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Introduction to Collections in Configuration Manager

Updated: October 27, 2014

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

Collections in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager provide you with the means to organize resources into manageable units, which then enable you to create an organized structure that logically represents the kinds of tasks that you want to perform. Collections are also used to perform Configuration Manager operations on multiple resources at one time. The following table shows some examples for how you might use collections in Configuration Manager:

 

Operation

Example

Grouping resources

You can create collections that logically group resources that are based on your organization’s hierarchy.

For example, you could create a collection of all computers that reside in the ‘London Headquarters’ Active Directory Organizational Unit (OU). For more information about how to create this type of collection, see How to Create Collections in Configuration Manager.

You could then use this collection to perform operations such as configuring Endpoint Protection settings, configuring device power management settings, or installing the Configuration Manager client.

Application deployment

You can create a collection of all computers that do not have Microsoft Office 2013 installed and then deploy this software to all computers in that collection.

noteNote
You can also use application requirements to perform this task. For more information, see How to Create Applications in Configuration Manager.

Managing client settings

Although the default client settings in Configuration Manager apply to all devices and all users, you can create custom client settings that apply to a collection of devices or a collection of users.

For example, if you want remote control to be available on all but a few devices, configure the default client settings to allow remote control and then configure custom client settings that do not allow remote control. Deploy these custom client settings to a collection that contains the computers that will not use remote control.

For more information about how to use collections for client settings, see About Client Settings in Configuration Manager.

Power management

For each collection that you create, you can configure power settings such as how soon computers in the collection go into sleep mode when they are inactive.

For more information about how to use collections with power management, see Power Management in Configuration Manager.

Role-based administration

Collections can be used with role-based administration to control which groups of users have access to various functionality in the Configuration Manager console.

For more information about how configure collections for role-based administration, see the Planning for Role-Based Administration section in the Planning for Security in Configuration Manager topic.

Maintenance Windows

Maintenance windows provide a means by which administrative users can define a time period when various Configuration Manager operations can be carried out on members of a device collection. You can use maintenance windows to help ensure that client configuration changes occur during periods that do not affect the productivity of the organization.

For more information about maintenance windows, see How to Use Maintenance Windows in Configuration Manager.

Most management tasks rely on using one or more collections. For example, before you can deploy software updates to devices, you must identify a collection for the deployment of software updates. Although you can use the built-in collection of All Systems, using this collection for management tasks is not a best practice. In all but a testing environment, you will typically benefit from creating your own custom collections to more specifically identify the devices or users to manage.

Built-in and custom collections appear in the User Collections and Device Collections nodes in the Assets and Compliance workspace in the Configuration Manager console.

Collections that you have recently viewed appear in the Users node and in the Devices node in the Assets and Compliance workspace in the Configuration Manager console.

Configuration Manager has some built-in collections that you can use for common operations. In addition, you can create your own collections that group resources specific to your business requirements.

By default, Configuration Manager includes the following collections, which cannot be modified.

 

Collection name Description

All User Groups

Contains the user groups that are discovered by using Active Directory Security Group Discovery.

All Users

Contains the users who are discovered by using Active Directory User Discovery.

All Users and User Groups

Contains the All Users and the All User Groups collections. This collection cannot be modified and contains the largest scope of user and user group resources.

All Desktop and Server Clients

Contains the server and desktop devices that have the Configuration Manager client installed. Membership is maintained by Heartbeat Discovery.

All Mobile Devices

Contains the mobile devices that are managed by Configuration Manager. Membership is restricted to those mobile devices that are successfully assigned to a site or discovered by the Exchange Server connector.

noteNote
In Configuration Manager SP1, this collection excludes the mobile devices that are enrolled by Microsoft Intune.

All Systems

Contains the All Desktop and Server Clients, the All Mobile Devices, and All Unknown Computers collections. In Configuration Manager SP1, this collection also includes the mobile devices that are enrolled by Microsoft Intune.

This collection cannot be modified and contains the largest scope of device resources.

