ConfigMgr 101: Pull Distribution Points

With all the excitement of the SP1 release this is something many people will have overlooked or not even seen, especially if you already have all your distribution points setup. Pull Distribution Points allow us to specify a distribution point to act as an upstream server for a specific distribution point.

Imagine the following scenario, we have a primary site and two distribution points which are connected via 100 Mbit network links, meaning we have no issue sending content down that link to serve out to clients. We do however need to introduce a third distribution point for a new office serving 20 users, this site has a 2 Mbit link back to the head office where our primary site is located.

If we picture this scenario drawn out in ConfigMgr 2012, we could have something like the following diagram shown below.

Distribution Point Design

Now that is good because we can obviously set scheduling and rate limits on that distribution point. However if we have other services running on this link then we may still have some problems sending content down to the distribution point. This is where pull distribution points comes in useful. As we have already established, site three does not have a good link back to the primary site but we do have a 10 Mbit link to site two where we have a distribution point already, taking pull distribution points into account this is how this design would look in SP1.

Distribution Point Design for Pull

Now what will happen is content from the distribution point at site two will be used as a source location for our distribution point at site three. This is a great way to utilise bandwidth and inter-site links to better effect. This is not the only situation where pull distribution points could be useful though.

Cloud Distribution Points

Starting with SP1, we introduced the functionality for cloud based distribution points which are storage containers in Windows Azure. Cloud DPs can be spun up easily and destroyed when they are finished with, this can help with mass application upgrades or projects which require additional distribution capabilities.

Currently in preview in Windows Azure is the ability to host virtual machines and create site to site VPN connections to your internal network to extend your own corporate network out into the Windows Azure cloud.

Using the pull distribution point method, you could create a virtual machine in Windows Azure as a distribution point, however to save coming back over the VPN link, if you have a cloud DP already setup you can use the cloud DP as a pull source location, we would express this setup as shown in the following diagram.

Azure Pull Distribution Points

How this could also help is how much you are charged. Transfers of data within Windows Azure are free of change and uploads of data are free of charge, only data leaving the Azure network are charged.

Pull Distribution Point Setup

The setup could not be simpler. When you create a new distribution point you will be prompted for any pull settings on the wizard. You can see how this is setup below.

Pull Distribution Point Setup

As you can see, simply check the box at the top, click the Add button at the bottom and a list of distribution points will be available for you. Once the distribution point is setup you can change these settings like others just by looking at the properties of the distribution point.

Pull Distribution Point Settings

You cannot specify pull distribution point settings on a distribution point that is on a primary site, this is only applicable to remote distribution points.


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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.

5 responses to “ConfigMgr 101: Pull Distribution Points”

  1. Mikey says :

    Hi Martyn,

    SCCM 2012 client does not retreive his DP list.

    I have a single SCCM 2012 client that never retreived his Distribution Point.

    From LocationServices.log, I can see the following…

    Current AD site of machine is XXX <– OK

    Begin checking Alternate Network Configuration

    Finished checking Alternate Network Configuration

    Calling back with empty distribution points list

    On the other side:

    This client properly gets his MP, WSUS server assigned
    AD site / AD subnet / Boundarie group configuration looks good
    I have other clients in the same subnet getting their DP without any problem

    I have this issue with 15 out of 45 client. How do I fix this.

    Sorry, this might not be the right place to post my issue…. Any suggestions would be of great help.


  2. FoxDeploy says :

    I thought this was a great example of when to use the new Pull DP feature, good write-up.

    Do you have a similar one on when to use a Secondary site over a Distribution Point?

    • Martyn says :

      Not on the blog but I can write one up

      • FoxDeploy says :

        Thanks for the lightning quick reply! I for one would be very interested. Currently in Search Rankings, your blog article is one of the top results on Google for ‘when to use a pull DP’, and thats what brought me here, FWIW.

        I’m currently planning out the move for one of my clients, global company, one central primary, four child primaries and 176 distribution points, with 18,000 clients in four geographic regions. I’d like to move away from having more than one primary and just use DPs for everything, but am not certain if I will need Secondaries or not (which to my knowledge are a good choice when the clients have poor bandwidth/unreliable connection back to the Primary).

        We’ll use Nomad so we’ll have very, very few DPs, maybe one for each of the geo. regions. Anywho, ignoring my Nomad spiel, I’d be very interested in a similar write-up on Secondaries vs DPs.

        Thank you again,

Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Pull and Cloud Distribution Points | Jason W. Rutherford - April 22, 2013

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