Last month, one of the largest transportation companies asked 1E how our Nomad product could help them accelerate the deployment of ConfigMgr to their PC estate. They had been working with several contractors to install and configure ConfigMgr into Azure, but were unable to address the slow rollout of the SCCM client to their computers – mainly due to a large number of computers they have and the vast number of “locations”. A location could be a small office with only a few computers connected by a consumer ADSL service, or just one or two computers on a train with a GPRS/3G/4G/LTE connection!
The customers’ architecture team already understood the content distribution challenges (and many other issues) of having ConfigMgr in the cloud, so Nomad was already on the table. But in this instance, they needed to understand how Nomad could accelerate the ConfigMgr deployment – the project was already several months behind.
The current method of the rollout was slow because the team was forced to upgrade one site at a time, due to the following constraints:
- Understanding the number and type of devices at the target location
- Discover the WAN connection details and average utilisation – so they could configure the BITS transfer rate policy
- Discover the IP network information – to configure the site boundary in ConfigMgr
- Schedule the installation of the ConfigMgr Client onto the computers so it doesn’t interrupt the daily business.
We demonstrated how Nomad would eliminate the need to perform this level of discovery for each and every site. Nomad manages the bandwidth itself, and site boundaries are no longer needed either – this is basic stuff for Nomad!
The remaining challenge was getting the ConfigMgr Client source files to the computers without the need to schedule the download, and without disrupting the day-to-day business operations. Again, this is basic stuff for Nomad!
Microsoft suggests several ways to deploy the ConfigMgr Client in a greenfield site (one that doesn’t have an existing or standardised systems management tool), but they all require every computer to download the source files. The size of the ConfigMgr client source files (and pre-requisites) can range from 220MB up to 350MB, so you can’t just instruct all your clients to install it at the same time using the Client Push Installation feature.
Microsoft has described the possible methods and their disadvantages (notice that every method may cause high network traffic!)
Let’s cut to the chase; we can use Nomad’s ReverseQoS (intelligent bandwidth throttling technology) and Nomad’s caching and peer-to-peer sharing to make it considerably easier and faster to deploy ConfigMgr, not just at one site, but to all sites faster than they thought was even possible!
By using Nomad to download and install the ConfigMgr Client, this organisation will be able to rollout ConfigMgr immediately, and without needing to create a site boundary for every location, and comfortably know that Nomad will prevent a huge amount of network traffic being transferred over their WAN links.
The process is very simple actually:
- First of all, you’ll need to duplicate the ConfigMgr Client Package into a new package, so you can Nomad-enable this new package for distribution using Nomad (other options are available here)
- Now you’ll need to deploy the Nomad Agent (using Group Policy Software Installation) to all your client computers – it’s only 10MB and is the smallest of all the content that needs to be downloaded.
The following steps will be wrapped up into a VBScript that can be deployed as a Computer Start-up Script using Group Policy – when a computer is next restarted the VBScript will run and will initiate Nomad to download the ConfigMgr Client source files and install the ConfigMgr Client (if Nomad or the ConfigMgr client aren’t already installed).
- Use Nomad to download the ConfigMgr Client
- The very first computer at a remote site will use Nomad’s ReverseQoS to download the source files over the WAN, and cache it on its local hard drive
- Every subsequent computer will use Nomad peer-to-peer sharing to download the source files locally (from the first computer, rather than download over the WAN link)
- Install the ConfigMgr Client.
The following script does the heavy lifting for us – and you will need to customise the variables to match your environment, such as a central distribution point server name (sSMSDP), management point (sSMSMP), site code (sSMSSiteCode) and PackageID and version for the ConfigMgr Client Package (sContentID & sContentVer). I’ve highlighted the variables in red that will need changing.
You may also want to customise the CCMSetup.exe command-line to suit your ConfigMgr configuration.
When this script runs on a computer for the first time, it will:
- Ensure the NomadBranch service is started,
- Download the ConfigMgr Client installation files using Nomad (which will obtain the files either locally from another peer client, or from the specified Distribution Point),
- Copy the installation files from the Nomad Cache folder into a temporary folder, and
- Install the ConfigMgr Client using the specified ccmsetup.exe command-line.
What this all meant to the customer is that we were able to roll out the ConfigMgr Client to all their computers in all site locations in just a couple of weeks! This is just basic stuff for Nomad!