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WSUS + BITS Versions + Peer Caching + BranchCache + Windows Editions = HEADACHE! RRS feed

  • Question

  • We have a WSUS server in the main office (Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard).

    We have a branch office with Windows 7 Professional clients and Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard and Enterprise servers, which means these computers are using BITS 4.0 (http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb968799(VS.85).aspx).

    To save on disk space, we prefer not to set up a WSUS downstream replica server in the branch office if we can use BITS 4.0 with BranchCache.

    Researching WSUS and BITS Versions and Peer Caching and BranchCache and Windows Editions has been confusing. Some questions…

    These pages in the BITS section of MSDN all say: “Starting with Windows 7, the BITS 3.0 peer caching model is deprecated. If BITS 4.0 is installed, the BITS 3.0 peer caching model is unavailable.” However, these pages also say: “BITS (4.0) uses the Windows BranchCache for peer caching,” and “Starting with Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) 4.0, the BITS service was extended to allow subnet-level peer caching for downloaded URL data by using Windows BranchCache.”
       http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa362708(v=vs.85).aspx
       http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa964314(v=vs.85).aspx
       http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa964240(v=vs.85).aspx
    And this page says: “(BITS 4.0 New Feature) Peer caching now uses Windows BranchCache. This new peer caching model replaces the model used for BITS version 3.0.”
       http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa363167(VS.85).aspx

    Okay, fine. BITS 3.0 peer caching is unavailable for Win7/2008 R2, but BITS 4.0 “peer caching” does work by using BranchCache. Got it. So, do we understand correctly that the various “peer caching” group policy settings under Computer Configuration – Policies – Administrative Templates – Network – Background Intelligent Transfer Service have no effect at all for BITS 4.0 clients?
    http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa362844(v=vs.85).aspx

    Next, the link at the end of this paragraph says: “Windows BranchCache must be enabled on the client through a group policy or local configuration settings.” Okay, fine. We followed the instructions at the second link to enable BranchCache for our Windows 7 clients. Interestingly, the description in the Turn on BranchCache group policy setting (under Computer Configuration – Policies – Administrative Templates – Network – BranchCache) says: “For this policy setting to take effect, you must install the BranchCache feature on the client computer.” However, it seems that the BranchCache feature is already installed by default (although not enabled) on Windows 7, because there’s no option to add BranchCache in Control Panel – Programs and Features – Turn Windows features on or off, and there’s already a BranchCache service on Windows 7. So, does this statement actually not apply to Windows 7 (and only Windows Server 2008 R2)?
       http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa964314(v=vs.85).aspx
       http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd637820.aspx

    Next, the link below says: “The Windows BranchCache feature is an optional component that must be installed on the server,” and “The server must also enable the Windows BranchCache feature though group policy.” Okay, fine. We followed the instructions at the second link to enable it for our Windows Server 2008 R2 servers. However, we would like one of our servers in the branch office to be the “Hosted Cache” server, and the remaining Win7/2008 R2 computers to just be “clients” that use the Hosted Cache server (for the WSUS updates). So, in this case, does only the Configuring a Web server or a BITS application server to use BranchCache section at this link apply to our Hosted Cache server, meaning no other steps are necessary beyond just installing the BranchCache feature? Or, do we have to go through the Configuring a file server to use BranchCache section?
    Likewise, does the Computer Configuration – Policies - Administrative Templates – Network - Lanman Server - Hash Publication for BranchCache group policy setting apply to us if we’re just looking to use BranchCache for WSUS updates and nothing else?
       http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa964314(v=vs.85).aspx
       http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd637785.aspx

    In doing more research I believe that, for Hosted Cache mode, the BranchCache feature must be installed on both the WSUS server at the main site and on a server at the branch office. Is this correct?

    Next, we want to configure the BranchCache Hosted Cache mode group policy setting. However, this setting says: “This address must match the Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN) of the server specified in the certificate for the BranchCache server's certificate,” and “the certificate root for the BranchCache server's certificate must be in the client computer's trusted root store.” Since our BranchCache clients will only be using BITS for WSUS updates (via HTTP), is it still necessary to install a certificate on the Hosted Cache server? (If Yes, that's too bad, because it really complicates BranchCache deployments, especially when all of the computers are within your Active Directory domain).

