Network Considerations

The same activities that affect server performance can also affect network bandwidth utilization. Network Monitor is an effective tool to use to determine how SMS - and other network-related - processes affect network bandwidth utilization. All of the activities outlined in the preceding section can affect network bandwidth whenever those activities require communication between the SMS client and the SMS site server or between one site server and another site server. Additional SMS activities that affect the network are:

Polling intervals for client agents

The Advanced Client policy polling interval on clients is configurable on a site-wide basis. It determines the amount of load placed on the management point. It also determines the number of queries made by the management point to the SQL Server computer.

The more clients you have in a site, and the more frequently you configure client agent polling intervals, the more traffic polling generates on the network. The following client agents have configurable polling intervals:

  • Hardware Inventory Client Agent

  • Software Inventory Client Agent

  • Advertised Programs Client Agent

  • Software Metering Client Agent

The Advanced Client polling intervals are based on those scheduled for software distribution in the Advertised Programs Client Agent. This includes requests for:

  • Site assignment

  • New Advanced Client policy

  • Location requests

Polling intervals for discovery methods

The process of discovering objects involves the request for an object, and a response containing basic information about the object such as its name or IP address. DDRs are relatively small (1 K on average). Nevertheless, the type and frequency of discovery that you configure can result in a large number of DDRs that are generated for specific periods of time.

  • Windows User Account Discovery

  • Windows User Group Discovery

If you enable Windows User Account Discovery or Windows User Group Discovery, you specify when the discovery method polls each domain. Discovery generates a new DDR for all user accounts or group accounts in each domain.

  • Heartbeat Discovery

  • Network Discovery

If you enable Heartbeat Discovery or Network Discovery, you specify the schedule when you want the discovery to occur. With Network Discovery you also configure how long you want discovery to run. To reduce network traffic, run Network Discovery from different servers, using a different configuration and schedule on each server.

  • Active Directory System Discovery

  • Active Directory User Discovery

  • Active Directory System Group Discovery

With the Active Directory discovery methods, SMS polls the closest Active Directory server to discover computers, users, or system groups in the containers specified. This process can cause significant network traffic, so you should plan to schedule it accordingly.

File sizes

The size of these files affects the load on the network when they propagate up the SMS hierarchy:

  • MIF

  • Collected files

  • Site control file

  • Status summarizers

  • Software metering summarization files

The size of these files affects the load on the network when they propagate down the SMS hierarchy:

  • Software metering rules (Meterrules.xml)

  • SMS_def.mof

  • Files related to software distribution

Client component installation

Every network-based client installation method that you choose to install the SMS client software on a computer consumes network bandwidth. SMS clients receive their component files from either a CAP for Legacy Clients or a management point for Advanced Clients. The number of files that are downloaded and the amount of bandwidth that is used depends on the client agents you configure. The method you choose can have some marginal effect on the amount of bandwidth. Installation methods include the following:

  • Logon Script-based Client Installation

  • Server Locator Point-based Client Installation

The logon script-based client installation method uses a logon script to run Capinst.exe or a manual client installation. Capinst.exe finds a server locator point that provides the SMS client with a list of CAPs (for Legacy Client installation) or management points (for Advanced Client installation). A manual client installation can specify a CAP or management point to use for client installation. In either scenario, you have the added server and network performance overhead associated with running a logon script.

  • Software Distribution-based Client Installation

Using SMS software distribution to install the SMS client software adds the additional network bandwidth and server performance loads associated with the SMS software distribution process.

  • Manual Client Installation

Because you or the user initiates manual installation, you can control when and from what network location the SMS client software is installed. You can avoid periods of heavy network bandwidth utilization and the use of WAN connections.

  • Client Push Installation

  • Client Push Installation Wizard (resource-based and collection-based)

Client Push Installation finds newly discovered computers, initiates a remote connection to the computer, and installs the SMS client software. This method does not have the additional server performance load and network bandwidth load associated with the logon script installation method or manual installation method.

The Client Push Installation Wizard controls installation of SMS client software by targeting collection membership or the results of an SMS query reducing the number of clients that are installed.

  • Advanced Client Installer

The Advanced Client Installer is the manual method of installing the Advanced Client software. This method uses CCMSetup.exe to download the Advanced Client software to the computer before initiating the client installation. Because you or the user runs the Advanced Client Installer, you can control when and from what network location the Advanced Client software is installed. Similar to the manual installation method, in this scenario you can avoid periods of heavy network bandwidth utilization and the use of WAN connections.

