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Introduction to Content Management in Configuration Manager

Updated: July 1, 2013

Applies To: System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP1, System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager

Content management in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager provides the tools for you to manage content files for applications, packages, software updates, and operating system deployment. Before you can deploy software to Configuration Manager clients, the distribution point infrastructure must be in place, and the content files must be available on the distribution points.

For additional information about content management, see the following sections:

Configuration Manager uses distribution points to store files that are required for software to run on client computers. Clients must have access to at least one distribution point from which they can download the files. For more information about distribution points, see the following topics:

When you install and configure a distribution point, you have the option to assign boundary groups to the distribution point. When the client’s current network location is in a boundary group that is associated with the distribution point, it is considered a preferred distribution point for that client. When a client requests content, the client first connects to a preferred distribution point to retrieve the application or package content. If the content is not available on any preferred distribution points, depending on the configuration options that you set, the client can retrieve the content from a fallback distribution point. For more information, see the Planning for Preferred Distribution Points and Fallback section in the Planning for Content Management in Configuration Manager topic.

You can configure bandwidth settings, throttling settings, and create a schedule for content distribution between the site server and distribution point from the distribution point properties. You can configure a schedule and set specific throttling settings on remote distribution points that determine when and how Configuration Manager distributes content. For distribution points not installed on the site server, you can configure different settings that help address network bandwidth limitations from the site server to the distribution point. The scheduling and throttling settings for distribution points are similar to the settings for a standard sender address.

For more information about bandwidth throttling and scheduling, see the following:

You have the option to enable PXE and multicast in the properties of a distribution point. Configuration Manager uses PXE and multicast during operating system deployment.

For System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP1 and System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager only:

Beginning with Configuration Manager SP1, you can configure individual distribution points to be pull-distribution points. Use of pull-distribution points can help reduce the processing load on the site server when you deploy content to a large number of distribution points at one site. By default, the primary site server transfers content that you distribute to the distribution point. However, when you configure a distribution point to be a pull-distribution point, you change how Configuration Manager distributes content to that distribution point computer. When you distribute content to a pull-distribution point, the site server notifies the pull-distribution point which then initiates the transfer of the content from a source distribution point.

For more information about pull-distribution points, see the Planning for Pull-Distribution Points section in the Planning for Content Management in Configuration Manager topic.

Distribution point groups provide a logical grouping of distribution points for content distribution. You can add one or more distribution points from any site in the Configuration Manager hierarchy to the distribution point group. You can also add the distribution point to more than one distribution point group. This lets you manage and monitor content from a central location for distribution points that span multiple sites. When you distribute content to a distribution point group, Configuration Manager distributes the content to all distribution points that are members of the distribution point group. If you add a distribution point to the distribution point group after an initial content distribution, Configuration Manager automatically distributes the content to the new distribution point member. You can also associate a collection to a distribution point group. When you distribute content to a collection, Configuration Manager determines the distribution point groups associated with the collection, and then the content is distributed to all distribution points that are members of distribution point groups. For more information about distribution point groups, see the following:

You can prestage content to add the content files to the content library on a site server or distribution point before you distribute the content. Because the content files are already in the content library, they are not transferred over the network when you distribute the content. You can prestage content files for applications and packages. In the Configuration Manager console, you select the content that you want to prestage, and then use the Create Prestaged Content File Wizard to create a compressed prestaged content file that contains the files and associated metadata for the content. Then, you can manually import the content at a site server or distribution point. When you import the prestaged content file on a site server, the content files are added to the content library on the site server, and then registered in the site server database. When you import the prestaged content file on a distribution point, the content files are added to the content library on the distribution point, and a status message is sent to the site server that informs the site that the content is available on the distribution point.

