Topic last updated—November 2007

Primary sites are used in Configuration Manager 2007 site hierarchies to manage clients located within the boundaries of the primary site and any of its child secondary sites.

Secondary sites are used in Configuration Manager 2007 site hierarchies to lessen the processing load on primary site systems and to ease client administration and network bandwidth usage to more efficiently manage Configuration Manager clients at remote locations. In general, secondary sites are used to control network bandwidth utilization across slow links for client information generated by clients and to support software distribution operations across slow network links.

In some cases, branch distribution points can be used instead of creating additional sites. Branch distribution points can help reduce network utilization for package downloads; however, they do not manage other types of client traffic, such as inventory, policy downloads, and status messages.

When choosing between primary sites, secondary sites, and branch distribution points, you should consider the amount of network traffic that the planned and future site clients will generate. It might be beneficial to install a secondary site if the amount of network traffic generated by clients across a slow link would be greater than the site-to-site communication traffic generated by a secondary site. Clients generate uncompressed network traffic when they request policies and send information—such as inventory, discovery, and status message information—to their management point based on the policy polling interval and client agents settings you define in the primary site's Configuration Manager console. Site-to-site communication between primary and secondary sites is compressed and can be scheduled and throttled by configuring site address settings.

If a proxy management point is installed at a secondary site, the clients located within the boundaries assigned to the secondary site will request policies from the proxy management point. When the proxy management point receives a client request for a policy, it requests any new policies from the default management point for the primary site that the client is assigned to and returns the policy body to the requesting client. To conserve network bandwidth, the policy body returned by the default management point is cached on the proxy management point and returned to other clients at the secondary site when the same policy version is requested. For more information, see About Client Policy in Configuration Manager.

When supporting many clients at remote locations across slow network links, it might be beneficial to install a secondary site and configure distribution site systems that are local to clients within the secondary site's boundaries. When distribution points are installed within secondary sites, package source files are sent only once across the slow link from the primary site to secondary site distribution points instead of each time a client within the secondary site's boundaries requests software distribution package content. However, branch distribution points might also be beneficial in this scenario.

Other Secondary Site Deployment Planning Considerations

The following table lists additional pros and cons to consider when determining whether to install a primary or secondary site.

Pro Con
  • Secondary sites do not require additional Configuration Manager 2007 server licenses.

  • Secondary sites do not require an additional SQL Server database at the secondary site.

  • Clients can be managed across a slow network connection link, such as a wide area network (WAN) connection between sites, without the need to configure client agent settings.

  • Secondary sites can have management points (called proxy management points) to help prevent client reporting information, such as inventory reports and status messages, from traversing slow network connections to the primary site.

  • Remote sites can be managed centrally from a parent primary site without the need for an on-site administrator at the secondary site.

  • Parent sites for secondary sites cannot be changed without uninstalling them and installing a new secondary site.

  • Secondary sites cannot be upgraded to primary sites. To replace a secondary site with a primary site, you must uninstall the secondary site and install a primary site.

  • Because Configuration Manager clients are always assigned to primary sites, client agent settings cannot be configured differently from the secondary site's parent site for clients located within the boundaries of secondary sites.

Considerations for Using a Branch Distribution Point Instead of a Site

If you have a location that is so small that it does not have a server, you should at least install a branch distribution point to provide a local package source.

If the location is large enough to have a server or if there are several users, consider the pros and cons listed in the following table when deciding whether to use a branch distribution point instead of creating a new site.

Pro Con
  • Reduces site hierarchy complexity.

  • Allows package to be copied out of band to a distribution point within the site.

  • Does not require a server operating system.

  • Provides on-demand package distribution, in which packages are downloaded to the branch distribution point only when specifically requested by a client computer.

  • Branch distribution points download content from standard distribution points using BITS (Background Intelligent Transfer Service).

  • Supports all packages, including software update packages and operating system deployment packages.

  • Does not manage traffic uploaded from clients to management points.

  • Does not manage traffic when downloading policies from management points to clients.

  • Does not provide a local software update point to scan for software updates.

  • Does not provide precise time and bandwidth controls between sites, as a Sender does.

  • Restricts available connections to 10 or fewer if using a client operating system.

See Also