    Next, there’s the Configure BranchCache for network files group policy setting. Since this setting uses SMB, we’re assuming this does not apply to BranchCache used by BITS clients, and so we don't need to configure it. Is this correct?

    So, in Summary: We just want to use BITS with BranchCache for the computers in our branch office to access WSUS updates on a local server that’s acting as a BranchCache Hosted Cache server. And we’d prefer not to have to deal with certificates to make this happen, if possible.

    Sorry for the long post, but there’s just no clear, one-stop place that informs us how to configure all of this.

    Oh, and is all of the above completely irrelevant for us since this TechNet page says BranchCache requires the Enterprise Editions of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2? I sure hope not…   :o)
       http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/2342.branchcache-settings-for-windows-server-2008-r2-windows-7-enterprise-and-windows-7-ultimate.aspx

    -Taylorbox

    NOTE: I’ve already read these posts:
       http://www.windowsnetworking.com/articles-tutorials/windows-7/Introduction-BranchCache-Part1.html
       http://www.windowsnetworking.com/articles-tutorials/windows-7/Deploying-Hosted-Mode-BranchCache-Server-Part2.html
       http://www.windowsnetworking.com/articles-tutorials/windows-7/Deploying-Hosted-Mode-BranchCache-Server-Part3.html


    • Edited by Taylorbox Thursday, April 11, 2013 12:51 AM
    Thursday, April 11, 2013 12:49 AM

Answers

  • First, I'm curious as to why you think that a BranchCache server would consume any less disk space than a WSUS replica server?

    Because whereas our WSUS server stores all approved updates long-term, the BranchCache server would only store the updates needed for the branch office's computers, and short-term.

    Hmm.. this is not a benefit of branch-cache, it's merely a manifestation of an improperly maintained WSUS server.

    The WSUS has over 100GB of updates.

    Which is about TEN TIMES what should be held on a well-maintained WSUS server. :-)

    The BranchCache server should use less than 5GB since it would keep only the most recent updates

    Thus, BranchCache would contain about 50% IN CACHE of what a WSUS Replica Server would contain ON DISK.

    This TechNet page says: "BITS uses the following Group Policies to enable and configure the peer caching," but then it says: "BITS 4.0:  The BITS 3.0 Group Policies are deprecated.

    Yeah, I did a double-take first time I saw that too... what it means is that those settings, originally used in BITS 3.0 have been deprecated, and now, with BITS 4.0 and BrancheCache you need to use the BITS 4.0 settings.

    BrancheCache functionality is only available in the Enterprise and Ultimate editions of Windows 7.

    A hosted cache server must be Enterprise or DataCenter editions; the functionality is not available in Standard Edition.

    Evidently for Windows 8 Professional, BranchCache is available for BITS (not SMB), but that's not true for Windows 7 Professional

    This is a manifestation of the change in SKUs availabe in those two products. There is no Windows 8 Ultimate, only Professional and Enterprise, and there's no longer an Enterprise Edition of the Server OS.

    In this case, when Microsoft removed the BITS 3.0 peer caching functionality with BITS 4.0 and replaced it with BranchCache, they effectively required you to use the Enterprise editions of Win7/2008 R2

    Yes. BranchCache is a feature designed for Enterprise-scale organizations with Remote offices. The presumption, and a reasonable one at that, is that such organizations have volume licensing, and with volume licensing, desktops will be installed with Enterprise Edition.

    The requirement of WS2008R2 Enterprise Edition is a bit more onerous, but it's nothing new. Microsoft has always made notable feature distinctions between Standard and Enterprise Editions.

    What's really significant now, though, is that Windows Server 2012 does not have an "Enterprise Edition". There's Standard Edition and Datacenter Edition, and ALL features are in BOTH editions ... so something to consider here if I've not yet convinced you that the simplicity of a replica WSUS server is a better choice than the complexity of implementing BranchCache -- consider deploying WS2012 instead of WS2008R2.


