SCCM Collections and Recommendations
In Configuration Manager, collections are fundamental to the way you interact with your managed workstations. So before you begin pushing out operating system images or software packages, it makes sense to examine your workflow, how you like to manage these systems, and make decisions about organizing your collections accordingly.
There are a few things to keep in mind when creating and organizing collections:
- A computer can be in more than one collection at a time
- You can only assign an advertisement to one collection at a time
- Collections can be dynamic (query-based membership) or static (direct membership)
- You can nest collections
Query-based collections are dynamic in nature. Config Manager queries its database based on some criteria that you provide and then populates the collection with the resulting objects that meet that criteria. Direct membership collections are static in nature. You directly (and manually) tell Config Manager which objects should be members of the collection.
You'll want to keep software distribution in mind when creating your collections. Instead of creating a collection for a building or lab worth of computers, you may need to create a dynamic collection for all of your machines that need one particular application.
Recommended Collection Structure
ITS has a recommended collection structure that seems to work well. What follows is a graphic containing the recommended structure and then a description of each collection in it (where "Test" would be replaced by your department abbreviation).
Dept. Systems (OU)
This collection is your department's root collection created by ITS at the time you signed up for SCCM service. It is a query-based collection that queries your root OU in Active Directory and populates it with any computer objects found there. As you manipulate computer objects in your OU, moving them in or out, this collection should be updated automatically the next time Active Directory discovery runs in SCCM.
Dept. - _Healthy Clients
The healthy clients collection contains all your workstations that have the SCCM client installed and that have reported their hardware inventory in to the site server in the past thirty days. These two factors are typically a good indication that the client is functioning properly on the workstation and that communication between the client and site server is flowing as expected.
Dept. - _No Client
The No Client collection contains all your workstations that don't have the SCCM client installed for one reason or another. This collection is a handy list to keep around so you know which machines are not currently able to be managed by SCCM. As you get the client installed on these machines, they will automatically drop out of this collection and populate themselves into the Healthy Clients collection.
Dept. - _Unhealthy Clients
The Unhealthy clients collection contains all workstations that don't fit into the Healthy Clients collection. These machines have either not checked in to report their hardware inventory in the past thirty days or they don't have the SCCM client installed. Often times this collection contains machines that have been turned off for a period of time longer than thirty days, or that the SCCM client is somehow corrupted or otherwise damaged. Reinstalling the SCCM client on these machines often times fixes the issue. As machines in this collection are fixed or have the client installed for the first time or reinstalled to fix an issue, they will automatically drop out and populate themselves into the Healthy Clients collection.
Dept. - [Insert Software Title]
The next three collections in the graphic above are all for various Adobe products and are just examples of software that needs to be frequently updated, but you could make collections for any software titles that you may need to. In the above example, these collections are populated with all the computers whose version of the named software title (Adobe Flash Player for example) is out of date. You get to define the current version number in the WQL statement used to create the dynamic collection. These collections then allow you to simply push out the most current version of the software to them. Once they have the newer software installed, they no longer meet the criteria used to create the collection, and they will automatically drop out.
It should be noted that these collections are limited by your healthy clients collection. This way, you are only ever pushing out software to clients who are going to be able to receive it.
Dept. - [Insert Operating System]
These collections should be fairly obvious. They contain all the clients that are running the named version of the OS. Again, this is a dynamic collection that is limited by your healthy clients collection.
Dept. - [Insert Hardware Architecture]
Again, these collections are exactly what the name implies. They contain all clients that are running on the specified hardware architecture, either 32-bit or 64-bit.
Dept. - Workbench
The Workbench collection contains no clients by default. It has a permanent advertisement for your OS Task Sequence assigned to it, however. Then, when you discover a machine that needs to be re-imaged, the security office informs you that one is infected with a virus, for example, you add that single machine to the collection with a direct membership rule. As soon as it joins the collection, it should pick up the task sequence advertisement and begin re-imaging itself. When it's done re-imaging itself, you remove its direct membership rule so it leaves the collection.
Other Collection Considerations
The above collections do not have to be your only collections. In fact, it might make sense to create collections for each building or room where you have computers. You could create collections for each computer model you have. That way, you could deploy BIOS updates/settings or drivers to them using the Dell Client Configuration Utility and SCCM.
Remember, computers can be in more than one collection so you can really create as many as you need/want.