You can optionally configure the distribution point as prestaged to help manage content distribution. Then, when you distribute content you can choose whether you want to always prestage the content on the distribution point, prestage the initial content for the package and then use the standard content distribution process when there are updates to the content, or always use the standard content distribution process for the content in the package. For more information about prestaging content, see the following:

You can manage your content from the properties of distribution points, distribution point groups, and package types (for example, applications, deployment packages, and driver packages). From the distribution point and distribution point properties, you can review all package types that are assigned for distribution. In the package properties, you can review all distribution points and distribution point groups in which the package has been distributed. You can redistribute, validate, or remove the content in the properties for the objects. For more information about how to manage content files, see the following sections in the Operations and Maintenance for Content Management in Configuration Manager topic:

The content library stores all content files for software updates, applications, operating system deployment, and so on. The content library is located on each site server and on each distribution point and provides a single instance store for content files. Before Configuration Manager downloads content files to the site server and copies the files to distribution points, Configuration Manager verifies whether each content file is already in the content library. If the content file is available, Configuration Manager does not copy the file to the distribution point, but instead associates the existing content file with the application or package.

On computers where you install a distribution point, you can configure the disk drives on which you want to create the content library, and you can configure a priority for each drive. Configuration Manager copies the content files to the drive with the highest priority until that drive contains less than a minimum amount of free space that you specify. You configure the drive settings during the distribution point installation. You cannot configure the drive settings in the distribution point properties after installation completes. For more information about how to configure the drive settings for the distribution point, see the Install and Configure the Distribution Point section in the Configuring Content Management in Configuration Manager topic.

ImportantImportant
For System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP1 and System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager only:

To move the content library to a different location on a distribution point after the installation, use the Content Library Transfer Tool in the System Center 2012 Configuration Manager Service Pack 1 Toolkit. You can download the toolkit from the Microsoft Download Center.

By default, Configuration Manager creates a content library on the central administration site when the site installs. The content library is placed on the drive of the site server that has the most free disk space. Because you cannot install a distribution point on the central administration site, you cannot prioritize the drives for use for the content library. Similar to the content library on other site servers and on distribution points, when the drive that contains the content library runs out of available disk space, the content library automatically spans to the next available drive.

Configuration Manager uses the content library on the central administration site in the following scenarios:

  • When you create content at the central administration site.

  • When you migrate content from another Configuration Manager site, and assign the central administration site as the site that will manage that content.

noteNote
When you create content at a primary site and then distribute it to a different primary site or a secondary site below a different primary site, the central administration site temporarily stores that content in the scheduler inbox on the central administration site but does not add that content to its content library.

Use the following options to manage the content library on the central administration site:

  • To prevent the content library from installing on a specific drive, create an empty file named no_sms_on_drive.sms and copy it to the root folder of the drive before the content library is created.

  • After the content library is created, use Content Library Transfer tool from the System Center 2012 Configuration Manager Service Pack 1 Toolkit to manage the location of the content library. You can download the toolkit from the Microsoft Download Center.

The Configuration Manager console provides content monitoring that includes the status for all package types in relation to the associated distribution points, the status of content assigned to a specific distribution point group, the state of content assigned to a distribution point, and the status of optional features for each distribution point. For more information about monitoring content, see the Monitor Content section in the Operations and Maintenance for Content Management in Configuration Manager topic.

You can enable content validation on distribution points to verify the integrity of distributed packages. You can configure content validation to run on a schedule. Or, you can manually start content validation from the properties for distribution points, distribution point groups, and package types. You can view status reports in the Monitoring workspace in the Configuration Manager console. For more information about content validation, see the following:

noteNote
The information in this section also appears in the Getting Started with System Center 2012 Configuration Manager guide.

The following items are new or have changed for content management since Configuration Manager 2007.

  • Branch distribution points were available in Configuration Manager 2007 to distribute content, for example, to a small office with limited bandwidth. In System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, there is only one distribution point type with the following new functionality:

    • You can install the distribution point site system role on client or server computers.

    • You can configure bandwidth settings, throttling settings, and schedule content distribution between the site server and distribution point.

    • You can prestage content on remote distribution points and manage how Configuration Manager updates content to the prestaged distribution points.

    • The PXE service point and the associated settings are in the properties for the distribution point.

  • In Configuration Manager 2007, you configure a distribution point as protected to prevent clients outside the protected boundaries from accessing the distribution point. In System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, preferred distribution points replace protected distribution points.

