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Configuring the Hierarchy

With the SCCM 2012 servers deployed, the next task is to configure the hierarchy. Configuration Manager 2012 deploys a more complete set of roles by default than the previous versions, but there still remain roles to be configured. The Configuration Manager 2012 console is divided into four spaces: Assets and Compliance, Software Library, Monitoring, and Administration. The hierarchy configuration takes place within the Administration space.

The Site Settings container within the Site Management node can be used to configure the different components and functionality provided by Configuration Manager. Prior to managing clients, the appropriate functionality should be implemented and configured to ensure clients are managed properly following the agent deployment.

The Configuration Manager console with the Administration space expanded is shown in Figure 3.10. This view also has the sites selected and shows the five servers that have been deployed (CM1, CM2, CM3, CM4, and CM5) in the Company XYZ infrastructure.

Figure 3.10

Figure 3.10 The Configuration Manager console Administration space.

Establishing Boundaries and Boundary Groups

Establishing site boundaries and boundary groups is one of the most important aspects of Configuration Manager. Boundaries let managed systems receive content and communicate status to the closest server in the Configuration Manager hierarchy.

The boundaries, in effect, map physical locations, based on IP address, to systems such as workstations. Boundary groups allow administrators to logically group boundaries together and then assign resources such as Distribution Points for them to use.

Boundaries can be created based on IP subnet, IPv6 prefix, IP address range, and Active Directory sites. Typically in an Active Directory environment, the Configuration Manager is based on Active Directory site boundaries. Because the Active Directory site infrastructure should already map directly to the network topology, many of the same principles that apply to an Active Directory site topology also apply to the Configuration Manager topology. For example, instead of taking all the subnets in a specific network location and adding them as a site boundary, it is much easier to add the already configured Active Directory site boundary.

That said, there are still many different scenarios and environments where using an Active Directory site boundary simply isn’t possible or practical for technical or even political justification. Configuration Manager allows a mixture of all the different boundaries. It is possible to configure different combinations of site boundaries in the console to address these scenarios.

New to Configuration Manager 2012 is the ability to have the Active Directory sites be discovered automatically in the forest. This saves a tremendous amount of time. The Active Directory forest discovery operates very similarly to the Active Directory system discovery or group discovery.

To configure Active Directory forest discovery, do the following:

  1. Launch the Configuration Manager console on the Central Administration Server.
  2. Choose the Administration space.
  3. Expand the Hierarchy Configuration and select Discovery Methods.
  4. Right-click on Active Directory Forest Discovery and select Properties.
  5. Check Enable Active Directory Forest Discovery and the check box to automatically create site boundaries.
  6. Change the Schedule option to run every day.
  7. Click OK to save changes and Yes to run the full discoveries as possible.

Once the Active Directory forest discovery is completed, the Active Directory site boundaries will be created. Figure 3.11 shows the Active Directory site boundaries created for the Company XYZ organization.

Figure 3.11

Figure 3.11 Discovered Active Directory boundaries.

Boundary groups are not discovered automatically, but rather are configured by the administrator. Boundary groups logically group the agents (through the boundaries) with resources such as Management Points and Distribution Points. This allows administrators to control where agents download their content from, thus controlling bandwidth utilization. For example, the Company XYZ organization has five locations: San Francisco, Paris, London, Tokyo, and New York. New York is the only office without a Configuration Manager 2012 Site Server. Boundary groups will be created for each location with the Site Server, so that local clients will download content from the local Site Servers. However, the New York boundary will be added to the SFO boundary group to ensure that the New York agents download content from the San Francisco Site Server. These boundary groups are shown in Figure 3.12.

Figure 3.12

Figure 3.12 Company XYZ boundary groups.

