Commission new SCCM Distribution Point server

Hi all, in today’s post I am going to explain a task that one of my customers asked me to undertake on their behalf. They currently have multiple dedicated Distribution Points in their existing SCCM environment running Windows Server 2008 R2 and wish to migrate these servers to Windows Server 2016 servers.

In this guide we will be using the latest version of SCCM, at the time of writing this is SCCM Current Branch – Build 1610.

At a high level the steps we will be performing are:

  1. Preparing the server
  2. Adding the new server to the SCCM console
  3. Verify Installation
  4. Assign and obtain content from new Distribution Point

Note: It is possible to perform an in-place upgrade of the OS on a DP, but in this guide we will be standing up a new DP server. In a separate blog post I will explain the process for decommissioning the old DP’s which would need to be performed to complete my task.

1. Preparing the new server:

  1. Install the Operating System – In this guide we will be using Windows Server 2016, but the process will be the same for other Server OS’s
  2. Ensure the new server is named appropriately – it is not possible to use the same host name so make sure you give the new server a new name. Note: In this guide we will name our new server SCCMDPcapture
  3. Assign a second disk to the server – This step isn’t essential but it is considered good practice to keep the Windows installation and the SCCM Content Library on separate partitions at least to ensure no possible conflicts. In this guide we will assign the new disk the letter Dcapture2
  4. Domain join the new server – it is not essential for the server to be joined to the same domain at the SCCM site server but there must be a trust relationship between the 2 domains if not. In this guide we will use the domain testlab.comcapture3
  5. Install latest updates on Server – As always, I would recommend taking this opportunity to ensure the new server is fully patched per your organizations patching policy                                                   capture4
  6. Install the Distribution Point pre-requisites – Using Server Manager, install the required Roles and Features for the distribution Point role. These are as follows (as documented on Microsoft TechNet here )untitleduntitled2untitled3untitled4
  7. Add the SCCM site server to local admins – The SCCM site server account needs to be added to the local administrators group on the new server, this can ether be the account itself or a group containing the site serveruntitled5
  8. Create NO_SMS_ON_DRIVE.SMS file – Later in this guide we will provide a drive letter for SCCM to use to create the Content Library, however if this drive then becomes full then the library will start using available space on the server other drives. It is not desirable for the Content Library to spill onto the same drive as the Operating System so to prevent this a file should be created in the root of C: named NO_SMS_ON_DRIVE.SMS with no content (more information on this process can be found on the TechNet site here)

OK, so we have now prepared our server and are now ready to add the SCCM Distribution Point role

2. Adding the new Distribution Point to SCCM console

  1. Open the SCCM console – Open the SCCM console from any server and ensure that you logon using an account that has permissions to create new site servers (‘Full Administrator’ will have this ability)
  2. Navigate to Servers and Site System Roles – Once in the SCCM console then navigate to Administration -> Site Configuration -> Servers and Site System Rolesuntitled6
  3. Create Site System Server – From the ribbon bar select ‘Create Site System Server’ and enter the FQDN of our new Distribution Point Server. Also, select the required site for the Distribution Point to reside untitled6
  4. Specify Internet proxy server – Our Distribution Point server will not be contacting the Internet directly so there is no need to specify a proxy server here untitled7
  5. Specify roles for this server – Here is where we specify the role we will be adding to our new server, obviously we want to chose Distribution Point untitled8
  6. Specify distribution point settings – In the page I recommend selecting the ‘Install and configure IIS if required by Configuration Manager’ option as this will verify that ISS is configured correctly for the role. Configure any other settings as required in your environment untitled9
  7. Specify drive settings for this distribution point – On this page we need to change our ‘Primary content library location’ and ‘Primary package share location’ to the D drive, this ensures that both package types will be created on the D drive initially. Unfortunately it is not possible to disable the Secondary locations so SCCM will attempt to use another drive once the Primary location drive gets below the 50Mb specified but the NO_SMS_ON_DRIVE.SMS file we created earlier stops this from consuming space on the C drive and filling the OS drive untitled10
  8. Specify settings to configure a pull distribution point – We will not be using a pull Distribution Point in this guide so leave this option disabled untitled11
  9. Specify settings to install operating systems by using PXE boot – In this guide we will not be configuring PXE booting for out new Distribution Point. This can be configured later if required untitled12
  10. Specify multicast settings for operating system deployment – In this guide we will not be configuring multicast for out new Distribution Point. This can be configured later if required untitled13
  11. Specify the content validation settings – On this page we are going to enable the content validation feature but leave the default schedule of every Saturday at 12am. This will ensure that the content on the DP’s is validated on a regular basis untitled14
  12. Specify the boundary groups to associate with this site system – This page allows for assigning this new Distribution Point to a specific Boundary Group meaning only clients in the Boundary group can obtain content from the Distribution Point. If a Boundary Group is not specified then the content is available to all clients regardless of their Boundary Group. We will use the default Boundary group untitled15
  13. Complete wizard – The summary and progress pages are then displayed. Simply skip through these

We have now completed the installation of our new Distribution Point so we are in a position to proceed with verifying the installation and ensuring content can be assigned to it successfully

3. Verify Installation

Now that we have installed our new Distribution Point we need to ensure that the installation was successfully and content can be assigned

  1. Check Distribution Point Status – in the SCCM console browse to Monitoring -> Distribution Status -> Distribution Point Configuration Status. Our new Distribution Point should now show in the list and have a green tickuntitled16

Note: In my lab the Distribution Point initially displayed with a red cross. This was because SCCM tries to distribute the 4 SCCM client packages to all DP’s in the hierarchy. Unfortunately, the site server attempts this before the installation of the DP role is complete so initially the packages failed. SCCM does automatically attempt to retry failed packages every 30 mins, and the client packages succeeded on the first retry

2. Check file structure on the Distribution Point – On our new Distribution you should now see a folder structure on the D drive as below

  1. untitled17

After performing these check I am happy that the DP installation has been verified and is ready for use

 

4. Assign and obtain content from new Distribution Point

Now we have created the new Distribution Point we need to verify that clients can use it as a download location to ensure it is operational. To do this we will assign an application to the DP and then check the download logs from a client to ensure it is using our new DP as the source location

  1. Assign content to Distribution Point – Using the SCCM console I am going to distribute the content of an existing Application to my new DP. To do this, navigate to Software Library -> Application Management -> Applications, select the desired application and click Distribute Content from the ribbon bar. You will then need to complete the wizard, ensuring to select the new Distribution Point on the ‘Specify the content destination’ page untitled18
  2. Verifying content distribution – I can first see that the content is being processed as the pie chart shows yellow for my only Distribution Point Untitled19.png
  3. Eventually the status will change to success and the pie chat will show as green, this may take some time for larger applications Untitled20.png
  4. Verify using log file (optional) – I can also verify the successful distribution of the application source files from the distmgr.log file on the SCCM site server. This is not necessary if the distribution is successful but if errors are encountered this is the log file that will assist with diagnosing the issue Untitled21.png
  5. Download content from client – Now we know the content is available on our new Distribution Point we can start a client download by manually executing the application on a workstation and checking the DataTransferService.log file to ensure the new DP is being used as the source location untitled22

This now proves that the new DP is serving content to clients successfully so we can continue to assign any additional content to the Distribution Point and be sure that clients will be able to access the content successfully.

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