Topic last updated -- November 2007

With this release, Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 expands the abilities of system administrators to centrally manage computers effectively. Building on the capabilities provided by System Management Server (SMS) 2003, Configuration Manager provides a refined tool set for software distribution that includes the following new characteristics:

Branch Distribution Points

A new Configuration Manager server role, the branch distribution point allows small office locations to host packages on workstation computers without requiring a secondary site to be hosted. This is particularly useful for offices with fewer than ten workstations, where maintaining a separate server for a secondary site might not be practical.

Branch distribution points function in much the same fashion as standard distribution points, but have the advantage of providing greater control over network traffic, necessary for branch offices that may have limited network bandwidth availability. Branch distribution points allow not only allow for manual content provisioning, but also provide configurable settings for scheduling and throttling network traffic, BITS (Background Intelligent Transfer Service) enabling, to help minimize network impact. Additionally, on-demand package distribution are allowed, in which packages are only downloaded to the branch distribution point when specifically requested by a client computer.

Branch distribution points cannot be installed on client computers running the Windows°2000 Professional operating system or the Windows°2000 Server operating system.

For more information, see About Standard and Branch Distribution Points.

Maximum Allowed Run Time Program Attribute

A program attribute that existed in previous versions of Configuration Manager, Maximum Allowed Run Time has taken on greater significance in Configuration Manager 2007. If a program is advertised to a collection that is utilizing maintenance windows, the value of the Maximum Allowed Run Time attribute is used to determine when and if the program can be run within the allotted window. For instance, if the run time is set to 90 minutes, but the collection it is advertised to only has a maintenance window of 60 minutes, that program will not run. Exceptions to this can be set, in the form of options to disregard existing maintenance windows, but care should be taken to ensure that this attribute is accurate.

This value can be set when creating a program in the New Program Wizard, or on the Requirements tab of the Program Property page for existing programs. By default, this value is automatically set to 120 minutes.

For more information on maintenance windows and their interaction with the maximum allowed run time attribute, see About Maintenance Windows and Program Run Scenario using Maintenance Windows.

Improved Program re-run behavior

Software distribution now exposes program re-run behavior options to administrators to a greater degree than previously. The number of available behavior options has also increased. These can be seen when configuring a new or existing advertisement and allow administrators greater flexibility in determining what rerun behavior is most appropriate for each specific advertisement. Additionally, Configuration Manager prevents administrators from selecting an incompatible program re-run option.

For more information on program re-run behavior, see Advertisement Name Properties: Schedule Tab.

Greater control over program run and restart notifications

With Configuration Manager 2007, users now have greater control over many program run and notification settings. Administrators can now set bandwidth throttling, system restart countdown and restart notifications on the Computer Client Agent, advertised program notification and program run countdown settings on the Advertised Programs Client Agent, and collection-specific restart and policy polling settings on the collections themselves.

Branding support for client agent

Software distribution provides now support for customized branding through the Computer Client Agent. This allows administrators to use customized organization-specific text to be displayed on the client computer, such as with the Run Advertised Programs dialog box. Additional custom branding can be used for the software distribution, software updates, and operating system deployment features.

For more information, see Computer Client Agent Properties: Customization Tab.

Binary Delta replication

Although delta replication has existed in previous versions of System Management Server, this has previously been available only on the file level. For instance, if a file within a package or program changed, filed-based delta replication would copy the changed file to distribution points (and other destinations) instead of copying the entire package. With binary delta replication, only those specific changes within a file are copied to the destination, thereby greatly reducing the network traffic involved. This can be used on a site-to-site, site-to-distribution point, or standard distribution point-to-branch distribution point basis.

For more information about binary delta replication, see About Binary Differential Replication.

Increased Default Cache Size

With the release of Configuration Manager 2007, the size of the cache for storing packages when they're downloaded has increased dramatically, from 250 Mb in size to 5120 Mb. Because when a package must be downloaded, it competes with other, often older packages for the available space in the cache, in the past these older packages might be deleted to free enough space to place the new package in the cache. For very large packages, downloading might not have been possible at all if the size of the package (or image) exceeded the size of the cache. With the increased default cache size, however, this is far less likely to happen, and older packages will remain in the cache and available longer.

BITS-level Resume Now Available Between Distribution Points

With the release of a new version of the BITS service (Background Intelligent Transfer Service), interrupted client downloads from BITS-enabled distribution points can now resume at the point at which they stopped transferring, even if the client connects to a different distribution point. Previously, if a client download from a BITS-enabled distribution point interrupted, a download could only be resumed if the client used the same distribution point. This new functionality is particularly advantageous for computers that roam between sites, or if using Internet-based client management and clients move between the intranet and the Internet.

Advertisements Not Replicated to Secondary Sites

In SMS 2003, all advertisement information was sent to both secondary and primary sites because Legacy Clients could be assigned directly to secondary sites. However, Configuration Manager 2007 does not use Legacy Clients, and all clients can only be assigned to a primary site.

Because of this, Configuration Manager no longer replicates advertisement information to secondary sites, resulting in significant performance improvements and savings in network bandwidth.

Copying Multiple Packages to a Distribution Point

If you bring a new distribution point online, you might want to provision that distribution point with several packages. In SMS 2003, you had to either go to each package individually and copy one package at a time to the distribution point or create a script. In Configuration Manager 2007 you can use the Copy Packages Wizard to pick a distribution point and then select each package you want to copy to the distribution point. For more information, see How to Copy Multiple Packages to One Distribution Point.

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