Hierarchy Design in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager

Primary Sites

“What has changed in Configuration Manager?” This is one of the first questions people ask me when talking about the next release. That is a VERY big question to answer and I don’t intend to answer it all right here. After all, there is product documentation. And I know that everyone reads the documentation, right?

Even if you have read the documentation, I wanted to give you the “skinny” on what to expect with changes regarding primary site servers – which is a rather drastic difference from what you had in Configuration Manager 2007. Biggest changes:

  • No ability to tier primary site servers – they are only peers in a hierarchy
  • No need deploy a primary site server to support different settings, policy, and administrative control
  • No need to tier for content routing

Ok, now that I have piqued your interest (or raised your blood pressure), understand that this is all part of reducing infrastructure management requirements. In other words, making your life much easier. So what can the primary site server do now?

You obviously need at least one primary site server if you are going to manage any clients with Configuration Manager 2012. But in what circumstances might you install more than one primary site server?

  • If you want to support more than 100k clients – a single primary supports up to 100k clients
  • Simply to spread the load of supporting clients – thus reducing the impact of a primary site server failure
  • To create another site for admin console administration – although we always recommend managing the hierarchy from the central administration site
  • For political reasons – these are really internal politics as some divisions / groups believe they have better control if they have their own primary site server
  • For content regulation – for those countries where content such as line of business application binaries can’t physically leave a geographic location

It is important to understand that ConfigMgr 2012 now only supports up to a maximum of 25 primary site servers in a single hierarchy. This low number actually will make more sense when you understand that ConfigMgr 2012 eliminates scenarios to deploy primary sites that you might have used in previous versions.

These are the reasons you are no longer required to deploy a primary site server in ConfigMgr 2012, as you did in previous versions. All of these scenarios are now handled logically, instead of physically, at a primary site.

  • Since we have language neutral support you may install multiple languages per primary site
  • Client settings are now applied at the collection level and not at the primary site
  • Administration is logically segmented through role-based settings and scopes and not by using a separate primary site
  • Content routing is performed through defining routes between secondary sites to provide deep content routing also not requiring a primary site for this function

There are certainly more details available in our documentation, but at a high level, this gives you a quick overview of the BIG changes we have made with primary site servers. You can use this information to jumpstart system architecture discussions and presentations to your leadership team about how reducing server infrastructure requirements can help save money with ConfigMgr 2012.

That makes it a win for everyone! Welcome to System Center 2012 Configuration Manager primary site server improvements.

D.C. Tardy
Senior Program Manager
System Center 2012 Configuration Manager

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