Replicating Data and Managing Content in SCCM 2012 R2 by David Papkin

In a Microsoft® System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager multiple-site hierarchy, data is transferred between sites to allow for centralized administration and reporting. Understanding how data transfer works helps you monitor the data flow in your Configuration Manager hierarchy and troubleshoot replication issues.
Configuration Manager 2012 uses database replication and file-based transfer to transfer data between sites. The data transfer method that Configuration Manager 2012 uses depends on the type of data it is transferring. Configuration Manager 2012 relies on the distribution point infrastructure to provide content management functionality.

Configuration Manager 2012 data that is transferred between sites is categorized in three data types:  global data, site data, and content. Depending on its type, some data is copied to all sites; other data is copied to only some sites in the hierarchy. By understanding each data type—where it is created, how it is transferred, and where it is used—you can monitor and troubleshoot Configuration Manager inter-site communication efficiently.

 

Data Types in Configuration Manager 2012
System Center 2012 Configuration Manager uses site-to-site communications to transfer
the following types of data between sites:
• Global data, which consists of objects that an administrator creates at the central
administration site or at primary sites.
• Site data, which is operational information that site systems in a primary site and the
clients assigned to them generate automatically.
• Content, such as packages, application files,  and software updates that deployments use.
Depending on its type, data can be used in the local site only or can be replicated to other sites in the hierarchy. The administrator determines where content is transferred by configuring content distribution. Configuration Manager 2012 uses different replication methods, depending on the data type being replicated.

Types of Site Data
Site data is operational information that Configuration Manager sites and clients generate
automatically. After site data is generated at the originating primary site or secondary site, it
replicates to the central administration site but not to other primary or secondary sites.
For example, primary sites use collection rules to determine collection membership, resulting in the list of members. The list of members is an example of site data. The list contains clients assigned to a primary site, and clients that meet the collection’s membership criteria.
Another example of site data is client inventory. Clients generate hardware and software inventory, which is then added to each primary site’s database, which in turn replicates to the central administration

Content Types
Configuration Manager administrators create content at the central administration site or at
primary sites. Content is transferred down the hierarchy to site servers and distribution points
according to distribution settings that administrators configure.
Configuration Manager 2012 uses the same Server Message Block–based (SMB-based), file-based replication mechanism as Configuration Manager 2007 to transfer content, such as packages, between sites.

Intersite Communication in Configuration Manager 2012
Within a hierarchy, the sites communicate with each other by exchanging data. The
communications occur by using either database replication or file-based replication.
Database Replication
Configuration Manager 2012 database replication is a custom replication method. Configuration Manager 2012 does not use the older replication methods included in Microsoft SQL Server®, such as transactional replication. You do not need to install SQL Server–based replication components. Configuration Manager database replication uses SQL Server Service Broker to transfer data between SQL Server databases installed in different sites in a hierarchy.
By default, the Configuration Manager database replication mechanism uses the following ports to transfer data:
• Port 1433 for the SQL Server instance
• Port 4022 for the SQL Server Service Broker
If you have configured the SQL Server instance to use different ports, the SQL Server Service port will be detected automatically and you will have to specify a non-default SQL Server Service Broker port.
File-Based Replication
File-based replication between Configuration Manager 2012 sites uses the same mechanism as
Configuration Manager 2007 replication. This mechanism is based on senders and the SMB protocol.  The SMB protocol uses TCP port 445.
Note: A sender is the communication mechanism implemented in Configuration Manager
to transmit data between sites and control bandwidth usage. The sender uses SMB as the
underlying communication protocol. Unlike Configuration Manager 2007, Configuration
Manager 2012 supports only a single type of sender.
Configuration Manager 2012 secondary sites use file-based replication to transfer site data to their parent primary site. File-based replication is also used to transfer fallback status point state messages to the assigned site when a client’s assigned site does not have a fallback status point. In addition, the initial transfer of discovery data records to the assigned site requires the use of file-based replication.
Data Destination
Package files used by deployments Sent to distribution points located in primary and secondary sites. Secondary site data Sent to the parent primary site of the secondary site.
Fallback status point state messages Forwarded to the assigned site when only a single fallback status  point is in use in a hierarchy.

Data Destination
Discovery data records Forwarded to the assigned site when clients are not assigned to
the site that discovered them. The discovery data record is
processed locally at the assigned site and the information is
replicated to other sites in the hierarchy by using database
replication.
Data collected from clients at  secondary sites
Transferred to the parent primary site by using file-based replication.
How Global Data Is Replicated in a Hierarchy
Global data consists of configuration information
that administrators create. Global data is
replicated to all sites in the hierarchy.
Creation of Global Data
Administrators can create global data by using the
Configuration Manager console connected at the
central administration site or at any primary site.
The types of global data that an administrator can
create depend on the security roles assigned to
that administrator:
• Typically, the hierarchy administrator can
create global data in any site in the hierarchy.
• Security scopes usually limit the primary site administrators’ permissions. This allows primary site
administrators to manage objects from only their primary site. Any objects that they create are global
data and will be replicated to the central administration site and all other primary sites.
Replication of Global Data
Global data is replicated to the central administration site and all primary sites in the hierarchy by using
database replication. A subset of global data is replicated to secondary sites by using database replication.
For example, consider a Configuration Manager hierarchy that consists of a central administration site and
two primary sites, Site A and Site B. An administrator creates a collection in primary Site A. The collection
definition, which includes membership rules, is replicated to the central administration site and to primary
Site B. The collection membership rules are evaluated at both primary sites; both Site A and Site B
determine the list of collection members for their respective sites based on collection membership rules.
Collection membership, however, is site data.
Multiple Edits of Global Data
Different administrators who are in different locations can attempt to edit the same global object at the
same time. To prevent multiple administrators from editing the same data, when the first administrator
opens an object for editing, this action places a lock on the object. When other administrators attempt to
open the object, they will receive a message indicating that the object is in use and is available as readonly. After the first administrator closes the object, other administrators can edit the object.

How Site Data Is Replicated in a Hierarchy
Site data is generated automatically as a result of site activity. Configuration Manager
administrators can review and delete site data, but depending on how it was created, it may
be generated again.
Creation of Site Data
Both Configuration Manager clients and site systems in each site can generate site data. For
example:
• A site server can generate an alert if the replication between sites is not functioning
correctly.
• A client collects hardware and software inventory and sends it to its assigned primary site.
• A client sends status messages related to a deployment to the primary site.
Replication of Site Data
Site data is located at the originating primary site and is replicated to only the central administration site by using database replication. Secondary sites use file-based replication to transfer site data to their parent primary site.
Accessing Site Data
Site data is available in the Configuration Manager console and through reports. When using reports, administrators can access site data from a primary site or from the entire hierarchy, depending on the location from which the reports are run. Hierarchy administrators can access site data from all sites in the hierarchy by connecting the Configuration Manager console to the central administration site or by running reports on a reporting services point in the central administration site. Administrators who connect the Configuration Manager console to a primary site or run reports from a reporting point in a primary site generate reports that contain site data from only the local site.For example, consider a hierarchy that contains a central administration site, primary sites named Site A and Site B, and a secondary site, Site C, which is a child of Site B. In this scenario, the site administrator from Site A can access site data from only Site A and the site administrator from Site B can access site data from only primary Site B and its secondary Site C. The administrator from the central administration site
can access site data from all the sites in the hierarchy.

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