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Understanding Configuration Manager Sites

Updated: April 1, 2010

Applies To: System Center Configuration Manager 2007, System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R2, System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R3, System Center Configuration Manager 2007 SP1, System Center Configuration Manager 2007 SP2

A Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 site defines the scope of administrative control. A site consists of a site server, site system roles, clients, and resources. A site always requires access to a Microsoft SQL Server database. There are several types of Configuration Manager 2007 sites. A Configuration Manager 2007 site uses boundaries to determine the clients belonging to the site. Multiple sites can be configured into site hierarchies and connected in such a way that you can manage bandwidth utilization between sites. A Configuration Manager 2007 site is identified by the three-character code and the friendly site name configured during Setup.

Types of Sites

When you install a site, you decide whether it will be a primary site or a secondary site. Then, as you install additional sites, you have the option to arrange them in hierarchical relationships so that there are parent sites that manage child sites, and a central site to collect all the site information for centralized management. Or, if you prefer, you can leave the sites without any connections and manage them separately, according to your business and administrative needs. For example, if your organization consists of independent business units, each unit might resist having centralized management.

Primary Sites

The first Configuration Manager 2007 site you install must be a primary site. A primary site stores Configuration Manager 2007 data for itself and all the sites beneath it in a SQL Server database. This is called the Configuration Manager 2007 site database. Primary sites have an administrative tool called the Configuration Manager 2007 console that enables the Configuration Manager 2007 administrator to directly manage the site.

Secondary Sites

A secondary site has no Configuration Manager 2007 site database. It is attached to and reports to a primary site. The secondary site is managed by a Configuration Manager 2007 administrator running a Configuration Manager 2007 console that is connected to the primary site.

The secondary site forwards the information it gathers from Configuration Manager 2007 clients, such as computer inventory data and Configuration Manager 2007 system status information, to its parent site. The primary site then stores the data of both the primary and secondary sites in the Configuration Manager 2007 site database.

The advantages of using secondary sites are that they do not require any additional Configuration Manager 2007 server license and do not incur the overhead of maintaining an additional database. Secondary sites are managed from the primary site they are connected to, so they are frequently used in sites with no local administrator present. The disadvantage of secondary sites is that they must be attached to a primary site and cannot be moved to a different primary site without deleting and re-creating the site. Also, secondary sites cannot have sites beneath them in the hierarchy.

Parent Sites

A parent site is a primary site that has one or more sites attached to it in the hierarchy. Only a primary site can have child sites. A primary site can be a child site to another primary site. A secondary site is always a child site. A parent site contains pertinent information about its lower level sites, such as computer inventory data and Configuration Manager 2007 system status information, and it can control many operations at the child sites.

Child Sites

A child site is a site that is attached to a site above it in the hierarchy. The site it reports to is its parent site. A child site can have only one parent site. Configuration Manager 2007 copies all the data that is collected at a child site to its parent site. A child site is either a primary site or a secondary site.

Central Site

A central site has no parent site. Typically, a central site has child and grandchild sites and aggregates all of their client information to provide centralized management and reporting. A site with no parent and no child site is still called a central site although it is also referred to as a stand-alone site.

Site Systems

Each site contains one site server and one or more site systems. The site server is the computer on which you install Configuration Manager 2007, and it hosts services required for Configuration Manager 2007. A site system is any computer running a supported version of Microsoft Windows or a shared folder that hosts one or more site system roles. A site system role is a function required to be able to use Configuration Manager 2007 or to use a feature of Configuration Manager 2007. Multiple site roles can be combined on a single site system, including running all site roles on the site server, but this is usually appropriate only for very small and simple environments.

The following table provides a brief description of each site system role.

 

Site System Role Description Required?

Site server

The role assigned to the server on which Configuration Manager 2007 Setup has been run successfully.

Yes. Every site must have exactly one site server role.

Site database server

The role assigned to the computer running a supported version of Microsoft SQL Server and hosting the Configuration Manager 2007 site database. You can use only Microsoft SQL Server, Standard or Enterprise Edition, to host the site database. SQL Server Express editions are not supported for hosting the site database.

noteNote
For a list of supported SQL Server versions, see Configuration Manager Supported Configurations.

Every primary site requires a site database server role, but secondary sites do not require them.

Configuration Manager console

Any computer running the Configuration Manager console.

No. The Configuration Manager console is automatically installed by default on primary site servers during Setup. You can install additional Configuration Manager consoles on remote computers—for example, the workstation of the Configuration Manager administrator. However, some organizations write their own user interface using the Configuration Manager software developer kit (SDK) and never use the Configuration Manager console.

SMS Provider computer

The Configuration Manager console does not access the database directly, but instead uses Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) as an intermediary layer. The SMS Provider is the WMI Provider for Configuration Manager.

Yes, for primary sites. When you install a primary site, you select which computer will host the SMS Provider—usually, it's the site server or the site database server.

Component server

Any computer hosting a Configuration Manager 2007 site role that requires installing special Configuration Manager 2007 services.

The only site system role that does not require the installation of a special Configuration Manager 2007 service is the distribution point.

Distribution point

A site system role that stores packages for clients to install.

Required for the following features: software distribution, software updates, and advertised task sequences used in operating system deployment.

