ServersSupporting Mobile SMS Clients Just Got (a little) Easier

Supporting Mobile SMS Clients Just Got (a little) Easier





by Dana Daugherty

This article is based on the recent Hot Fix
for Q article Q281107 and 2 tools from SMS 2.0 Support Tools
(Clitravl.exe and Site4c.exe). It highlights my organization’s
use of these tools and the application of the hot fix.
Initially, SMS 2.0 provided little support for traveling and
home based users. Hopefully this article will make your life a
little easier.

This
article highlights my organization’s use of two new tools from the
SMS 2.0 Support Tools site and the application of a recently
released hot fix. Initially, SMS 2.0 provided little support for
traveling and home based users. Hopefully this article will make
your life a little easier.

Our corporate infrastructure and behavior,
pertinent to this article, looks like
this: 

  • 5 US and 4 European SMS locations (9 SMS
    sites)
  • 50% of our 1200 employees use a
    laptop.
  • 100+ work from home.
  • Roughly 20% travel to other sites at least
    once per year.

Here is some basic information on supporting
traveling and home based SMS clients.

Traveling Clients – This would
include any system that has has an SMS Client installed, that
is logged on to a network that is not included in the site
boundaries list at the system’s installed site. The traveling
user does return to hisher installed site. Support issues
include keeping clients installed and reporting to the correct
sites.

Home Based User (AKA Clients connected
via slow link)
– This user works from home or from a
location that does not have an SMS site server. Support issues
include those mentioned for Traveling Clients plus
installation issues. The client is too large for dial-up. The
client must be logged on to a network listed in the Site
Boundary list for the Site it wants to join. Another facet of
this group would be VPN clients.

The automatic uninstall “feature”-
The nature of the SMS client is to immediately de-install
itself if it 1) is logged on to a network that is not defined
in the boundary of it’s Installed site. 2) and can
still contact it’s Installed Site’s CAP. Also, a client will
de-install itself after 60 days if it 1) is logged on to a
network that is not defined in the boundary of it’s Installed
site. 2) and can not contact it’s Installed
Site’s CAP. 

Travel Mode – Travel Mode is built into the architecture of the
SMS client. If you go to the General Tab of the SMS client
applet you will see a check box to turn Travel Mode on or off.
Travel Mode alone is not a big help. Unfortunately,
simply using this check box causes dialog boxes to appear to
users as they logon at a new SMS sites. The dialogs basically
asks users if they want to be assigned to the new site, if not
do they want to continue being assigned to the old site. In my
opinion this is unacceptable. What support staff in their
right mind would rely on a user to answer properly to such a
question? Inadequate as it may be, the Travel Mode capability
left room form future improvements.

Enter Clitravl.exe. This gem allows
for the customization of Travel Mode, including turning off
those dialog boxes. This tool is located in the SMS 2.0
Support Tools and can be found on the SP2 CD or at the
Microsoft SMS Home Page. 

Run Clitravl.exe at a command line from a
client. Here is the syntax: clitravl.exe /Travel=On
/Travel=Off /Prompt=On /Prompt=Off. To find the current status
of Travel Mode; run Clitravel.exe with no switches.

Site4c.exe (catchy huh?) is used to
force a client to report to a specific site. There is
virtually no Microsoft documentation regarding this tool.

I’ve seen it mentioned in Q281107 but there are no
instructions on it’s use, I’ve never even heard anything from
the field on it. It’s very valuable to my organization. This
tool adds the Force Site value to
hklmsoftwareMssmsclientssites then populates it according
to the syntax used. One thing the tool is missing is the
ability to remove a Site from the Site List, this would be its
installed site. Site List is a value in the same registry key.
What occurs is, the Site you are forcing it to is added to the
current installed site giving you 2 installed sites. I use an
SMS Installer script that clears the Site List value then call
Site4c with the appropriate switches. Email me if you would
like the script.

Syntax is as follows:
Site4c.exe 

/D Site Name removes this Site from
the Forced Sites list

/D* Removes all Sites from the Forced Sites
list

Site Name adds this Site to the
Forced Sites list

Prior to Site4c.exe, to change the installed
site of a client (the site it reports to), the existing client
had to be removed. While the machine was logged on to the LAN
at the new site the client had to be installed. With this tool
an admin can install a client at one SMS Site then force it to
report to another site.

The Server Side of Things – Until the
release of hot fix Q281107 last week the SMS Primary Site
Server didn’t quite know how to handle data from clients that
were not assigned to their installed site or Traveling
Clients. Traveling clients that sent a discovery records back
to their installed sites would be automatically unassigned
from the sites and their hardware and software inventory data
would be deleted. This caused continual resync requests and
obviously inaccurate data. With a high percentage of traveling
users, this issue caused a “world of hurt” to our SMS
implementation. We’re much happier now.

My “real world” application – the
following outlines my procedure for installing and configuring
the SMS client for travelinghome based users at my
organization.

Using SMS Installer I created a script that
calls SMSMan.exe and waits until it completes. It then calls
Clitravl.exe /travel=on /prompt=off.

Currently, I use Site4c.exe for home based
employees. This user group doesn’t make it to the office where
they need to be assigned very often. If they visit any of our
offices they can install the client, run Site4c and be forced
to their assigned office. The steps I use are  be as
follows.

  1. Install the client, in my case,
    using a script that calls Clitravl.exe /travel=on
    /prompt=off. Wait 10 minutes to be sure the client has
    actually been assigned.

  2. Run a script that calls
    Site4c.exe site name.
  3. Delete the client out of the
    collection I just added it to.

  4. Go to Control Panel, Systems
    Management, from the Sites tab select the Update
    Configuration
    button. Press and hold for a few seconds.
    The current date and time should appear on the right.
    It may take a few seconds and a second or third try. The
    client is contacting the site it’s being forced to.

  5. Run any local
    BDCnetlogonsmsls.bat
    . It will run silently. Wait 5-10
    minutes. Update the collection you are forcing this
    client to join. Then refresh it. It should
    appear.

The client will be forced to report to this
site until you clear the forced sites registry value or
uninstallreinstall the client.

Hopefully after reading this article you
have gained some insight into mobileslow link client support
and maybe have some new ideas that will make your SMS
implementation more effective.

For more information on Clitravl.exe,
Qarticle referenced above or mobile support in general click
these links.

Using Clitravl.exe

Hotfix
Q281107

http://www.microsoft.com/TechNet/sms/moblink1.asp

 

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