There are all kinds of new features in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager (SCCM 2012) and you have probably read about, watched video, or made use of many of them.  As I visit customers I find there is one very cool feature that most folks don’t realize is actually there:  Distribution Point groups

Distribution groups aren’t really a new feature per se. They existed in SCCM 2007.  However, their usefulness in 2007 was limited.  They were only useful as a UI convenience during package distribution UI.  In SCCM 2012 they are much more than that.  They are a very useful tool.

The great thing about DP groups is that you can target software deployments at the DP group and then content will be added dynamically to any DP which is added to that group.  Because of this I recommend to all my customers that even if they only have 1 DP they should make a DP group, put the 1 DP in it, then target all software distributions to the group, not the named DP.  I tell them this to make the future better and easier.  Compare this future scenario with and with out a DP group:

 

 

Your SCCM 2012 site has been up and running for a year.  You have 100 packages already deployed to your single remote DP but the hardware is old and failing so you want to rebuild it into a play toy for your new hire to train on.  You finally got the funds for new hardware and built it out to be your new remote DP.  Now you have to get your packages deployed to it.

 

Non-group option:

  1. Go to a package and distribute the content to the new DP
  2. Wait 5+ minutes and confirm the DP has received all the content
  3. Go back to the package and delete the old DP so the package files will be removed from it
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 99 more times for the entire day, maybe into tomorrow
  5. Claim overtime if you are allowed to

 

DP group option:

  1. Since you deployed all the content to the DP group you just add the new DP to the existing DP group as you head home for the day
  2. Let all 100 packages replicate to the new DP over night, minimizing impact to your network when users need it
  3. Come in the next morning navigate to Administration\Distribution Points, select your old DP and from the properties/content tab do a multi-select and delete all the packages from it.
  4. Do the other work your boss expects from you..., SCCM is good to go.

How is that not cool?!?!?

To be fair, I kept my scenarios to “in-product functionality” and there are some scripts to help handle this kind of thing in SCCM 2007…, but why mess with scripts when the product has such a nice feature built right in and fully supported?

I should also note that content is not removed from the DP just by removing it from the DP group.  You either have to delete it from the DP via the SCCM UI before removal, or format the ex-DP if you don't care.  I did a modification of this post to make that more clear.