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System Center Configuration Manager 2007 : Network Design - Fast Networks and Slow Networks

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12/17/2012 4:30:35 PM
Some Configuration Manager services such as software distribution can consume substantial network bandwidth.

Effectively delivering these services across slow, congested, or unreliable network segments requires careful planning. ConfigMgr provides a mechanism to help with this by defining each site boundary as Fast (LAN) or Slow or unreliable, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Site boundaries can be defined as slow or fast


If you are familiar with SMS 2003, you can think of fast site boundaries as SMS 2003 local roaming boundaries, and you can think of slow or unreliable site boundaries as remote roaming boundaries. Options are available to control the way in which software distribution and software updates take place, based on whether you have designated the client’s network location as fast or slow in the site boundary properties.

As an example, an advertisement or software updates deployment might specify that clients on a fast network will run the program directly from the distribution point, whereas clients on slow networks will download the files from the distribution point and run them locally. The “download and run” option allows the client to take advantage of the BITS protocol . You can also configure advertisements and deployments not to run at all on slow or unreliable networks. 

Fast, slow, reliable, and unreliable are all relative terms. Although the UI (user interface) suggests that a fast network shares a local area network segment with the ConfigMgr site systems, you should take this suggestion as a general guideline and not necessarily a definitive criterion. You should base your decision of whether to define a particular boundary as fast or slow on your software distribution model and how you want clients within that boundary to behave within that model. In addition to overall speed and reliability, factors you might consider include the following:

  • Available bandwidth, including peak usage times

  • Potential impact of software distribution on other business processes sharing the link

  • The business value of delivering the higher level of service you intend to provide to fast network clients

For example, the SCCMUnleashed organization supports small office and home office (SOHO) users, some of whom have very slow and unreliable connections to the corporate network. It is essential that these users receive critical security updates and other ConfigMgr services. However, it is not feasible to distribute large software packages to them across these network connections. For this reason, many advertisements will be configured not to run on slow networks.

SCCMUnleashed has a major office and data center in Houston, and a smaller office in nearby Conroe. Conroe does not have a datacenter with server class hardware, physical security, or other services. The company decides not to deploy site systems in Conroe and to make this office part of the Houston site. The Conroe office has a 4Mbps dedicated link to Houston, which is lightly utilized. The network team uses Resource Reservation Protocol (RSVP) to guarantee an acceptable quality of service across this link for critical business processes, so the company is not concerned about the impact of software distribution on these processes. The company therefore decides to designate the Conroe subnet as a fast boundary to allow users at that site to access all advertised packages from the distribution point in Houston, even though the connection is substantially below local area network (LAN) speed. Figure 2 shows the Houston site.

Figure 2. The Houston site includes the Houston data center and Conroe office.

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