One of the gazillion new and improved features of the soon to be released Windows Server 2008 is that we now have the ability to perform enhanced multicasting when deploying OS images right out of the box. The new Windows Deployment Services (WDS) will now support an enhanced multicast feature which will allow you to multicast out your Windows OS's from Windows Server 2008. This is not 'new' news as I believe we have documented that this will be a feature for quite some time, but one that I feel is overlooked given all of the other many features of the new product.
There will be two types of multicast supported:
- Scheduled-Cast: This is your traditional multicast scenario where you can specify a time or certain number of clients requesting an image before a session begins for all at the same time. You can also start the session manually once all clients are in the 'waiting' state and ready to go.
- Auto-Cast: As soon as an allowed client requests an image, a multicast transmission begins. Other clients can then join this same session in progress and can 'make up' what they missed earlier by dropping back to a unicast session at the end. To me, this is a pretty cool feature as it allows one to set up an 'always on' multicast session to your environment that can be invoked at any time and by multiple different folks pulling down the same image. This gives you maximum flexibility and efficient use of bandwidth. Below is a screen shot from my lab that show two machines on the same multicast session - note the different session times and % complete:
I know that this has been a huge ask from my HED and K12 customers responsible for installing entire labs of machines on a regular basis. Now we have a solution 'in-the-box' with W08 to address this. Now all that is left to do is to integrate this multicast functionality with SCCM's OS deployment features - don't worry, this is already being worked on!!!