Can Altiris agents communicate over "RF"?

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Article ID: 180379

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Products

Management Platform (Formerly known as Notification Server)

Issue/Introduction

 

Resolution

Question
Can Altiris agents communicate over "RF"?  Like incar police systems?  Is it all dependant on http port capabilities?  

Answer
In general, Notification Server will operate over satellite links. There are, however, many variations. Some examples are given below. Notification Server is designed for intermittent and/or slow links. The communication protocol which Notification Server was originally designed on is HTTP, which works well in this environment. As an example, GB+ files have been transmitted over 28.8 Kbps links. It must be noted that this can take weeks per file, and, if the connection is very intermittent, it may never finish with something of this size. So remember there are limits but they are usually quite high.

Scenario 1: Wide Area Satellite Network using CISCO VPN technology (IPSEC using a GRE tunnel)

The number of sites and counts of computers at each site are not known for this scenario and would have some impact in the design, but should not effect overall capability. Speed ranges for this satellite solution from TELENOR are 9.6 Kbps up to 4 Mbps for "always-on" IP-based services. This is not, however, a guarantee that Notification Server will work over all of these speeds. Testing is always recommended.

This type of WAN link does not stop Notification Server Agent software Multicasting from occurring. A Package Server on one side of the link will multicast to clients on the other side of the WAN link. It is essential that IPSEC with GRE is used over the WAN, and that PIM (Protocol Independent Multicasting) is turned on, in sparse mode. This specific scenario has been tested and proven successful in a CISCO test environment.

Both multicast and unicast (standard Notification Server agent Software Delivery package pull method) operated successfully. The Package Sizes and frequency which could be accommodated via this system would need to be tested to find the limits. But there is high confidence that packages between 0 and 20 MB would work without issues. Packages from greater than 20 MB to 200 MB are likely to also work, but the amount of bandwidth available and the quality of the connection could affect them. Larger packages are also possible, but would generally need to be tested before any recommendations could be made. The frequency of the packages would depend on the bandwidth available and also the quality, but if there is plenty of both then the number of packages should be almost unlimited. 

Scenario 2: Poor connection speed with a high latency link

In this scenario, the connection speed was quite poor, and the link had high latency. The speed ranged from 14.4 to 28.8 Kbps max. Latency sometimes reached several seconds (not milliseconds), and the network was generally saturated with traffic. There were hundreds of sites in this installation with less than 20 computers at almost all sites. Packages were rarely delivered via the Sat link. Any delivered were very small (less than 1 MB). The Notification Server, Carbon Copy Solution, and InvSoln agents and packages were pre-staged on the computers via a local Deployment Solution server, which traveled from site to site.

The communication between the Notification Server agent and the Notification Server across the Sat link was, therefore, limited to Client configuration requests (and the interval was increased to reduce the bandwidth usage), Carbon Copy sessions, and the agents sending Basic Inventory and Win32 inventory NSEs to the server. Enabling of the Notification Server agent compression capability on all sizes of files transmitted to the server over 2 KB would be recommended to further reduce traffic.

The system functioned reliably but slowly. The primary issue was that the package servers received very large configuration files with the version of Notification Server originally deployed because all locations of the package were transmitted to each Package Server, and this particular installation had hundreds of Package Servers.

Current versions of Notification Server have remedied this issue with the Site and Subnet options for Package Servers. Also the recent introduction of multicasting would also reduce or eliminate the need for package servers in this environment also. Alternatives: Centrally configure the machines with all of the agents and packages and then ship to locations. Because of the low bandwidth careful evaluation of the files needed on the agents needs to be done before they are pre-staged so that remedial processes to get needed large files transferred to the agents are not necessary.