[This is prerelease documentation and is subject to change in future releases. Blank topics are included as placeholders.]

To use any System Center Essentials 2007 feature, such as software deployment on a managed computer, a computer must be have been discovered and have a management agent installed on it. In Essentials 2007, a computer group is a logical collection of managed computers that you want to manage as a unit. Typically, the computers in a computer group share some common characteristic. Essentials 2007 contains several predefined computer groups, but you can also create your own.

Before a computer can be added to a computer group, the Essentials management agent must be deployed on that computer.

Discovering and Preparing Computers for Management

Computers that you want to manage using Essentials 2007 must first be discovered and then prepared for management by installing an agent on the discovered computers.

Discovery is the process Essentials 2007 uses to search for objects to be managed (computers and network devices) in your environment. You can then browse the list of objects that were discovered and select the objects that you want Essentials to manage. Essentials 2007 installs a management agent on discovered computers, but will not install an agent on a network device. Network devices will instead be managed remotely by the Essentials 2007 Management Server.

An agent is the Essentials 2007 component that you install on a computer to allow the Essentials 2007 Management Server to manage the computer. The agent communicates with the Management Server, sending data from the managed computers to the Management Server and downloading data from the management server to the managed computers. The agent also runs tasks on the managed computers.

Discovering computers and installing an agent on them are integral processes and run centrally from the Management Server when you run the Computer and Device Management Wizard. The wizard discovers computers in your environment and then installs an agent on each of the computers that you chose to manage.

Initial Discovery

This should be performed immediately after installing Essentials 2007. Before discovering computers, be sure to complete the Feature Configuration Wizard, in which you can configure the firewall exceptions that will make computer discovery and agent installation successful.

Subsequent Discoveries

After the initial discovery is complete, new computers can be discovered by either of the following methods:

  • When enabled using the Feature Configuration Wizard, the Scheduled Discovery process runs once a day. An option is provided in the Settings view of the Administration pane to change this interval.

  • Manually run the Discovery Wizard. For more information, see How to Discover and Prepare Computers and Devices for Management.

Default Computer Groups

Essentials 2007 provides several predefined computer groups, as follows:

  • All Clients (n)—Includes all managed computers that are running a non-server-based operating system.

  • All Computers (n)—Includes all computers.

  • All Servers (n)—Includes all managed computers that are running a server-based operating system.

These default computer groups are dynamic. When you discover and deploy the agent to computers in your organization, the new computers automatically join the appropriate computer groups.

Using Computer Groups

All Essentials 2007 features require using computer groups. However, there is a slight difference in how you interact with computer groups depending on the purpose of the computer group. To interact with computer groups that are used for monitoring, click the Authoring navigation button in the Essentials 2007 console and then expand Groups. To interact with computer groups that are used for all other purposes, click the Computers navigation button.

Computer Groups That Are Used for Monitoring

A monitoring computer group is associated with a Management Pack that contains the definition of the computer group. Several Management Packs are installed by default during Essentials 2007 setup. Those Management Packs typically contain computer groups that are relevant to the Management Pack, and which allow you to monitor the computers that are members of that group.

The members list of a monitoring computer group can be static or dynamic. You can define a list of specific computers, or you can define a formula that reevaluates on a regular interval and updates the member list as necessary.

If you want to use a monitoring computer group for other purposes, you must manually extend the functionality of that group. Click the Computers navigation button, and create a new computer group based on the monitoring group that you need.

Computer Groups That Are Used for Features Other Than Monitoring

The computer groups that are used for software deployment, update management, and inventory are automatically made available for monitoring purposes. This includes the default computer groups and any new computer groups that you create by using the New Computer Group – Properties dialog box. For example, after you create a new computer group for software deployment, if you select Authoring and expand Groups, the newly created computer group is listed.

The members list of those computer groups can be either a list of specific computers or a list based on an existing monitoring computer group. When specifying a monitoring computer group, the name of the new group is identical to the name of the monitoring group and the members of the specified monitoring computer group become members of the new computer group. This is a dynamic computer group; when a new computer joins the monitoring computer group, it automatically joins this new computer group.

If you delete a computer group that is based on a monitoring computer group, the original monitoring computer group is not deleted; however, it is no longer available for use with any feature other than monitoring. For example, you can no longer deploy software to the deleted computer group.

See Also

How to Enable, Disable, and Schedule Computer Discovery with System Center EssentialsHow to View Computer Groups and Managed Objects in SCE


How to Create a Computer Group

Other Resources

Computer Management in Essentials