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Does the increasing cost of wide area network (WAN) access restrict you from providing your branch offices with the data center services they need? Learn how Microsoft IT uses the BranchCache™ feature available in the Windows® 7 operating system and the Windows Server® 2008 R2 operating system to improve performance and availability to branch offices. Services at the branch office level include file and print management, offline folder redirection, operating system and application distribution, and patch management. By implementing BranchCache, Microsoft IT significantly improved service availability while maintaining network traffic encryption including HTTPS and IPsec and reducing WAN usage and server demand. Using BranchCache, Microsoft IT expects to save money while increasing branch user productivity.

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 Technical Case Study, 487 KB, Microsoft Word

BranchCache Deployments at Microsoft

As the earliest adopter and tester of Microsoft technology, Microsoft IT was working with BranchCache as early as Windows 7 Beta. Microsoft IT was especially interested in using BranchCache in branch offices that were known to have slow links to the main corporate data center in hopes of improving local access time while simultaneously reducing WAN bandwidth demand.

The pilot deployments discussed in this document occurred during the Windows Server 2008 R2/Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC) timeframe. Microsoft IT implemented BranchCache pilots to test the technology using three different systems and protocols:

  • Testing access to internal file shares via SMB
  • Testing access to an internal Microsoft Office SharePoint® Server 2007 site via HTTP
  • Testing integration with System Center Configuration Manager and accessing advertised downloads via BITS

In total, BranchCache was deployed to 24 branch offices where it was tested against internal file shares using SMB, and against a SharePoint Server 2007 SP2 site accessed via HTTP. From these 24 sites, five North American branch offices were also used for System Center Configuration Manager 2007 SP2 (BITS) validation.

Figure 3. Locations and numbers of branch offices used for BranchCache pilots

Figure 3. Locations and numbers of branch offices used for BranchCache pilots

The remainder of this section provides details about these pilot deployments.

Note: The percentage bandwidth savings discussed in these results measure the amount of WAN bandwidth saved for cached files; they are not the percentage reduction of total branch office WAN use. Overall, WAN bandwidth savings will be measured as Microsoft IT upgrades the majority of its back-end servers to Windows Server 2008 R2.