Software updates in Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 are composed of two main parts. The metadata is the information about each software update, and it is stored in the site server database. The second part is the software update file, which is what client computers download and run to install the software update. There are three main operational phases. The synchronization phase is when the software update metadata is synchronized from the upstream Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) server, or from Microsoft Update, and inserted into the site server database. The compliance assessment phase is when client computers scan for software update compliance and report their compliance state for synchronized software updates. The deployment phase is when software updates selected for deployment by the administrator, the software updates policy sent to client computers, and then the software update files are downloaded to and installed on client computers. Each phase is described in detail later in this section.

Before software update compliance assessment data can be displayed in the Configuration Manager 2007 console and software updates can be deployed to client computers, considerable planning should take place for software updates in the hierarchy. Then the software updates components must be configured to meet the needs of the environment.

Planning Phase

The planning phase for software updates involves learning the Configuration Manager 2007 concepts, becoming familiar with the software updates in a test environment, collecting information about your production environment, planning for software updates when there are Systems Management Server (SMS) 2003 child sites, planning software updates when there are Internet-based client computers, determining whether Network Load Balancing (NLB) should be used on the software update point, and so on. For more information about planning for software updates in your environment, see Planning for Software Updates. For a list of planning and preparation steps, see Administrator Checklist: Planning and Preparing Software Updates.

Configuration Phase

After Configuration Manager 2007 is installed, the software updates feature must be configured. The configuration phase for software updates involves installing and configuring the software update point, as well as reviewing the configuration settings for other software updates components and modifying the settings to suit your needs. For more information about configuring software updates, see Administrator Checklist: Configuring Software Updates.

Synchronization Phase

Software updates synchronization in Configuration Manager 2007 is the process of retrieving the software updates metadata that meets the configured criteria from the upstream Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) server or Microsoft Update. Synchronization can be scheduled on the central site as part of the software update point properties or manually initiated by using the Run Synchronization action on the Update Repository console tree node. Child sites initiate synchronization only after receiving a request from their parent site. For more information about the synchronization process, see About Software Updates Synchronization.

Compliance Assessment Phase

The Software Updates Client Agent is enabled in Configuration Manager 2007 by default, which installs components used on client computers to manage the compliance assessment and evaluation scanning for software updates, and the installation of software updates that are deployed to them. When the software update point is installed and synchronized, a site-wide machine policy is created that informs client computers that software updates has been enabled for the site and the client computer initiates a scan for software updates compliance. The compliance results are sent to the management point using state messages, forwarded to the site server, and then inserted into the site database. For more information, see About Software Updates Compliance.

Deployment Phase

The Configuration Manager 2007 console displays the software updates compliance assessment data for client computers in the hierarchy. Software update deployments are created for required software updates using the Deploy Software Updates Wizard. Deployments can be created so that client computers have the option to install the updates (optional deployment) or automatically initiate software update installation on client computers at the configured deadline (mandatory deployment). For more information, see About Software Update Deployments. For the steps to assess and deploy software updates, see Administrator Checklist: Assessing and Deploying Software Updates.

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