ALTIRIS Package Server

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1 ALTIRIS Package Server The information contained in the Altiris knowledgebase is subject to the Terms of Use as outlined at

2 History Additions / Edits Date 1st Draft 7/19/06 Final Draft 7/21/06 Dev. Tech Edit 7/21/06 QA Tech Edit 7/21/06 Copy Edit 9/20/06 SP1 updates Dev. Tech Edit QA Tech Edit Best Practices - Package Server 2

3 Contents Chapter 1: Introduction Chapter 2: Understanding Package Servers How Package Servers Work How Packages are Distributed Benefits of using Package Servers Sample Scenario Chapter 3: Planning for Package Servers Package Server Rollout Disk Space Planning Installation Prerequisites Optimizing Package Server Usage Using Package Servers with Altiris Software Delivery Solution Using Package Servers with Multicasting Monitoring your Package Servers Best Practices - Package Server 3

4 Chapter 1 Introduction This document is designed to provide a best practice guide to working with Package Servers in your Altiris infrastructure. It helps you understand how Package Servers are an essential part of any Altiris environment, used as a remote distribution point for hosting files, packages, images, personality packages, and more, so they can be accessed by managed computers. You will learn the best practice for planning rollout of Package Servers in your environment, good management to minimize bandwidth use and maximize distribution speed, transmitting packages to a select group through Multicasting and secure, bandwidth-sensitive distribution of applications and updates throughout your organization with Altiris Software Delivery Solution software (if suitable). There are various illustrated sample scenarios throughout the document to help you understand and implement Package Servers. The following topics are covered in this document: Understanding Package Servers. See Understanding Package Servers (page 5). Designing your system to use Package Servers. See Planning for Package Servers (page 10). Optimizing your Package Server use. See Optimizing Package Server Usage (page 12). Package Distribution - when to push packages. See Package Distribution Recommendations (page 11). Terminology Package - One or more files that can be delivered using Package Servers as defined in Software Delivery tasks. Package Server - A file server with Altiris software installed that acts as a remote distribution point for hosting files, packages, images, personality packages, and more so they can be accessed by managed computers. Package Servers are typically close to the computers that will access them. Client computers on the WAN download files from a Package Server close to them, minimizing bandwidth impacts across the WAN. Package Server Agent - Software that handles the downloading of packages between the Notification Server and the Altiris Agent. Software Delivery task - Software grouped for or sent from Package Servers. Best Practices - Package Server 4

5 Chapter 2 Understanding Package Servers A Package Server is a file server that acts as a remote distribution point for hosting files, packages, images, personality packages, and more, so they can be accessed by managed computers. The Package Server receives the packages, and so on, from the Notification Server and makes them available to Altiris agents for download. Package Server software lets you spread the network load of distributing software from multiple remote locations rather than a single location (which can cause severe bandwidth problems). This software allows remote Altiris agents to get updates from a Package Server that is local to their network segment, reducing traffic on the rest of the network. It enables agents to determine the nearest Package Server and also the fastest Package Server to download data from. It also allows load balancing of multiple Altiris agents across multiple Package Servers. Other features include: Checkpoint Recovery - Automatic recovery of downloads in case of failure. Bandwidth Throttling - Control the bandwidth usage when downloading in your Altiris environment. Package Download Retry feature - Enable a package to retry download after failure. The amount of time is doubled before another attempt to download the package, until a maximum backoff time is reached (by default, two hours). See How Package Servers Work (page 5) How Packages are Distributed (page 6) Benefits of using Package Servers (page 7) How Package Servers Work 1. Select a managed computer as a Package Server. 2. The Package Server Agent is automatically downloaded and installed to that managed computer. 3. Package Servers receive configuration information through Altiris Agent policies (example: details on packages that a given Package Server will host). 4. The Package Server Agent handles the downloading of packages between the Notification Server and the Altiris Agent. 5. The Package Server can begin to distribute this package to other Package Servers, reducing the load and traffic on the Notification Server. 6. At intervals, the Package Server refreshes and reapplies package credentials, as well as package file locations. You can do this manually by clicking the Package Refresh button on the Package Server user interface. Best Practices - Package Server 5

6 7. The Package Server Agent sends an event with information about the current package status (ready, invalid, or pending) every 24 hours. You can do this manually by clicking the Resend Package Status button on the Packager Server Agent user interface. Note Altiris agents are unaware of packages until they are attached to a Software Delivery task. However, with Package Servers, as soon as the package has been created, the next time an assigned Package Server requests Altiris Agent Settings policies, the package will be downloaded. Package Servers do not need a Software Delivery task to download a package. The following graphic shows the complete flow involved from adding Package Servers to receiving Software Delivery tasks. How Packages are Distributed If you create a package and specify Package Servers to send it to, the following occurs: 1. The Altiris Agent requests policy information from the Notification Server. 2. If the policy contains package information, the Package Server Agent checks if packages have been modified or need to be downloaded. 3. The Package Server Agent downloads the new package, or, if a package has been modified, the Package Server Agent downloads the modified part only. 4. The Package Server Agent returns events to the Notification Server saying it has the latest package ready for distribution to requesting Altiris agents. 5. When an Altiris Agent receives a software delivery task and requires a package for download, it receives a list of Package Servers with the package. The list of Package Servers returned to the Altiris Agent depends on how you configured sites in the Site Maintenance page. See Notification Server Help. 6. The Altiris Agent determines which Package Server will return the package fastest and begins downloading. Best Practices - Package Server 6