Fallback status point

A site system role that gathers state messages from clients that cannot install properly, cannot assign to a Configuration Manager 2007 site, or cannot communicate securely with their assigned management point.

Not required, but very helpful to troubleshoot issues with clients.

Management point

The site system role that serves as the primary point of contact between Configuration Manager 2007 clients and the Configuration Manager 2007 site server.

Every site with intranet clients must have one default management point, though the default management point might be a cluster of several site systems configured as management points.

PXE service point

A site system role that has been configured to respond to and initiate operating system deployments from computers whose network interface card is configured to allow PXE boot requests.

Required only for operating system deployment using PXE boot requests.

Reporting point

A site system role hosts the Report Viewer component for Web-based reporting functionality.

Required only to use the reporting feature. Reports are often helpful when diagnosing client issues.

Server locator point

A site system role that locates management points for Configuration Manager 2007 clients.

Required for some client deployment scenarios.

Software update point

A site system role assigned to a computer running Microsoft Windows Server Update Services (WSUS).

Required only for the software update feature.

State migration point

A site system role that stores user state data while a computer is being migrated to a new operating system.

Required for operating system deployment when migrating user state.

System Health Validator point

The site system role assigned to a computer running Network Policy Service.

Required only for the Configuration Manager 2007 Network Access Protection feature.

Additional Site Systems for Configuration Manager 2007 SP1

If you have upgraded to Configuration Manager 2007 SP1, you might require additional site systems, described in the following table, to support additional features added in the service pack.

 

Site System Role Description Required?

Asset Intelligence synchronization point

A site role that is used to connect to System Center Online to manage Asset Intelligence catalog information updates.

Required only to synchronize the local Asset Intelligence catalog with System Center Online.

Out of band service point

A site system role that discovers, provisions, and manages desktop computers that have management controllers (such as AMT-based computers).

Required only for the out of band management feature.

Additional Site Systems for Configuration Manager 2007 R2

If you have upgraded to Configuration Manager 2007 R2, you might require additional site systems, described in the following table, to support additional features added in the R2 release.

 

Site System Role Description Required?

Reporting Services point

A site system role assigned to a computer running SQL Reporting Services.

Required only if you want to use SQL Reporting Services to report Configuration Manager 2007 R2 data. Integrating Configuration Manager 2007 R2 reports with SQL Reporting Services provides a richer reporting experience. However, the reporting point still works and does not require SQL Reporting Services or a Reporting Services point.

Client status reporting host system

Although the client status reporting host system site system role is not actually a site system configured in the Configuration Manager console, it is a role that can be added to a client or server computer to report back to the site server about the client computers it monitors.

Required only if using the client status reporting feature.

Site Communications

Clients communicate with site systems hosting site system roles. Site systems communicate with the site server and with the site database. If there are multiple sites connected in a hierarchy, the sites communicate with their parent, child or, sometimes, grandchild sites.

Sites are typically configured so that the clients and site systems have fast connectivity with each other, usually local area network (LAN) speed. However, Configuration Manager 2007 also supports clients that move between sites, mobile devices that connect over the cellular network, clients that connect to the organization's network through dial-up or virtual private networks (VPNs), and clients that connect to the Internet but don't connect directly into the organization's network.

Site Boundaries

Configuration Manager 2007 uses boundaries to determine when clients and site systems are in the site and outside of the site. Boundaries can be IP subnets, IP address ranges, IPv6 prefixes, and Active Directory sites. Two sites should never share the same boundaries. Assigning the same IP subnet, IP address range, IPv6 prefix, or Active Directory site to two different sites makes it difficult to determine which clients should be managed in the site.

The Configuration Manager 2007 administrator configures each boundary in the site to be either a fast or slow boundary, depending on the connection speed. If a client computer is connected to a fast boundary, such as a 10-MBPS LAN, it might install software; however, if the client computer is connected to a slow boundary, such as a dial-up network or a wireless network, it might install the software differently or not install the software at all. If the client computer connects to a boundary in a different site, Configuration Manager 2007 might be able to determine a closer source for installing the software.

Site-to-Site Communications

When you have separate sites, Configuration Manager 2007 uses senders to connect the two sites. Senders have sender addresses that help them locate the other site. When sending data between sites, senders provide fault tolerance and bandwidth management. For example, if the link between two sites goes down, the sender will attempt to re-establish the connection and resume sending where it was interrupted. If you want the sender to use only a certain percentage of the available bandwidth, you can configure the sender address to restrict how much bandwidth Configuration Manager 2007 uses at certain times of day. You can also configure the sender address to be available for only high-priority Configuration Manager 2007 communication at certain times of day, or to be completely unavailable during specified times.

Although there are several business, political, and security reasons that might cause you to have more than one site, you should typically install multiple sites when you need to cross a slow link because the senders let you manage how you use the slow link.

Intra-site Communications

When Configuration Manager 2007 components that are within the site boundaries communicate with each other, they use either server message block (SMB), HTTP, or HTTPS, depending on various site configuration choices you make. Because all of these communications are unmanaged—that is, they happen at any time with no consideration for bandwidth consumption—it is beneficial to make sure these site elements have fast communication channels.

See Also

For additional information, see Configuration Manager 2007 Information and Support.
To contact the documentation team, email SMSdocs@microsoft.com.
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