To create a boundary group (in this example the Company XYZ SFO boundary group), execute the following steps:

  1. Make sure that your Active Directory sites and subnets are configured correctly and include all subnets and physical sites in the environment.
  2. Launch the Configuration Manager console on the Central Administration Site Server.
  3. Choose the Administration space.
  4. Expand the Hierarchy Configuration and select the Boundary Groups node.
  5. Right-click on the boundary group node and select Create Boundary Group.
  6. In the general tab, enter the name of the boundary group (in this case, SFO).
  7. Click the Add button to add boundaries to the boundary group.
  8. Check the SFO boundary, and then click OK.
  9. Choose the Reference tab.
  10. In the Site Assignment section, check the Use This Boundary Group for Site Assignment check box and select the SFO site in the drop-down.
  11. In the Content Location section, click the Add button.
  12. Select the SFO Site Server and click OK.
  13. Click OK to create the boundary group.

When a server is configured within a boundary group, the server connection type defaults to Fast. The connection types are limited to Fast or Slow and are somewhat misleading. The true purpose of the connection types is during the creation of a deployment. When you want to deploy software, such as an application or patches, to a system, a deployment is needed. When configuring the deployment, several different distribution options are available. The deployment distribution options are shown inFigure 3.13.

Figure 3.13

Figure 3.13 Distribution options.

The deployment allows the administrator to specify distribution characteristics depending on the configuration of the boundary groups. For example, if you configure a server connection in the boundary group as Slow and then configure the deployment to not run when the client is connected to a slow or unreliable network boundary, the software will not run on any system that identifies itself as being within this boundary.

The remaining boundary groups for Paris, London, and Tokyo can be created following the previous procedure. Now clients in the boundaries will automatically assign themselves to the appropriate site and download content from the appropriate location.

Configuring Discovery Methods

The Active Directory System Discovery option is the most common method used to find potential systems to manage. The main advantage to the AD System Discovery option is its efficiency in a well-maintained domain. Ensure that computer accounts that are no longer used have been disabled or removed from the Active Directory domain.

To enable the Active Directory System Discovery method, do the following:

  1. From the ConfigMgr console, select the Administration space and expand the Hierarchy Configuration folder.
  2. Select the Discovery Methods node.
  3. Right-click and open the properties of the Active Directory System Discovery method for the SFO site. The SFO site will be the Company XYZ designated discovery site.
  4. Enable Active Directory System Discovery.
  5. Click the “*” button to add an AD container.
  6. Click the Browse button and then click OK to select the entire companyxyz.com domain.
  7. Accept the default options and click OK.
  8. Select the Polling Schedule tab and click the Schedule button.
  9. Change the recurrence to 1 hour and click OK.
  10. Click OK to save the changes.
  11. Click Yes at the pop-up to run the full discovery as soon as possible.

The status of the AD system discovery can be viewed in the adsysdis.log file.

To review the results of the discovery, do the following:

  1. From the ConfigMgr console, expand Asset and Compliance.
  2. Expand Overview, expand Devices, and right-click on the All Systems collection.
  3. Click Update Membership.
  4. Click Yes when prompted.
  5. Click the Refresh action.

The collection should show all of the clients in the domain.

To enable the Active Directory Group Discovery method, do the following:

  1. From the ConfigMgr console, select the Administration space and expand the Hierarchy Configuration folder.
  2. Select the Discovery Methods node.
  3. Open the properties of the Active Directory Group Discovery method for the SFO site. The SFO site will be the Company XYZ designated discovery site.
  4. Enable Active Directory Group Discovery.
  5. Click the Add button and select a location. Enter Company XYZ Domain for the Name.
  6. Click the Browse button and then click OK to select the entire companyxyz.com domain.
  7. Accept the default options and click OK.
  8. Select the Polling Schedule tab and click the Schedule button.
  9. Change the recurrence to 1 hour and click OK.
  10. Click OK to save the changes.
  11. Click Yes at the pop-up to run the full discovery as soon as possible.

The previous steps should be repeated for the Active Directory User Discovery for SFO.

The Active Directory discoveries can be triggered manually by right-clicking on the discovery method and selecting Run Full Discovery Now. The detailed results of the discovery can be seen in the log files on the discovery server. The log files for each of the discoveries are as follows:

  • Active Directory System Discovery (adsysdis.log)
  • Active Directory Group Discovery (adsgdis.log)
  • Active Directory User Discovery (adusrdis.log)

Any discovery errors or access errors will be shown in these detailed logs.

