Software Distribution

SMS significantly reduces the time and complexity of maintaining and upgrading software for organizations with distributed networks. You can upgrade and configure each computer from a central location or from multiple locations. You can schedule individual software files or software programs for distribution to specific computers. You can also initiate unattended software installations to selected computers.

Software installation packages can come ready-to-install from Windows Installer or can be created with the SMS Installer, which is available by download and is not included with the SMS 2003 product. For more information, see Chapter 7, "Creating Software Installation Packages with SMS Installer," in the Microsoft Systems Management Server 2003 Operations Guide.

The following table summarizes important SMS 2003 software distribution features.

Table 1.2 SMS 2003 Software Distribution Features



Rich distribution

Software distribution can be directed to computers based on collected information including network and hardware configuration, group membership, and software installation status.

Dynamic distribution

If an SMS client computer is added to a group, software is automatically sent to the client according to predefined administrative settings for that group. Likewise, new computers matching predefined destination attributes (such as Internet Protocol (IP) subnet or installed video card) automatically receive specified packages or driver updates.

Courier Sender

Courier Sender allows software to be sent between SMS sites by CD or other media, rather than across the network. This is particularly useful in situations where the available network bandwidth is low or too expensive to use for the delivery of large packages.

Software program removal

SMS can be used to remove deployed software and applications from particular computers or groups.

Use of BITS technology

Software distribution uses Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) technology, which can transfer files from distribution points that are BITS-enabled. Advanced Clients use BITS technology to automatically detect the client network connection capacity and adjust transfer rates efficiently. This is supported only on clients running Windows 2000, Windows XP Professional, and Windows Server 2003 family operating systems.

Checkpoint restarts

A checkpoint is set if a file download is interrupted. The file download is resumed and proceeds from the checkpoint rather than restarting the download from the beginning. On reconnection, any partial downloads to clients continue where they left off; there is no need to restart transmissions because of a disconnected session.

Roaming boundaries

Roaming boundaries enable SMS to provide more efficient software distribution and client management for Advanced Clients that roam to other sites. Advanced Clients use roaming boundaries to find the nearest distribution point. Roaming boundaries are also used in the site assignment of Advanced Clients.

Download and run

Administrators can have clients download packages directly from an SMS 2003 distribution point. An option can be set to download the entire program to the client computer and then run the program.

Delta distribution between site servers

When changes are made to existing software package source files, only the changes, or deltas, are propagated to distribution points, rather than the entire software package. Only new or changed files are transferred, which minimizes the impact on network bandwidth.

Convert older SMS packages to Windows Installer

Existing SMS packages can be converted to packages that are compatible with Windows Installer by using SMS Installer. Administrators can also create new packages in Windows Installer format, which takes advantage of the self-repair, just-in-time installation, and enhanced software deployment tracking abilities.

Create packages from Windows Installer files

SMS 2003 can generate software packages for distribution from any Windows Installer file. Windows Installer configuration files contain all the information needed to generate an SMS software package which can support self-repair and appropriately timed installation.

Add or Remove Programs integration

An SMS software package can be advertised and configured in the Add or Remove Programs in Control Panel.

Elevated rights installations

Software packages can be installed using elevated rights. Applications requiring administrative access during installation can be partially installed with administrative privileges and still have user-specific options installed with a user account.

Protected distribution point

An administrator can assign site or roaming boundaries to a distribution point. Advanced Clients outside these boundaries are unable to download packages from the protected distribution point. This protects the distribution point from excessive network traffic.

For more information, see Chapter 5, "Distributing Software," in the Microsoft Systems Management Server 2003 Operations Guide.

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