7 Benefits of using Package Servers This section shows how the introduction of Package Servers significantly: Reduces network traffic Increases efficient use of the WAN Reduces network bottlenecks Sample Scenario This scenario compares the results of sending packages through a sample environment without and then with Package Servers. The network infrastructure consists of: 1 Notification Server 30 managed computers 20 within the LAN, 10 at a remote site connected through a 1.5 Mbps tunnel 4 switches A,B,C,D and 1 VLAN per switch 2 routers Sending a Package without Package Servers The following table shows results and observations from sending a 10 Mb package to all managed computers without Package Servers or defined sites. Results 100 MB of traffic transmitted over the WAN 300 MB of traffic from Notification Server to first switch A Observations Large bottleneck between the Notification Server and switch A Inefficient use of WAN link, 10 times the amount of traffic required is transmitted over the WAN Best Practices - Package Server 7

8 Results 150 MB of traffic from switch A to B 50 MB of traffic from switch A to C 100 MB of traffic from switch A to D Observations Sending Packages with Package Servers Next, send the same 10 Mb package to all managed computers with: 2 sites defined: Site A x LAN Site B x Remote Site 1 Package Server in each site Results without Package Servers 100 MB of traffic transmitted over the WAN 300 MB of traffic from Notification Server to first switch A Results with Package Server 10 MB of traffic transmitted over the WAN 20 MB of traffic from Notification Server to first switch A Observations using Package Servers Efficient use of WAN link. A lot of traffic on link between switch A and B. Best Practices - Package Server 8

9 Results without Package Servers 150 MB of traffic from switch A to B 50 MB of traffic from switch A to C 100 MB of traffic from switch A to D Results with Package Server 60 MB of traffic from switch A to B 50 MB of traffic from switch A to C 10 MB of traffic from switch A to D 200 MB of traffic between Package Server and switch B Observations using Package Servers Heavy traffic between Package Servers and switches. Comparing Results Introducing Package Servers resulted in: Network traffic reduced. 350 MB of traffic, as opposed to 900 MB without Package Servers. Efficient use of the WAN. 93% reduction in bottleneck between the Notification Server and Switch A. 20 MB of traffic from the Notification Server to switch A, as opposed to 300 MB without Package Servers. Best Practices - Package Server 9

10 Chapter 3 Planning for Package Servers This chapter covers all the relevant topics about planning for Package Server rollout in your environment. See Package Server Rollout (page 10) Disk Space Planning (page 11) Installation Prerequisites (page 11) Optimizing Package Server Usage (page 12) Monitoring your Package Servers (page 14) Package Server Rollout The number of Package Servers required in any environment is based on your network topology and bandwidth. It also depends on the size and frequency of the packages to be delivered and the number of managed computers. You must fully understand your own network topology (switches, subnets, and so on) and its network traffic capabilities before rolling out Package Servers. Knowing your environment and the size, frequency, and timing of packages sent will dictate your Package Server placement. For information, see Sample Scenario (page 7) and Using Package Servers with Multicasting (page 12). Package Server Rollout Recommendations Stagger the deployment of Package Servers. Also, stagger the deployment of packages to the Package Server. Deploy a few packages at a time on all Package Servers, or deploy a reasonable amount of packages to only a few Package Servers at a time. The following table lists the number of Package Servers recommended for the number of managed computers for one site. No. Managed Computers No. Package Servers If you have multiple sites, add a Package Server for each site. To measure Package Server requirements for an individual site within your environment, use the recommendations in the previous table and treat the site as its own environment. Best Practices - Package Server 10

11 To see if multicasting can improve your package delivery, see Using Package Servers with Multicasting (page 12). Package Distribution Recommendations Notification Server 6.0 SP3 supports: 600 Package Servers, 6,000 packages, with a 1 hour configuration interval. You can add 100 new Package Servers every 18 hours. Plan your package distribution to minimize network traffic and load. You can: Assign a package to all Package Servers. Assign a package to selected Package Servers. Manually assign sites to packages from a list of sites configured in the Site Maintenance page. For information, see Notification Server Help. When a site is assigned to a package, all Package Servers within the selected site will host the package. Configure servers automatically with manual prestaging so sites will be automatically assigned to packages according to Altiris Agent and Package Server requirements for that package. For information, see Notification Server Help. Disk Space Planning To save disk space on your Package Server, select a different package location. When the storage location for a package is changed to a custom location, the Package Server: Moves the files from the old location to the new location Deletes the old location Checks what is to be downloaded When files are removed from a package, the Package Server deletes them when it refreshes the package. However, removed files aren t deleted if the package has a custom location as it can t determine if the files are part of the package. Example: Several packages with the same destination or the custom location contain user files. Also, as the Package Server is installed on the same drive as the Altiris Agent, you can select a different drive when installing the agent. To change the package download location, see Altiris Knowledgebase article Installation Prerequisites One of the following operating systems: Windows* NT Windows 2000 Windows XP Windows 2003 Altiris Agent installed. 500 MB Hard Disk minimum, checked before package download. Best Practices - Package Server 11