Configuring Hierarchy and Geographic Views

Configuration Manager infrastructures can be complex and hard to monitor. A very common request for administrators is to be able to view the hierarchy in a dynamic way. Another very common request is for administrators to be able to see their hierarchy map out geographically, with components in the correct place on a map. Configuration Manager 2012 delivers on both these requests.

The Configuration Manager 2012 hierarchy diagram shows the hierarchy in a graphical, dynamic, and active view. Each site is displayed in the diagram, with links and status. As sites are added and states change, the hierarchy diagram will update automatically.

Figure 3.14 shows the hierarchy diagram for Company XYZ. The diagram shows each of the five Configuration Manager 2012 Site Servers with a different icon for each site type. The overall alert status for each site is indicated as well, as can be seen in the warning state for the PAR site. Right-clicking on any component gives you detailed status, as is shown for the SFO site. The detailed status also allows you to link to key information such as site status messages and site properties.

Figure 3.14

Figure 3.14 Company XYZ hierarchy diagram.

To access the hierarchy diagram, do the following:

  1. Launch the Configuration Manager console.
  2. Select the Administration space.
  3. Select the Site Hierarchy folder.

In addition to the hierarchy diagram, there is also a geographical view. This view shows all the Site Servers on a Bing map. However, physical location information needs to be specified to enable the display of Site Servers on the map.

To specify the location information and display the geographical view, execute the following steps:

  1. Launch the Configuration Manager console.
  2. Select the Monitoring space.
  3. Select the Site Hierarchy folder.
  4. Right-click the Site Hierarchy folder and select Configure View Settings.
  5. Select the Site Location tab.
  6. For each site, enter a location. The location can be general, such as the city, or specific, such as the address.
  7. Click OK to save the changes.
  8. Right-click the Site Hierarchy folder and select Geographical View.

The view now shows a world map with the Site Servers correctly placed in their locations, as shown in Figure 3.15.

figure 3.15

Figure 3.15 Company XYZ geographical view.

Like the hierarchy view, when the geographical view is active, hovering over a site with a mouse gives a high-level alert status and subsite count. The basis for the underlying map is the Bing Map engine. The map can be viewed either as a road map or an aerial satellite view. The map can also be zoomed into, to get detailed street information. In addition, selecting a site shows site links to neighboring sites. Figure 3.16 shows a zoom into the Company XYZ European region, with expanded map detail. The Paris site has been selected, which then shows the site links, including the site link to London.

Figure 3.16

Figure 3.16 Company XYZ detailed geographical view.

Either view can be printed to capture the key information.

The hierarchy diagram and the geographical view provide exciting new and dynamic ways to view the Configuration Manager 2012 infrastructure.

Configuring Exchange Connectors

The Configuration Manager 2012 Exchange connector allows administrators to manage mobile devices that do not or cannot have agents installed on them, such as Apple iPhone, Apple iPad, or Google Android devices. Essentially any device that supports ActiveSync and is connected to Exchange Server can be managed through the connector.

To configure the Exchange connector, do the following steps:

  1. Launch the Configuration Manager console.
  2. Choose the Administration space.
  3. Expand the Hierarchy Configuration folder.
  4. Right-click on the Exchange Server Connectors node and select Add Exchange Server.
  5. In the Server Address (URL) field, enter the address of the Exchange Client Access Server. The format of the URL is http://excas.companyxyz.com/powershell.
  6. Select the Configuration Manager site to run the Exchange Server connector.
  7. Click Next.
  8. In the Account section, enter the account with which to connect to the Exchange server and click Next.
  9. In the Discovery page, leave the defaults and click Next.
  10. Adjust the policy settings as needed, and then click Next.
  11. Review the summary and click Next to create the connector.

The connector will automatically synchronize with the targeted Exchange server. The synchronization can be forced by right-clicking on the connector and selecting Synchronize Now. Mobile devices will appear shortly in the list of devices.

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