You are planning to install a Configuration Manager 2012 environment within your organization? That is great news. If you are like most organizations, you already have an earlier version of Configuration Manager in your enterprise. Given that, I wanted to take the time to explain some important changes in the hierarchy design. (For those that don’t have an earlier version, we have great documentation to help you plan your hierarchy from scratch at Getting Started with System Center 2012 Configuration Manager).
Configuration Manager 2012 infrastructure requirements are dramatically different than previous versions. There is much less infrastructure involved in a Configuration Manager 2012 implementation, which is great! But it does require changing how you approach hierarchy design. The good news is that you don’t need to throw out your old designs and your requirements won’t vary greatly. It is how you satisfy those requirements that will change.
The biggest changes
The biggest changes to hierarchy design are covered in What’s New in Configuration Manager, but I’ve called out the most important ones below:
No more primary site server reporting to primary site servers. See my blog on primary sites in ConfigMgr 2012. This is one of the biggest concepts to understand.
- Data replication occurs automatically through SQL Server to SQL Server communication rapidly without the need for file replication. More detail on this in my blog about data replication.
- Distribution points now include throttling and scheduling. It is no longer necessary to put a primary or secondary site out there just to manage network traffic for content.
- You can install multiple providers in any site in the hierarchy. You can use these to help performance of administration at that site while enabling a specific provider for automated tasks.
- Administration is driven at the central administration site. This includes reporting as well as day-to-day operations. Since there are no clients reporting to the central administration site, it is the prime location for all administrative activities.
- There is more status reporting. Administrators have better control, with more information about the software and settings installed on their clients and improved ability to report on their service level agreements. This directly equates to site data reporting up the hierarchy – more detail about site data in my blog about data replication.
- Capabilities to support clients in untrusted forests have changed. You are no longer able to place site servers in untrusted forests, but you can install all the site roles except the out of band service point. Supporting Internet based clients is much easier than before – although it still requires PKI.
- Endpoint protection is now included as part of ConfigMgr. This asset alone provides the means to eliminate dedicated anti-malware infrastructure by combining this functionality with overall client management.
- Self-service portal that gives your end-users the ability to select software from an online catalog. You may be able to reduce custom-made solutions.
The standard systems architecture approach you previously used for determining management of clients in the enterprise is still valuable. You just need fewer pieces of infrastructure in ConfigMgr 2012 to support the same requirements. The primary resources you need for your system architecture can be found in:
- Fundamentals of Configuration Manager
- Supported Configurations for Configuration Manager
- Site Administration for System Center 2012 Configuration Manager
- Migrating from Configuration Manager 2007 to System Center 2012 Configuration Manager
With these resources and more found online in our blogs, documentation, and how-to videos, you will quickly be able to learn what assets you have to architect a robust Configuration Manager 2012 infrastructure.
Senior Program Manager
System Center 2012 Configuration Manager