For more information about installation methods, see Chapter 4, "Understanding SMS Clients."

Status messages and status filter rules

Most SMS components produce status messages. Its default settings are reasonable for most environments. However, how you configure the following three aspects of the SMS status system determines how much bandwidth status messages consume:

  • Status reporting

  • Status filter rules

  • Status summarizers

Filtering unnecessary status messages, and controlling how status messages are replicated from site to site can significantly reduce the amount of network traffic that status messages generate.

Remote secondary site installations

If you install the secondary site from the primary site server (by using the SMS Administrator console), then you potentially consume a great deal of bandwidth because all necessary installation files are downloaded from the primary site across the network connection, and because the network connection can include a WAN connection. Installing from a mapped network drive also produces significant network traffic. Alternatively, you can insert the SMS 2003 disc in a CD drive on the secondary site server and have SMS install all files from the local disc. The latter produces less network traffic than installing a secondary site from the primary site server.

Remote SQL Server

SMS and SQL Server communicate constantly. It is not recommended that you install your SMS site database SQL Server on a computer other than the SMS site server computer. If you must have SQL Server installed on a remote computer, then analyze the intervening network connection to ensure that it is well-connected. You might consider installing a second network adapter in both the SMS site server and the SMS site database server, and then dedicating this second card for communications between the site server and the computer running SQL Server.

You can significantly increase the performance of SMS if the SMS site database and the SMS site server are both on the same computer, provided that computer has sufficient processing power to accommodate both roles.

Server locator point queries

SMS clients access server locator points when Capinst.exe is run to resolve site assignment and to provide a list of CAPs to the Legacy Client and a list of management points to the Advanced Client. Advanced Clients access a server locator point under the following conditions:

  • The Advanced Client is not yet assigned to a site and is in auto-assign mode.

  • Active Directory is not yet extended with SMS extensions, and SMS is not publishing its component servers to Active Directory.

  • The server locator point has been registered in WINs.

In this scenario, the Advanced Client accesses the server locator point at every auto-assignment cycle until the client is assigned to an SMS site.

The network bandwidth utilization for a single client is insignificant. As more clients access the server locator point, network bandwidth utilization grows proportionately.

Package download for software distribution

Within an SMS site, package source files are sent when the SMS administrator designates a distribution point. In this scenario, SMS copies all package source files to the distribution point without compressing the files. This can place a significant load on network bandwidth utilization.

When SMS sends package source files to a distribution point at an SMS child site, those files are compressed first. When they are received at the SMS child site, they are uncompressed and sent to the designated distribution point. In this second scenario, you can control how network bandwidth is utilized during site-to-site communications.

SQL Server database replication

Server locator points and management points can be configured to perform SQL Server database replication. This adds a new path for network traffic from the management point or server locator point to another SQL Server database. When you configure a site system to use a different database, the data is replicated from the SMS site database to the replicated database. Replication occurs thereafter each time a related setting is changed on the site server. This reduces the performance load on the SMS site database and reduces network bandwidth utilization if the replicated database is on the same server as the server locator point or management point.

Active Directory authentication

SMS activities authenticate in various ways, some more frequently than others. Authentication by SMS processes can affect network bandwidth, although the impact is minimal. Keep in mind that a large site with a lot of clients must respond to a greater number of authentication requests from those clients. Try to avoid client authentication over a WAN link.

Software metering

Be aware that, as the number of software programs monitored by software metering increases, the load on the network increases. Network traffic also depends on how you configure the software metering data collection schedule and the software metering rules download schedule.

Proxy management point

Advanced Clients can be assigned only to a primary site. Advanced Clients that roam to a secondary site across a WAN link can produce a significant load on network bandwidth utilization because client status and hardware or software inventory data is sent to the parent primary site. Advanced Client policy requests from the Advanced Client also reduce the available bandwidth between the two sites.

Installing a proxy management point at the secondary site can significantly reduce the effect on available network bandwidth created by Advanced Clients located within that site's roaming or site boundaries. Advanced Clients send inventory and status data to the proxy management point. The proxy management point uses the SMS site's sender functionality to transfer the data to the primary site. The SMS administrator can control how the sender utilizes bandwidth. Because proxy management point also caches some policy information, Advanced Clients can obtain this policy information from the proxy management point, rather than from the management point at the primary site.

For more information about implementing management points and proxy management points, see Chapter 8, "Designing Your SMS Sites and Hierarchy."

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