All Unknown Computers

Contains generic computer records for multiple computer platforms. You can use this collection to deploy an operating system by using a task sequence and PXE boot, bootable media, or prestaged media.

When you create a custom collection in Configuration Manager, the membership of that collection is determined by one or more collection rules. For information about how to configure collection rules, see How to Create Collections in Configuration Manager. There are four rules that you can use:

Direct rules let you to choose the users or computers that you want to add as members to a collection. This rule gives you direct control over which resources are members of the collection. The membership does not automatically change unless a resource is removed from Configuration Manager. Configuration Manager must discover the resources or you must import the resources before you can add them to a direct rule collection. Direct rule collections have a higher administrative overhead than query rule collections because you must modify this collection type manually.

Query rules dynamically update the membership of a collection based on a query that Configuration Manager runs on a schedule. For example, you can create a collection of users who are a member of the Human Resources organizational unit in Active Directory Domain Services. Unlike direct rule collections, this collection membership automatically updates when you add or remove new users to the Human Resources organizational unit. Query rules remove the administrative overhead of manually adding devices to the collection by using a direct rule. However, they do reduce the control you have over which computers are added to the collection. Examples of query based rules include:

  • All users in a specified OU

  • All computers that run Windows 8

  • All computers that have more than 20GB of free disk space

The include collections rule lets you include the members of another collection in a Configuration Manager collection. Configuration Manager updates the membership of the current collection on a schedule if the membership of the included collection changes.

The exclude collections rule lets you exclude the members of another collection from a Configuration Manager collection. Configuration Manager updates the membership of the current collection on a schedule if the membership of the excluded collection changes.

noteNote
If a collection includes both include collection and exclude collection rules and there is a conflict, the exclude rule takes priority over the include rule.

When you enable incremental updates for a collection, Configuration Manager periodically scans for new or changed resources from the previous collection evaluation and updates a collections membership with these resources, independently of a full collection evaluation. By default, when you enable incremental collection updates, it runs every 10 minutes and helps keep your collection data up-to-date without the overhead of a full collection evaluation.

noteNote
When you create a new collection, incremental updates are disabled by default.

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

The following table lists features that are new or that have changed in collections since Configuration Manager 2007.

 

Feature Description

User Collections and Device Collections nodes

You can no longer combine user resources and device resources in the same collection. The Configuration Manager console has two new nodes for user collections and device collections.

Sub collections

Sub collections are no longer used in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager.

In Configuration Manager 2007, sub collections had two main uses:

  • Organize collections in folders. In System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, you can now create a hierarchy of folders in which to store collections.

  • Sub collections were often used in Configuration Manager 2007 for phased software deployments to a larger collection of computers. In System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, you can use include rules to progressively increase the membership of a collection.

For more information, see How to Manage Collections in Configuration Manager.

Include collection rules and exclude collection rules

In System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, you can include or exclude the contents of another collection from a specified collection.

Incremental collection member evaluation

Incremental collection member evaluation periodically scans for new or changed resources from the previous collection evaluation and updates a collections membership with these resources, independently of a full collection evaluation. By default, when you enable incremental collection member updates, it runs every 10 minutes and helps to keep your collection data up-to-date without the overhead of a full collection evaluation.

Migration support

Collections can be migrated from Configuration Manager 2007 collections. For more information, see Planning a Migration Job Strategy in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager.

Role-based administration security scopes

You can use collections to limit access to Configuration Manager objects. For more information, see Planning for Security in Configuration Manager.

Collection resources

In Configuration Manager 2007, collections contained only resources from the site where they were created and from child sites of that site. In System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, collections contain resources from all sites in the hierarchy.

Collection limiting

In System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, all collections must be limited to the membership of another collection. When you create a collection, you must specify a limiting collection. A collection is always a subset of its limiting collection.

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 collections in Configuration Manager SP1:

  • The built-in collections are now read-only and cannot be modified.

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 collections in System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager:

  • A new management option allows you to configure maintenance windows to apply to task sequences only, software updates only, or to all deployments.

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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