What to use – SCCM hierarchy or standalone Primary site?

Logbook of the Captain – sidereal time: 2017.07.25

By designing ConfigMgr infrastructures, the time has come in projects (hopefully at the beginning), where you have to decide between two different types of ConfigMgr infrastructures:

Standalone primary site or hierarchy

But what do you have to use in which situation? Probably the opinions tend to differ sharply.

First of all: Use Microsoft guides to get the visions the manufacturer want to provide: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sccm/core/understand/fundamentals-of-sites-and-hierarchies

Second of all: There is a good method to decide, what is really needed in your infrastructure. Technically there are no reasons to use a hierarchy than having more than 150k Clients in your network. Everything can be done by a single primary site. Keep in mind, that using an hierarchy increase the complexity of the system in connection with maintenance etc.

Third of all: Keep in mind which situation may require a rethink. German customers i.e. are completely different and want to split infrastructure to seperate site servers physically, while insisting on this fact due to company compliance or something else.

My experience with ConfigMgr tells another story. The experiences with hierarchies in projects and at customers networks are very good. We use security scopes and modified security roles to seperate control inside the System and between site Servers. But you have to keep also in mind, data will be synchronized through the whole infrastructure and can not be seperated by using different site servers.

Some weeks ago I’ve discussed a question in connection with an hierarchy error with some guys via Microsoft TechNet Forum. Unfortunately, my error was not solved, because first the discussion came up: “Why I use a hierarchy and please only use standalone primary site, it provides all you will need.” (Different colleagues tell same stories about TechNet questions and discussions and were shocked by the behavior of the responding People, because they seemed almost obsessed with their own opinion).

Long story short: My answer is yes, you can only use standalone Primary sites, but why not to use hierarchy if it fits. I would only use a hierarchy if it meets the conditions of the customer and the administrative effort is achievable. Apart from this, a hierarchy does not make sense if it is less than i.e. 2000 Clients. It also makes no sense to build individual primary sites in a hierarchy  for each department or something else. For example, to set up secondary sites in order to be able to act even more granularly is likewise not useful. This increases unnecessarily the complexity.

Captain over and out…

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