    Lawrence Garvin, M.S., MCITP:EA, MCDBA, MCSA
    SolarWinds Head Geek
    Microsoft MVP - Software Packaging, Deployment & Servicing (2005-2013)
    My MVP Profile: http://mvp.support.microsoft.com/profile/Lawrence.Garvin
    http://www.solarwinds.com/gotmicrosoft
    The views expressed on this post are mine and do not necessarily reflect the views of SolarWinds.

    • Marked as answer by Taylorbox Tuesday, May 28, 2013 12:25 PM
    Wednesday, May 22, 2013 1:50 AM

All replies

  • This really isn't the forum for an in-depth conversation of BranchCache... the Win7/Win2008R2 forums are likely more appropriate. However, I may be able to help a bit.
    To save on disk space, we prefer not to set up a WSUS downstream replica server in the branch office if we can use BITS 4.0 with BranchCache.
    First, I'm curious as to why you think that a BranchCache server would consume any less disk space than a WSUS replica server?
    So, do we understand correctly that the various “peer caching” group policy settings under Computer Configuration – Policies – Administrative Templates – Network – Background Intelligent Transfer Service have no effect at all for BITS 4.0 clients?
    Those settings apply to *ALL* BITS clients, and have absolutely nothing to do with the functionality of BranchCache. The only thing BranchCache does is let the BITS client get the content from a local resource rather than a remote resource, and minimize the number of clients transferring files across the remote connection. How that transfer is throttled or controlled is still relevant, regardless of the source.
    Oh, and is all of the above completely irrelevant for us since this TechNet page says BranchCache requires the Enterprise Editions of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2

    BrancheCache functionality is only available in the Enterprise and Ultimate editions of Windows 7.

    A hosted cache server must be Enterprise or DataCenter editions; the functionality is not available in Standard Edition.


    Lawrence Garvin, M.S., MCITP:EA, MCDBA, MCSA
    SolarWinds Head Geek
    Microsoft MVP - Software Distribution (2005-2013)
    My MVP Profile: http://mvp.support.microsoft.com/profile/Lawrence.Garvin
    The views expressed on this post are mine and do not necessarily reflect the views of SolarWinds.

    Thursday, April 11, 2013 5:14 PM
  • Please see comments below:

    This really isn't the forum for an in-depth conversation of BranchCache... the Win7/Win2008R2 forums are likely more appropriate. However, I may be able to help a bit.

    Understood. We posted in this WSUS forum because we're looking to use BITS with BranchCache for our WSUS updates distribution. TechNet documentation includes the BITS and BranchCache options in the planning of a WSUS deployment (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh852344.aspx).

    First, I'm curious as to why you think that a BranchCache server would consume any less disk space than a WSUS replica server?

    Because whereas our WSUS server stores all approved updates long-term, the BranchCache server would only store the updates needed for the branch office's computers, and short-term. The WSUS has over 100GB of updates. The BranchCache server should use less than 5GB since it would keep only the most recent updates (the disk space used is configurable via group policy).

    Those settings apply to *ALL* BITS clients, and have absolutely nothing to do with the functionality of BranchCache. The only thing BranchCache does is let the BITS client get the content from a local resource rather than a remote resource, and minimize the number of clients transferring files across the remote connection. How that transfer is throttled or controlled is still relevant, regardless of the source

    This TechNet page says: "BITS uses the following Group Policies to enable and configure the peer caching," but then it says: "BITS 4.0:  The BITS 3.0 Group Policies are deprecated. Setting any of these policies will have no effect," and then it lists various policies related to peer caching. So our question was just to confirm that the BITS policies related to peer caching have no effect on BITS 4.0 clients (but of course the other BITS policies still do). http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa362844(v=vs.85).aspx

    BrancheCache functionality is only available in the Enterprise and Ultimate editions of Windows 7.

    A hosted cache server must be Enterprise or DataCenter editions; the functionality is not available in Standard Edition.

