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Microsoft

Imagine a world where you no longer have to worry about that upcoming huge deployment of Microsoft content that could impact the bandwidth at a site where your company has 40 employees, all using the same T1 connection. A world where that spike in traffic is handled seamlessly, without requiring you to closely monitor that deployment and make sure it doesn’t end up with an escalation.

Our team is hard at work building solutions that we hope will allow this vision to become the reality. We want to free you up to deal with business decisions regarding your deployments, rather than forcing you to closely monitor and manage deployments in sites with limited bandwidth to avoid adverse bandwidth impact.

Delivery Optimization's peer-to-peer capabilities are used by IT pros around the globe today to help offset some of the bandwidth burden caused by downloads of Microsoft content such as Windows Updates, Microsoft Store apps, Office ProPlus updates and more from the cloud. To learn more, see Delivery Optimization: Scenarios and configuration options.

Delivery Optimization enables organizations to leverage their devices as local sources for distribution, thus increasing the local capacity available, even in remote sites, via underutilized, but fast local LAN networks. Delivery Optimization pulls from multiple sources in parallel, which means each device contributes a small portion of content, with no impact on the device itself (we want the device owner to be able to use the device for their day-to-day work!). Relying on such a distributed system also requires a seamless fallback to the original source in cases where peers on the local network cannot provide the content (or cannot provide it fast enough). This methodology ensures downloads are always completed reliably and efficiently for millions of devices daily.

With all the benefits of Delivery Optimization peer-to-peer, we talk with customers who experience challenges using peer-to-peer:

  • Customers who have sites with low bandwidth need a better overall bandwidth reduction guarantee.
  • Customers in the education sector have sites with too few devices or many devices that operate primarily on battery power.
  • Some customers cannot push policies to devices on their network (e.g. ISPs, universities
    with public Wi-Fi), but still want to reduce the bandwidth impact of deploying updates.
  • Some customers (e.g. those organizations using an all-VPN Wi-Fi network) cannot use peer-to-peer, period.

Introducing Microsoft Connected Cache

With the above scenarios in mind, our team sought to create a dedicated cache solution that would complement Delivery Optimization’s distributed peer-to-peer system and provide the bandwidth relief that many of you require. A pre-release version of this new product was made available in Configuration Manager, version 1906 and has already been widely adopted. In fact, as I’m writing this blog, we have nearly 200,000 devices pulling updates from a cache server installed on their distribution point.

We intentionally designed our cache server solution in a way that requires no hands-on management to select packages to store and serve to devices—a "configure once and forget it" solution that seamlessly and transparently caches the content your devices on your network need.

Our Configuration Manager friends have made it especially easy for you to install Microsoft Connected Cache on new and existing distribution points, allowing you to leverage your existing infrastructure to cache content that you pull from the cloud side by side with the content that you manage directly in Configuration Manager. Meanwhile, our team has been hard at work putting together a new version of this product that we are excited to share with you today.

Microsoft Connected Cache managed in Microsoft Azure is our new solution to complement peer-to-peer distribution and offers you the relief you are looking for where large bandwidth spikes should no longer have an impact on your network. Delivery Optimization, in conjunction with the Connected Cache, installed on Windows Server or Linux, can seamlessly offload your traffic to local sources, caching content efficiently at the byte range level with only what your devices need.

The diagram below illustrates how Microsoft Connected Cache managed in Azure works.

connected-cache.png

We are using Azure for deployment, provisioning, and management of your Connected Cache instances, but there will be no content flowing through Azure. All content will flow from Microsoft content servers through your on-premises Connected Cache server to the devices in your network (instead of pulling directly from the cloud).

How can I get Microsoft Connected Cache?

Currently, Microsoft Connected Cache is managed via the Azure Portal and will be available to any customer with a Microsoft 365 E3, Windows E3, EMS E3, Office E3 or Office 365 A3 (Education)  subscription. Through the Azure Portal, you will be able deploy and provision a new instance of Connected Cache to your on-premises server and view data about the hit/miss ratio and overall usage.  

Today, as part of Microsoft Ignite 2019, we are announcing that we are looking for customers who are interested in joining the private preview for this new version of the Connected Cache managed in Azure. In this initial preview phase, the installation process will require multiple manual steps. However, once installed, such a server can handle traffic for nearly ten thousand Windows 10 devices that would otherwise pull updates from the cloud (and/or peers).

If you are interested and willing to brave some manual steps and possibly receive frequent updates, contact us and share your interest by filling out this form https://aka.ms/MSConnectedCacheSignup.  You will receive more information on how you can try the private preview if you are selected for the program.

We look forward to hearing from you and keep watching for updates in the future on Microsoft Connected Cache.

~ Delivery Optimization Team

21 Comments
Contributor

Good try by Microsoft to reduce the burden of low-bandwidth sites (All most all organization having this issue atleast one of their locations or few desktops/Laptops) . But testing the preview is a challenge :cool:. Let's wait for result from others. 

New Contributor

Is there a minimum OS version on the distribution point where connected cache is activated? In other words, can it be activated on a DP that's hosted on a Windows 10 device or does it need to be on a Server OS and, if so, what version (2012, 2016, 2019)...?

Microsoft

@Karim Slaoui Microsoft Connected Cache on Configuration Manager DP is supported on Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2016, or Windows Server 2019 (Microsoft Connected Cache on Distribution Point Prerequisites and limitations ).

New Contributor

Thanks @AndyRivMSFT (don't know how I missed that part !)

