BranchCache in Microsoft Windows

Microsoft Windows 7 Beta and Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 Beta comes with this amazing feature called BranchCache.

What is BranchCache?

Normally in a head office and branch office scenario the branch offices are connected to the head office using a slow WAN (Wide Area Network) connection. This connection is used for communication, file transfer, replication of servers etc. between the sites. Since these WAN links are slow (the more it is faster the more expensive it is) it takes a long time for the users to access network resources and other network related services from the head office. When the users experience the decrease in performance between the sites the pressure builds up for IT professionals like you and me. It’s always the case, when the link is slow your phone or extension doesn’t stop ringing.

So considering these issues we IT geeks in the organizations try to figure out on how to reduce the bandwidth utilization. As a solution for this issue once again Microsoft comes to the rescue this time with a new feature called BranchCache. Using a Windows 7 client when you connect to a head office server which is running Windows Server 2008 R2 and downloads some sort of a file or any content (HTTP, HTTPS or SMB protocols traffic) to the client machine for the first time and then a cache copy of the same is also stored somewhere in the branch office so the next time another client requests the same content form the head office the request will be redirected to the cached copy stored in the branch office and the content will be downloaded to the client from the branch office and not through the busy and slow wan link which connects to the head office.

 There are 2 types of BranchCache available

1)      The Distributed Cache Model

2)      The Hosted Cache Model

The distributed model is when there are no servers present in the branch office each and every individual client maintains a cache of the files and contents it has retrieved from the head office.

The hosted model is that there will be a server which will store all the cached contents from the head office. This happens as soon as the client downloads the content it will notify and send the cached copy to the server hence and subsequent client request for the same content will be directed to the server which stores the cached copy locally.

BranchCache is only supported by Windows Server 2008 R2 (server end) and Windows 7 (client end), both these operating systems are in its beta stage as of today. The steps to enable BranchCache on server and the client will follow on another post soonJ.         

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