    Evidently for Windows 8 Professional, BranchCache is available for BITS (not SMB), but that's not true for Windows 7 Professional: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh831696.aspx. In this case, when Microsoft removed the BITS 3.0 peer caching functionality with BITS 4.0 and replaced it with BranchCache, they effectively required you to use the Enterprise editions of Win7/2008 R2, whereas peer caching was available on ALL editions of Vista/Win2008.

    Is that correct? 

    Thursday, April 11, 2013 7:18 PM
  • First, I'm curious as to why you think that a BranchCache server would consume any less disk space than a WSUS replica server?

    Because whereas our WSUS server stores all approved updates long-term, the BranchCache server would only store the updates needed for the branch office's computers, and short-term.

    Hmm.. this is not a benefit of branch-cache, it's merely a manifestation of an improperly maintained WSUS server.

    The WSUS has over 100GB of updates.

    Which is about TEN TIMES what should be held on a well-maintained WSUS server. :-)

    The BranchCache server should use less than 5GB since it would keep only the most recent updates

    Thus, BranchCache would contain about 50% IN CACHE of what a WSUS Replica Server would contain ON DISK.

    This TechNet page says: "BITS uses the following Group Policies to enable and configure the peer caching," but then it says: "BITS 4.0:  The BITS 3.0 Group Policies are deprecated.

    Yeah, I did a double-take first time I saw that too... what it means is that those settings, originally used in BITS 3.0 have been deprecated, and now, with BITS 4.0 and BrancheCache you need to use the BITS 4.0 settings.

    BrancheCache functionality is only available in the Enterprise and Ultimate editions of Windows 7.

    A hosted cache server must be Enterprise or DataCenter editions; the functionality is not available in Standard Edition.

    Evidently for Windows 8 Professional, BranchCache is available for BITS (not SMB), but that's not true for Windows 7 Professional

    This is a manifestation of the change in SKUs availabe in those two products. There is no Windows 8 Ultimate, only Professional and Enterprise, and there's no longer an Enterprise Edition of the Server OS.

    In this case, when Microsoft removed the BITS 3.0 peer caching functionality with BITS 4.0 and replaced it with BranchCache, they effectively required you to use the Enterprise editions of Win7/2008 R2

    Yes. BranchCache is a feature designed for Enterprise-scale organizations with Remote offices. The presumption, and a reasonable one at that, is that such organizations have volume licensing, and with volume licensing, desktops will be installed with Enterprise Edition.

    The requirement of WS2008R2 Enterprise Edition is a bit more onerous, but it's nothing new. Microsoft has always made notable feature distinctions between Standard and Enterprise Editions.

    What's really significant now, though, is that Windows Server 2012 does not have an "Enterprise Edition". There's Standard Edition and Datacenter Edition, and ALL features are in BOTH editions ... so something to consider here if I've not yet convinced you that the simplicity of a replica WSUS server is a better choice than the complexity of implementing BranchCache -- consider deploying WS2012 instead of WS2008R2.


    Lawrence Garvin, M.S., MCITP:EA, MCDBA, MCSA
    SolarWinds Head Geek
    Microsoft MVP - Software Packaging, Deployment & Servicing (2005-2013)
    My MVP Profile: http://mvp.support.microsoft.com/profile/Lawrence.Garvin
    http://www.solarwinds.com/gotmicrosoft
    The views expressed on this post are mine and do not necessarily reflect the views of SolarWinds.

    • Marked as answer by Taylorbox Tuesday, May 28, 2013 12:25 PM
    Wednesday, May 22, 2013 1:50 AM
  • All of your questions are answered in our BranchCache FAQ, MS havent done a good job explaining this great technology. You find the FAQ here: http://2pintsoftware.com/2psfaqs/

    Now to your questions:

    1. BranchCache via BITS (The one you are after) is in all Pro SKU's.

    2. BranchCache is installed by default, just needs GPO to instruct it. (Dont forget FW)

    3. All servers which you get content on needs the BranchCache component.

    4. Some GPO settings are incorrect, this is also on our site.

    Hope this helps you and other,

    //Andreas

    • Proposed as answer by Dzy Wednesday, October 19, 2016 2:11 PM
    Tuesday, October 28, 2014 10:10 AM