Microsoft introduced BranchCache in Windows Server 2008 R2. The idea was that branch offices would only need to download data from the main office once. Then it would be cached at that branch. Subsequent requests for the same data would then be routed to the cached data once it was determined that the data was not stale. Over the next few tips, I’ll be forwarding information on some of the improvements made to BranchCache in Windows Server 2012 which focus on new tools and a simplified deployment model.
- BranchCache no longer requires office-by-office configuration. Deployment is streamlined because there is no requirement for a separate Group Policy object (GPO) for each location. Only a single GPO that contains a small group of settings is required to deploy BranchCache in any size organization, from a small business to a large enterprise.
- Client computer configuration is automatic. Clients can be configured through Group Policy as distributed cache–mode clients by default; however, they search for a hosted cache server, and if one is discovered, clients automatically self-configure as hosted cache-mode clients.
- Cache data is kept encrypted, and hosted cache servers do not require server certificates. BranchCache security provides improved data encryption and other technologies, providing data security without requiring a public key infrastructure or additional drive encryption.
- BranchCache provides tools to manipulate data and preload the content at remote locations. Now, you can push content to branch offices so that it is immediately available when the first user requests it. This allows you to distribute content during periods of low WAN usage.
- BranchCache is deeply integrated with the Windows file server. BranchCache uses Windows file server’s state-of-the-art technology to divide files into small pieces and eliminate duplicates. This greatly increases the chance of finding duplicate pieces in independent files, resulting in greater bandwidth savings. BranchCache is also more tolerant of small changes in large files.