12 You can set this minimum value to suit your needs. To change this value, see Altiris Knowledgebase article % of package size for each package to be downloaded. Example: 500 MB package requires 520 MB disk space. 384 MB RAM minimum (500 MB recommended). NTFS File System. IIS 4 or later version. IIS is required for HTTP downloads. Microsoft File & Print is required for UNC downloads. Optimizing Package Server Usage This section details various methods and scenarios to help you optimize your package Server usage. Using Package Servers with Altiris Software Delivery Solution Altiris Software Delivery Solution software lets you define a group of files, called a package, to be distributed to Altiris agents through Software Delivery tasks. These tasks, or notices, are sent to the Altiris agents to inform them that a package is available and define when and how the program in the package should run. When Software Delivery Solution is used in large Altiris environments there can be a very high number of Software Delivery packages that need to be distributed to managed computers. If there are no Package Servers in your Altiris environment, then the Notification Server alone will have to handle the distribution of packages to all requesting Altiris agents. By introducing Package Servers, the Notification Server load will be reduced significantly as Altiris agents and other Package Servers will instead contact their local Package Server for any download requests they may have. Package Servers will also reduce overall network traffic and speed up the delivery of packages to Altiris agents at remote sites. Using Package Servers with Multicasting Multicasting is a Notification Server feature that can help you optimize your Package Server use. Multicasting enables efficient delivery of data to many locations on a network, one network device to send messages to multiple recipients, and identification of groups of devices (as opposed to a single device) that listen for certain messages sent to them. Why use Multicasting with Package Servers? Multicasting ensures the most efficient transmission of packages to Altiris agents. It reduces the load on Package Servers by reducing the number of Altiris agents that need to connect to and download from Package Servers. It also decreases network utilization by multicasting package data to peers. Sample Scenario Your network is configured as in Sending Packages with Package Servers (page 8). If you now enable multicasting on all managed computers through the various Altiris Agent Best Practices - Package Server 12

13 Settings policies and create a Software Delivery task to roll out a 10 MB package with multicasting enabled, you get the following results. Results without Multicasting using Package Servers 10 MB of traffic transmitted over the WAN 20 MB of traffic from Notification Server to first switch A 60 MB of traffic from switch A to B 50 MB of traffic from switch A to C 10 MB of traffic from switch A to D 200 MB of traffic between Package Server and switch B Results with Multicasting 10 MB of traffic is transmitted over the WAN 20 MB of traffic from Notification Server to first switch A 20 MB of traffic from switch A to B 10 MB of traffic from switch A to C 10 MB of traffic from switch A to D 20 MB of traffic between Package Server and switch B Observations using Multicasting Optimal use of WAN link Near optimal use of all other links Comparing Results Comparing with the results from the configuration detailed in Sending Packages with Package Servers (page 8) identifies: Optimal use of the WAN No bottlenecks Near optimal use of all links When not to use Multicasting Do not use multicasting for dynamic packages, as they change frequently. Example: A 20 GB package that changes by 1 MB per day results in the entire package being multicast daily. Because Altiris agents can only download one package at a time, ensure you are aware of the Wait time to begin session option and the Client Configuration Request interval. The default value is 50% of the Client Configuration Request interval. Example: If the Client Configuration Request interval is set to 7 days, your wait time to begin the session would be 3.5 days, thus preventing other package downloads during the wait time. Multicasting can reduce WAN utilization in remote sites that do not have a dedicated Package Server. The first agent to download the package will cross the WAN, but other agents on the same site will download from that agent using multicast. Deployment through multicast can be slow as it transmits at the rate of the slowest Altiris Agent. Note this when deploying critical updates. Best Practices - Package Server 13

14 Monitoring your Package Servers There are several reports that let you view Package Server status. Open the Package Server Status reports to view: Package Distribution Event - Reports on the status, transfer rate, and event time for each package and server. Package Server password expiry - Lists Package Servers with local ACC passwords due. Package Server account creation failure - Lists Package Servers that failed to create a local ACC account. Package Server DC account creation failure - Lists Package Servers with local ACC accounts created on a DC when the Create Account option is disabled. Package Server account locked - Lists Package Servers with a locked out local ACC account. Package summary - Reports on the size and version of a package and how many servers they reside in. Recovered Packages - Lists recovered packages. Server load summary - Lists amount of packages downloaded (from the Notification Server or another Package Server) and their average transfer rate. Server summary - Summarizes each Package Server, the packages hosted, the status, and disk space used. Servers With Recovered Events - Reports on servers with recovered events. Note Drill down into these reports for detailed data. Example: Where the Package Server is installed. Best Practices - Package Server 14

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