Understanding Collections

Collections are sets of resources that are grouped together because they satisfy one or more rules. You can use collections to group resources in a logical order instead of the physical order of groups such as sites. Collections also provide a manageable view into the SMS site database by partitioning the data into useful categories. Collections gather resources according to user-defined criteria.

You define and set membership rules for each collection. Membership rules are the criteria by which SMS determines whether a resource is a member of a particular collection. A membership rule is based on one of the following:

SMS query You can create membership rules based on a query (query rules). The resources returned from the query become members of the collection.

Specific resource or group You can create membership rules that target individual resources, such as a list of users, user groups, or SMS clients (direct rules). The targeted resources become permanent members of the collection. By targeting individual resources, you can gather a diverse group of resources.


  • When you create a collection based on a query, SMS imports the query statement and stores it along with the other information about the collection. If you subsequently modify the query, the collection is not automatically updated. To update the collection, you must re-import the modified query statement.

After you set the membership rules for a collection, you can use the collection as a target for software distribution and other management tasks. A resource can be a member of as many collections as you think are appropriate. You can define the rules for collections at any time. You do not need to wait until resources are discovered.

Updating collection membership

Collections are dynamic. SMS periodically evaluates resources against the membership rules. When SMS discovers resources, it adds those resources to any collection with membership rules that match the resources. If you modify the membership rules of a collection, the effect on the membership list is reflected the next time the collection is evaluated. You can schedule collection evaluations for a later time, or to recur at a specific interval. You also can update the list of resources on demand.


  • Updating a collection membership list does not automatically refresh the view of the collection in the details pane of the SMS Administrator console. Instead, an hourglass appears next to the name of the collection in the console tree as a reminder to refresh the view. To refresh the view of an updated collection, select the collection and press F5.

When hardware and software configurations on individual computers change, SMS removes those computers from collections or adds new computers to collections according to the membership rules of the collections. By keeping collections current, SMS ensures that your software distributions always go to all the computers that meet your collection criteria, including those computers that were added to the network after you created the collection. In a similar manner, if a computer no longer meets the criteria for a collection, then it no longer receives software targeted to that collection. For example, if a computer is moved to a different group or no longer has the minimum free disk space specified in the collection criteria, it might be removed from the collection.

Understanding collection changes in SMS 2003

Predefined collections remain relatively unchanged in SMS 2003 from SMS 2.0. However, the underlying SMS 2003 database structure has been updated to accommodate new database objects such as Active Directory objects. Some, but not all, predefined collections display Active Directory objects. For example, the All User Groups collection in SMS 2003 contains data obtained only from Windows User Group Discovery to maintain interoperability with SMS 2.0. The collection does not contain Active Directory System Group Discovery or Active Directory User Discovery data.


  • Some predefined collections and queries found in SMS 2.0 are not present in SMS 2003.
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