Senior Member

If you set up multiple DOINC's over several sites/locations, does the client detect which one is in its own site (if yes, how?) or honor its download mode settings? If not, is there any other way but separate DO config profiles to point client to a specific DOINC? And is there a way to handle users that roam between the sites/locations?

Thanks!

Microsoft

Configuration Manager uses boundary groups to "stamp" clients with the appropriate Connected Cache server IP.  So when a client roams to another site and the clients evaluate their current network location and are reassigned to the appropriate boundary group for the at site, ConfigMgr sets the value of the Connected Cache server that is associated with the boundary group the device belongs.

 

@WoutVergauwen can you clarify what you mean by "handle users that roam between the sites/locations?"  Is this different from what I have described above?

 

Thanks

Senior Member

Sorry, my question is in the context of an intune-only scenario. So no configmgr. 

Microsoft

Ahh OK.  There will be a new DHCP policy that will be available in the Spring release "Cache Server Hostname Source" that will allow your enterprise to set a DHCP option 235 with the IP address of the Microsoft Connected Cache.  Using this setting in the different sites will ensure that the devices are sent to the Connected Cache you intend for the particular location.

 

Thanks

Senior Member

Cool, thanks!

But now I'm confused about where I should configure DOINC. Do I have to configure all potential DOINC's in the DO config profile and specify the specific one for that scope in a DHCP option or is just specifying the DHCP option sufficient (in which case I don't see the point in the DO config profile setting)?

Microsoft

Good question.  Let me provide some details around "Cache Server Hostname Source" policy is implemented.  

 

You will set this policy to configure one or more Delivery Optimization in Network Cache servers through a custom DHCP Option. One or more values can be added as either fully qualified domain names (FQDN) or IP addresses.  To add multiple values, separate each FQDN or IP address by commas.

 

When DHCP Option ID (1) is set, the client will query DHCP Option ID 235 and use the returned FQDN or IP value as Cache Server Hostname value.  This policy will be overridden when the Cache Server Hostname policy has been set.

 

When DHCP Option ID Force (2) is set, the client will query DHCP Option ID 235 and use the returned FQDN or IP value as Cache Server Hostname value, and will override the Cache Server Hostname policy if it has been set.

 

Thanks

 

Senior Member

Thanks @AndyRivMSFT . But my scenario is not just Intune-only, it's also AAD-only, so I have no GPO's (and a bit strange if I were to import the ADMX to have part of the config there). Or is this something that will get added to the DO config policies in Intune and is just not there yet?

Senior Member

@AndyRivMSFT, I was wondering, if we don,t have any software update packages on DPs and we tell our clients to go to Windows Updates to get the content.

 

When we will use Connected cache, will the 1st client try to get the content for WU, see that it can ask the connected cache to get it for him and once connected cache has obtained it, will all other sccm clients get the update content only from the connected cache server or will they use delivery optimization between peers in the same group ID?

 

Thks

Microsoft

@lalanc01 as soon as any client is configured to pull from Connected Cache it will request and receive content from Connected Cache, and it can also obtain content from peers as well.  The DO client attempts all available sources to maintain a high QoS for the downloads which could mean using the Connected Cache and peers.

 

Thanks

Microsoft

@WoutVergauwen I apologize for missing your comment previously.

 

You are correct that any client policies for DO should be available for Intune as well.  I'll follow up on that.

 

Thanks

 

Senior Member

@AndyRivMSFT thank you for the super quick answer.

 

Is there a way to force clients to only go to the connected cache in order to avoid clients getting content from their peers ( I know it may look weird) so that it doesn't impact some of our I/O intensive user clients?

 

If not, is there a way to evaluate how we could optimize our Connected cache server and/or other settings (like only use certain type of machines or in specific conditions) to prioritize using connected cache server over peers.Maybe via GPO settings?

 

Our main goal is to avoid using sccm SU packages while trying to have has much client get the update data from the connected cache server (like they would do with a regular DP), instead of them going to the internet.

 

Thks again.

New Contributor

@AndyRivMSFT - is Microsoft connected cache in preview yet? Looking to evaluate it for use.

New Contributor

@Schebby it is GA: "Starting in version 1910, this feature is now called Microsoft Connected Cache. It was previously known as Delivery Optimization In-Network Cache (DOINC)."
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/configmgr/core/plan-design/hierarchy/microsoft-connected-cache

Microsoft

@Schebby and @Karim Slaoui As per the license terms within Microsoft Endpoint Manager Configuration Manager, Microsoft Connected Cache is a pre-release feature within ConfigMgr. It has not been "GA'd".  It has been been though significant testing internally and by customers.

New Contributor

@AndyRivMSFT, Thanks for clearing that.  I was about to edit my post as I was reading the above link.  It says further down in the article that "The Connected Cache server is an application installed on Windows Server. This application is still in development"
Apologies on the misinformation... 

New Contributor

@Karim Slaoui @AndyRivMSFT - apologies! I also didn’t include enough info. I’m looking for Microsoft Connected Cache on Azure. As in, I want to go Intune only but have MCC caches on-prem without having to stand up SCCM.

Microsoft

@Schebby  We're still working with our Phase 1 private preview customers and collecting data.  We'll let folks who had registered interest know when we start onboarding Phase 2 customers.

 

We closed the registration form, but if you’re still interested in participating in the private preview when Phase 2 opens up, please reach out to msconnectedcache@microsoft.com.

 

Thanks!