  • Distribution point groups provide a logical grouping of distribution points for content distribution. You can add one or more distribution points from any site in the Configuration Manager hierarchy to the distribution point group. You can also add the distribution point to more than one distribution point group. This expanded functionality lets you manage and monitor content from a central location for distribution points that span multiple sites.

  • The content library in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager is the location that stores all content files for software updates, applications, operating system deployment, and so on. The content library provides a single instance store for content files on the site server and distribution points, and provides an advantage over content management functionality in Configuration Manager 2007. For example, in Configuration Manager 2007, you might distribute the same content files multiple times by using different deployments and deployment packages. The result was that the same content files were stored multiple times on the site server and on distribution points and added unnecessary processing overhead and excessive hard disk space requirements.

  • You can prestage content, which is the process to copy content, to the content library on a site server or distribution point before you distribute the content. Because the content files are already in the content library, Configuration Manager does not copy the files over the network when you distribute the content.

  • The Configuration Manager console provides content monitoring that includes the status for all package types in relation to the associated distribution points, the status of content assigned to a specific distribution point group, the state of content assigned to a distribution point, and the status of optional features for each distribution point.

  • You can enable content validation on distribution points to verify the integrity of packages that have been distributed to the distribution point.

  • In Configuration Manager 2007, content files are automatically distributed to the disk drive with the most amount of free space. In System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, you configure the disk drives on which you want to store content and configure the priority for each drive when Configuration Manager copies the content files.

  • BranchCache has been integrated in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager so that you can control usage at a more detailed level. You can configure the BranchCache settings on a deployment type for applications and on the deployment for a package.

The following items are new for content management in Configuration Manager SP1.

  • You can configure the drive location for the content library in the Create Site System Server Wizard and Add Site System Roles Wizard when you create the distribution point site role.

  • You can configure some distribution points as pull-distribution points. When you distribute content to a pull-distribution point, the Configuration Manager site server does not transfer the content that you distribute to the distribution point computer. Instead, Configuration Manager notifies the pull-distribution point which then transfers the content from a source distribution point that you specify.

The following items are new or have changed for content management in System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager.

  • The following changes are introduced for pull-distribution points:

    • Pull-distribution points support the prioritization of their source distribution points. A priority can be assigned to one or more source distribution points, and the pull-distribution point attempts to locate content from a distribution point assigned to the lowest numbered priority before attempting to contact a distribution point associated with the next higher numbered priority.

    • Pull-distribution points push status for completed actions to the site server. This replaces the requirement to have Distribution Manager (distmgr) on the site server poll each pull-distribution point periodically to obtain this status, and helps to reduce the overall processing load for distmgr on the site server.

  • From the Distribution Status node in the Monitoring workspace of the Configuration Manager console, you can cancel distributions that are in progress to a distribution point, and redistribute distributions that have failed.

  • You can use the new built-in report named Distribution point usage summary, to view details about how individual distribution points are utilized, including how many unique clients access the distribution point, and how much data transfers from the distribution point.

  • You can configure multiple Network Access Accounts at each site. For more information, see Configuring Site Components in Configuration Manager.

  • Clients that use Windows BranchCache to download content and that have a download interrupted now resume the download where it left off, without having to restart the download from the beginning.

  • The following additional optimizations are introduced to improve performance during deployment of content:

    • Each time Configuration Manager transfers content to a distribution point, it calculates the speed of the transfer. During subsequent content deployment, this information is used to prioritize which distribution points receive content first. This is done to maximize the number of distribution points that receive content in the shortest period of time.

    • To improve concurrent distributions, when Configuration Manager validates content on distribution points, it validates up to 50 files during each WMI call to a distribution point. Prior to this version, Configuration Manager used a single WMI call to a distribution point to validate each individual file.

See Also

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For additional resources, see Information and Support for Configuration Manager.

Tip: Use this query to find online documentation in the TechNet Library for System Center 2012 Configuration Manager. For instructions and examples, see Search the Configuration Manager Documentation Library.
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