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About Computers, Computer Groups, and Discovery in Essentials

Updated: May 3, 2010

Applies To: System Center Essentials 2010

To use any System Center Essentials 2010 feature, such as software deployment on a managed computer, a computer must be have been discovered and have a management agent installed on it. In Essentials 2010, a computer group is a logical collection of managed computers that you want to manage as a unit. Typically, the computers in a computer group share some common characteristic. Essentials 2010 contains several predefined computer groups, but you can also create your own.

Before a computer can be added to a computer group, the Essentials 2010 management agent must be deployed on that computer.

Discovering and Preparing Computers for Management

Computers that you want to manage by using Essentials 2010 must first be discovered and then be prepared for management by installing an agent on the discovered computers.

Discovery is the process Essentials 2010 uses to search for computers and network devices to be managed in your environment. You can then browse the list of objects that were discovered and select the objects that you want Essentials 2010 to manage. Essentials 2010 installs a management agent on discovered computers, but will not install an agent on a network device. Network devices will instead be managed remotely by the Essentials 2010 management server.

An agent is the Essentials 2010 component that you install on a computer to let the Essentials 2010 management server manage the computer. The agent communicates with the management server, sending data from the managed computers to the management server and downloading data from the management server to the managed computers. The agent also runs tasks on the managed computers.

Discovering computers and installing an agent on them are integral processes and run centrally from the Essentials management server when you run the Computer and Device Management Wizard. The wizard discovers computers in your environment and then installs an agent on each of the computers that you chose to manage.

Initial Discovery

Prepare computers for discovery immediately after installing Essentials 2010. Before discovering computers, be sure to complete the Configure System Center Essentials Wizard, in which you can configure the firewall exceptions to make computer discovery and agent installation successful.

Subsequent Discoveries

After the initial discovery is complete, new computers can be discovered by one of the following methods:

  • When enabled by using the Configure System Center Essentials Wizard, the Scheduled Discovery process runs once a day. An option is provided in the Settings view of the Administration pane to change this interval.

  • Manually run the Discovery Wizard. For more information, see How to Discover and Prepare Objects for Management in Essentials.

Default Computer Groups

Essentials 2010 provides several predefined computer groups, as follows:

  • All Windows Clients (n) Includes all managed computers that are running a non-server-based operating system.

  • All Windows Computers (n) Includes all computers.

  • All Windows Servers (n) Includes all managed computers that are running a server-based operating system.

These default computer groups are dynamic. When you discover and deploy the agent to computers in your organization, the new computers automatically join the appropriate computer groups.

If you have the Virtualization Management component installed, Essentials 2010 also displays an All Virtual Machines group, which lists all virtual machines, whether managed or unmanaged by Essentials 2010. If you have followed the procedures to designate a host server, create or import a virtual machine, and then install an operating system and guest services on the virtual machine, Essentials 2010 can discover it as if it were a physical computer.

Using Computer Groups

All Essentials 2010 features require using computer groups. However, there is a slight difference in how you interact with computer groups depending on the purpose of the computer group. To interact with computer groups that are used for monitoring, in the Essentials 2010 console, click Authoring, and then expand Groups. To interact with computer groups that are used for all other purposes, click Computers.

Computer Groups That Are Used for Monitoring

A monitoring computer group is associated with a management pack that contains the definition of the computer group. By default, several management packs are installed during Essentials 2010 setup. Those management packs typically contain computer groups that are relevant to the management pack, and which let you monitor the computers that are members of that group.

The members list of a monitoring computer group can be static or dynamic. You can define a list of specific computers, or you can define a formula that re-evaluates at a regular interval and updates the member list as necessary.

If you want to use a monitoring computer group for other purposes, you must manually extend the functionality of that group. Click Computers, and create a new computer group based on the monitoring group that you need.

Computer Groups That Are Used for Features Other Than Monitoring

The computer groups that are used for software deployment, update management, and inventory are automatically made available for monitoring purposes. This includes the default computer groups and any new computer groups that you create by using the New Computer Group – Properties dialog box. For example, after you create a new computer group for software deployment, if you select Authoring and expand Groups, the newly created computer group is listed.

The members list of those computer groups can be either a list of specific computers or a list based on an existing monitoring computer group. When specifying a monitoring computer group, the name of the new group is identical to the name of the monitoring group, and the members of the specified monitoring computer group become members of the new computer group. This is a dynamic computer group. When a new computer joins the monitoring computer group, it automatically joins this new computer group.

If you delete a computer group that is based on a monitoring computer group, the original monitoring computer group is not deleted; however, it is no longer available for use with any feature other than monitoring. For example, you can no longer deploy software to the deleted computer group.

See Also