Gone are the days of file replication for the majority of data in Configuration Manager. While content for applications, packages and a small subset of discovery still use file replication, all the other information in Configuration Manager now uses SQL Server Service Broker to replicate data around the Configuration Manager hierarchy.

“Boy, this is an exciting topic!” Well, if that is what you are thinking, then hang with me – it only gets better. SQL Server Service Broker is now the bedrock we use to make sure users get the apps and settings the admin wants them to have – which only makes your job easier. You are no longer required to manage file replication throughout your ConfigMgr hierarchy and network – it simply “just happens.” How excited are customers about this? Here are just a couple of the comments we received:

  • “Replication just works.”
  • “Object locking so only one user in the hierarchy can edit data at a time – that’s just awesome.”

I bring this up because it really simplifies your job. No more babysitting inbox replication throughout the hierarchy. Database replication technology just takes care of it for you. So, what type of data is replicated where? Here’s how it breaks down:

Data type

Examples

Replication type

Where is data found?

Global data

Collection rules, package metadata, software update metadata, Deployments

SQL

Central administration site, all primary sites, secondary sites (a subset of global data is replicated here)

Site data

Collection members, HINV, alert messages

SQL

Central administration site, originating primary site

Content

Software package installation bits, software updates, boot images

File-based

Primary sites, secondary sites, distribution points

The two types of data that take advantage of the SQL Server Service Broker are:

  1. Global data – any data generated by the administrator (e.g. data entered manually from the administration console)
  2. Site data – any data that is generated by the system

(Content data continues to flow through the hierarchy to the appropriate distribution points via file replication.)

The most important things to know about global data and site data are:

  • Global data is present at the central administration site, all primary sites, and a subset of it at the secondary sites. The secondary site global data, for example, provides links to full policy at the primary site, so clients can quickly determine if there is new applicable policy. Also, this secondary site data provides management and distribution point lookup information.
  • Global data includes the site control file (now in the database and not as a separate modifiable file on the file system) and ensures all primary site servers and the central administration site know how the entire hierarchy is configured. This helps with recovery scenarios, as any primary site or the central administration site can be used as a reference point to recover a failed site without a good backup.
  • Data is replicated through the hierarchy or, in the case of site data, up the hierarchy every 1 to 7 minutes, so the administrator has a very accurate view of the Configuration Manager hierarchy
  • Site data is only replicated up the hierarchy and not across the hierarchy. Since hierarchy data can be very large, we are reducing the size of storage needed across the hierarchy because site data is not needed at every site. This fosters centralized management and reporting at the central administration site.
  • Site data replication pattern (up to the central administration site) further supports the goal of driving central administration from the central administration site

One thing to note is that if an administrator is logged onto a single primary site and creates a deployment to a collection, that administrator will only see the collection members listed as a member of the site they are administering from, but their deployment will be hierarchy wide. That is why the collection member count is a part of global data. That same administrator may view the scope of their deployment; say to 200 clients, while they can only see the 100 clients as members of the collection, since those clients are assigned to the primary site the administrator is connected to through the administration console.

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Available Global Data and Site Data

The only place for a Configuration Manager administrator to have a complete picture of the entire hierarchy is at the central administration site. It is recommended that all administration for a Configuration Manager hierarchy be accomplished from the central administration site. In this way, all data to which an administrator is granted access is visible.

The days of file based replication are gone for the most part, providing additional flexibility and quick gratification of data managed at the top level of the hierarchy, the central administration site. Yet another way that Configuration Manager is improving the speed and simplicity with which administrators can manage their hierarchy.

D.C. Tardy

Senior Program Manager

System Center 2012 Configuration Manager