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Deploying Applications Using Group Policy and SCCM 2007 : Deploying Applications Using SCCM 2007 (part 1)

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The basic process of deploying applications—or any software—using SCCM 2007 is the same as that for an operating system: you create a package containing the software and advertise it to a collection of computers. The computers receive the advertisement, through the SCCM client, and execute the instructions in the package.

“Program” (in SCCM) is a technical term that refers to a command that executes on the client computer. For example, if you have a standard application with source files and a Setup.exe file that you want to deploy using SCCM, you create a package that contains the source files and a program that contains a command line executing Setup.exe with appropriate parameters. When the designated clients receive the advertisement indicating that the package is available, they download the program and execute it, causing the installation to commence.

SCCM is essentially a delivery service that provides software to clients in a predetermined manner. It is up to the SCCM administrator to create programs that can execute properly on the client computers. If, for example, you create a program that contains an improperly formatted Setup.exe command line, the client computers generate an error, just as if you typed the command incorrectly in person.

Understanding the SCCM Software Deployment Process

The process of deploying an application using SCCM 2007 consists of the following basic steps:

  1. Create distribution points

  2. Create a collection

  3. Create a package

  4. Select distribution points

  5. Create a program

  6. Advertise the program to the collection

These steps are discussed in the following sections.

Creating Distribution Points

SCCM is a highly scalable product, designed to support the largest enterprises. When deploying an application to clients at multiple physical sites, you can create multiple distribution points to prevent each client from having to access the source files over a slow wide area network (WAN) connection. After creating a package, you copy it to the distribution points so that each client can then access it from a local server.

Creating distribution points is typically a part of the SCCM 2007 infrastructure design, so they should already be in place by the time you are ready to create packages. To add a distribution point in Configuration Manager, you browse to the Site Management\<site>\Site Settings\Site Systems folder and launch the New Site System Server Wizard, as shown in Figure 1.

The New Site System Server Wizard

Figure 1. The New Site System Server Wizard

After specifying the name of the server on your network you want to add, the wizard displays the System Role Selection page, as shown in Figure 2, which enables you to choose Distribution Point as the SCCM role you want that server to perform.

The System Role Selection page in the New Site System Server Wizard

Figure 2. The System Role Selection page in the New Site System Server Wizard

Creating a Collection

In SCCM, you use collections to specify which computers or users are to receive deliveries from the SCCM servers. This makes it easy to deploy applications to selected computers with great precision. When you are deploying applications to computers that already have the SCCM client installed, you can use the Configuration Manager console to discover clients and add them to collections as needed. 

Creating a Package

Creating a package in Configuration Manager is essentially a matter of assembling the materials you need SCCM to deliver to the target computers so that the computers can install your application. To create a package using SCCM 2007, use the following procedure:

  1. On your SCCM site server, launch the Configuration Manager console.

  2. Browse to the Computer Management\Software Distribution\Packages folder.

  3. Right-click the Packages folder and select New | Package from the context menu. The New Package Wizard appears, displaying the General page, as shown in Figure 3.

    The General page of the New Package Wizard

    Figure 3. The General page of the New Package Wizard

  4. Type a name for the package in the Name text box, as well as other identifying information, if you want. Then click Next. The Data Source page appears, as shown in Figure 4.

    The Data Source page of the New Package Wizard

    Figure 4. The Data Source page of the New Package Wizard

  5. Select the check box for The Package Contains Source Files and then the Use A Compressed Copy Of The Source Directory option.

  6. Click Set. The Set Source Directory dialog box appears, as shown in Figure 5.

    The Set Source Directory dialog box

    Figure 5. The Set Source Directory dialog box

  7. In the Source Directory text box, type or browse to the location of the application source files. Then select the appropriate Source Directory Location option, and click OK.

  8. Click Next. The Data Access page appears, as shown in Figure 6.

    The Data Access page of the New Package Wizard

    Figure 6. The Data Access page of the New Package Wizard

  9. Click Next to accept the default settings. The Distribution Settings page appears, as shown in Figure 7.

    The Distribution Settings page of the New Package Wizard

    Figure 7. The Distribution Settings page of the New Package Wizard

  10. Click Next to accept the default settings. The Reporting page appears, as shown in Figure 8.

    The Reporting page of the New Package Wizard

    Figure 8. The Reporting page of the New Package Wizard

  11. Click Next to accept the default settings. The Security page appears, as shown in Figure 9.

    The Security page of the New Package Wizard

    Figure 9. The Security page of the New Package Wizard

  12. Click Next to accept the default settings. The Summary page appears, as shown in Figure 10.

    The Summary page of the New Package Wizard

    Figure 10. The Summary page of the New Package Wizard

  13. Click Next. The wizard creates the package.

  14. Click Close.

    When you expand the package you have just created, you see the following four subheadings:

    • Access Accounts. Specifies who can access the source files in the package

    • Distribution Points. Specifies which distribution points SCCM uses to deploy the package

    • Programs. Enables you to create the programs that execute on the target computers

    • Package Status. Displays information about the package’s activities

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