ConfigMgr 101: Client Deployment

It has been a while since a post in my ConfigMgr 101 series. This latest installment looks at the many ways of deployment the ConfigMgr client to your systems.

Client Deployment

First we will look at client deployment and before we start looking at the deployment methods available let’s have a look at some best practice for client deployment.

  • Where possible, always extend the Active Directory schema so that you do not have to use command-line options
  • When deploying many clients, do this outside of business hours in a phased deployment
  • Before installing clients, make sure client settings and maintenance windows are configured
  • Use software update based deployment for Active Directory computers
  • If you are using any other language than English, make sure you deploy the language packs before installing the client

These are just a few things you should be doing to make your client deployment smoother and easier. Now let’s looks at the client deployment methods available to you.

  • Client Push
  • Software Update
  • Operating System Deployment
  • Group Policy
  • Manually
  • Logon Scripts

Now you may think of your own deployment methods but these are the main ones, let’s have a look at these in a little more detail.

Client Push

Client push is used to install the ConfigMgr client on computers which have been discovered. You configure client push for a site and the installation will automatically begin on computers that are discovered within the sites boundaries when configured as boundary groups. You can also manually initiate a client push from a specific resource or multiple resources from the Assets and Compliance workspace.

Client push is a great way of making sure anything that is discovered will have the client installed. For some organisations this is perfect because time has been spent looking at the discovery methods and configuring them properly to make sure only the required resources are picked up.

If the site is not configured for client push automatically then you can still use client push using the method described above. If the site server cannot contact the resource, the process will automatically retry every hour for 7 days.

To help track the client installation process, install a fallback status point site system before you install the clients. When a fallback status point is installed, it is automatically assigned to clients when they are installed by the client push installation method. View the client deployment and assignment reports to track client installation progress. Additionally, the client log files provide more detailed information for troubleshooting and do not require the installation of a fallback status point. For example, the CCM.log file on the site server records any problems that the site server has connecting to the computer, and the CCMSetup.log file on the client records the installation process.

Software Update

When using this method of client deployment the software update-based client publishes the ConfigMgr client to a software update point as a software update. This method can be used where clients do not have the ConfigMgr client installed or the client requires an upgrade.

If the computer has the ConfigMgr client installed then it is responsible for providing the server name and port of the software update point. If this is not the case then you must create and assign a group policy to point clients to the correct server and port number.

Using this method you cannot add command-line arguments to the installation but computers query Active Directory automatically for any properties.

Group Policy

You can also create a group policy which is responsible for deploying and installing the MSI of the client installation. This method is not preferred as you have no way of tracking the installation like you would through the console.

Operating System Deployment

When you run a task sequence which performs operating system deployment the client is installed as part of this process. As with other methods if the schema is extended and the site is correctly published in Active Directory, installation settings are automatically obtained from Active Directory.

This is a method of installation which you commonly see during a desktop refresh project. This works well when old equipment does not need migrating from a previous version of ConfigMgr and a ConfigMgr 2012 environment has been provisioned for the new environment.

Manually

You can also install the client manually by running CCMSetup.exe, note that you cannot directly run the MSI as this is launched via CCMSetup.exe which acts as a bootstrap. Always make sure that you specify properties for the executable (those with a forward slash) before specifying ones for the MSI. For example:

CCMSetup.exe /mp:MP01 /logon SMSSITECODE=AUTO FSP=FSP01

Logon Scripts

Logon script installation uses the same methods as manual client installation. You can specify the /logon installation property for CCMSsetup.exe, which prevents the client from installing if any version of the client already exists on the computer. This prevents reinstallation of the client from taking place each time the logon script runs.

If no installation source is specified that is using the /Source property and no management point from which to obtain installation is specified by using the /MP property, CCMSetup.exe can locate the management point by searching Active Directory Domain Services if the schema has been extended for System Center 2012 Configuration Manager and the site is published to Active Directory Domain Services. Alternatively, the client can use DNS or WINS to locate a management point.

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About Martyn

Martyn is one of the Senior Cloud Architects and DevOps Team Leader at one of the worlds leading Cloud Transformation Specialists Inframon. Martyn is responsible for the architecture of some of the largest Azure deployments in EMEA and is a advisor to a many businesses on their strategies. Martyn is a regular speaker at Microsoft events and community events on Azure and DevOps, giving his insight to a growing number of audiences.

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