a package to a collection or its subcollections.

Collection security gives Configuration Manager administrators the ability to manage which administrators will have varying levels of access to specific collections. Configuration Manager 2007 uses an implementation of WBEM (Web-Based Enterprise Management) security, a standard created by the DMTF (Distributed Management Task Force).The WBEM security model leverages a class/instance model and is extremely granular. Most ConfigMgr objects have specific rights, which you can grant unique to an object.

Discovery

ConfigMgr discovers resources in a networked environment using a variety of built-in discovery methods. These discoveries create DDRs, which you can display in collections and queries. ConfigMgr has six types of discovery methods:

  • Active Directory System Group Discovery

  • Active Directory Security Group Discovery

  • Active Directory System Discovery

  • Active Directory User Discovery

  • Heartbeat Discovery

  • Network Discovery

The Active Directory discovery methods have the ability to specify LDAP paths for which you want to discover objects. Although some discovered objects such as users and groups are not capable of management, they are useful for reporting and using in query criteria to populate collections for application distribution.

Each discovery method has its own schedule, allowing configuration on a recurring interval and at non-peak times.information on discovery methods.

Software Metering

Software metering in ConfigMgr is passive, collecting data for a specified amount of time about the usage frequency of applications. Software metering gives administrators the ability to monitor specific application usage across the entire enterprise. Unlike in earlier versions, administrators no longer need to define most commonly used applications because ConfigMgr creates these rules automatically if an administrator-specified percentage of the environment is using an application.

Packages

ConfigMgr uses packages to distribute software and changes to clients. Think of a package as a change in a client’s configuration. Historically, administrators have only thought of packages as software installs. Packages can be the silent uninstallation of an application, a remediation package from a desired configuration baseline that has been strayed from, a change to a Registry key, the startup behavior of a service, and so on.

Packages are distributed to DPs where they reside for clients to access. This distributed copy of the package architecture allows efficient use of bandwidth-sensitive links and minimizes the impact to the network infrastructure. Clients can download packages into their local cache and execute them later, mitigating the scenario where hundreds of clients all run an installation off a server at the same time.

Once distributed, packages are advertised to collections, which contain computer, user, or group resources. This process allows the package command line to execute according to a strict schedule and set of parameters that determines how the package will run and how the client operating system behaves, not only while the package is installing but also after it completes.

Advertisements

Advertisements are policies that ConfigMgr clients download and execute on a schedule. Advertisements define when clients can execute the program in a package and whether to run it from a distribution point or copy it to their local cache and run it locally.

By definition, advertisements require a user to initiate launching the package command. Mandatory advertisements do not require any user input and are actually a push-install, opposed to the pull-install used with advertisements in their default mode. You can use features such as Wake On LAN (WOL) in conjunction with mandatory advertisements to minimize impact to the end-user community.

Tip: Using Mandatory Advertisements with WOL

With mandatory advertisements, the ConfigMgr administrator can keep his enterprise patched to the level desired, without any user impact or interaction. Users can shut their computer down when they leave for the day to help with the company’s green (energy-saving) initiative. An administrator can push a package out with a mandatory advertisement configured to shut down the computer on completion of the installation. When the user arrives the next day and turns on the machine, the startup completes the reboot cycle needed to complete the patch installation.


Distribution Points

ConfigMgr administrators can create DPs throughout an enterprise having a large number of client systems, thus minimizing network traffic over the WAN and slower links. Distribution points can utilize BITS, but not for throttling package traffic from the site server to the DP. BITS also allows checkpoint restarting. In other words, if there was an interruption to a download at 60% completion, using BITS allows the download to resume at that point instead of starting over again from the beginning, which is what happens when clients connect to DPs using Server Message Block (SMB) traffic. Distribution points can be installed on a system as either a package share or a server share.

Senders

Senders are located on primary and secondary sites. Senders define how ConfigMgr sites use existing network connectivity to manage the connection, ensure the integrity of transferred data, recover from errors, and close the connection if no longer needed.

Sender types include the following:

  • Standard sender

  • Courier sender

  • Asynchronous RAS sender

  • ISDN RAS sender

  • X25 RAS sender

  • SNA RAS sender

The most common sender used is the standard sender, which is the only type required when there is basic network connectivity across a LAN or WAN. Microsoft designed the courier sender for sending excessively large packages across a network with slow links. The purpose of the courier sender is to create a parcel, which is a collection of files from a package, and ship the parcel on tape or CD to the remote site location where the administrator can then load the package into the site. 

Addresses

Addresses define a site code and the security account used to communicate with a remote site. Addresses also give ConfigMgr administrators the ability to schedule when traffic can flow between the two sites by priority of the traffic, as well as the percentage of bandwidth the sites may use during communications. All communication between ConfigMgr sites use SMB and travels on TCP port 445. By default, ConfigMgr secures site-to-site communication by secure key exchange, which only needs to be defined per parent/child connection. Figure 5 displays the Rate Limits tab for the Dallas site, limiting the transfer rate used to send data to that site.

Figure 5. Properties of Configuration Manager 2007 addresses


BITS

BITS is a subcomponent of IIS, a component of Windows. Using BITS allows administrators to prioritize and throttle asynchronous file transfer between two Windows systems. BITS uses available network bandwidth to handle transfers, making them transparent to the end user’s experience. BITS monitors network traffic on the local network interface and throttles itself accordingly. BITS also provides the ability to continue transferring data when network connectivity is intermittent or unreliable by leveraging checkpoint restarting.

Task Sequences

Task sequences are new in ConfigMgr 2007. Task sequences consist of a series of customizable tasks or sequentially performed steps running in an unattended fashion on a system. Task sequences often are only thought of in the context of operating system deployments. Because you can advertise task sequences directly to client systems, you can use them for a multitude of things, including chaining a series of actions together. Task sequences allow each action in the sequence to be independent of the other, let you change the order of tasks, and allow each action to have its behavior individually defined if errors occur. Task sequences consist of actions, custom and built-in actions, conditions, and steps. Task sequences also support grouping of actions for organizational purposes.

 
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