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.
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.