ReadTip: Enhanced Branch Office Productivity and WAN Bandwidth Savings with Microsoft BranchCache

For those who are in the decision making process of using BranchCache, I strongly recommend to read the Enhanced Branch Office Productivity and WAN Bandwidth Savings with Microsoft BranchCache Report from Edison.

Microsoft commissioned the Edison Group to create and run a series of tests designed to provide quantified data to illustrate the effects of the file transfer acceleration provided by using Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 with BranchCache enabled. The result of the testing shows that file downloads were, on average, 69 percent faster with Windows 7 with BranchCache than for Windows XP and 66 percent faster than for Windows Vista. Bandwidth utilization averaged 58 percent less for Windows 7 with BranchCache versus Windows XP and 53 percent less than Windows Vista. This document explains the tests and presents the test results.

  • Common Internet File System (CIFS) and SMB file downloads for a PowerPoint® presentation were as much as 69 percent faster while utilizing an average of up to 59 percent less bandwidth than with Windows Vista or Windows XP.
  • User download times with the HTTP protocol were 63 percent faster than with Windows Vista and Windows XP, while requiring 49 percent less wide area network bandwidth.
  • Downloading an application or patch by using Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) and the BITS protocol was 76 to 79 percent faster and utilized 53 to 58 percent less bandwidth.
  • When transferring a file from server running Microsoft Office SharePoint® Server 2007 (MOSS 2007), client computers running Windows 7 with BranchCache were 65 to 68 percent faster and utilized 66 percent less bandwidth than Windows XP or Windows Vista.
  • Edison testing shows that BranchCache greatly accelerates App-V performance. It is 24 to 34 percent faster and utilizes 33 to 37 percent less bandwidth than using only App-V. These savings in time and bandwidth are especially important to those people responsible for application deployments and updates.

Download the entire document from here

Enable Wireless (Wi-Fi) in Windows Server 2008 (R2)

I was just about to drop a post on how to enable Wi-Fi in Server 2008 (R2) as I just bumped into this when installing a Server 2008 R2 on a HP 8730p notebook and found out that by default this Service isn’t enabled, which makes sense as usually Servers don’t use a Wireless connection.

But why rewrite something others did already. Read more about enabling Wi-Fi on Server 2008(R2) here.

Office 2010 KMS Server Requirements

Although I have been working with Office 2010 for a while, I wasn’t aware of the KMS Server specific requirements until today when we were asked to load the Office 2010 KMS key into one of our customers KMS servers.

A dedicated server is not needed to run KMS for Office 2010. A KMS host is a lightweight service, and you can co-host an Office 2010 and Windows KMS host. However, only Windows Server 2003, volume editions of Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008 R2 are supported as Office 2010 KMS hosts

…..hmmm, must be a typo, they probably forgot to list Windows Server 2008……but no, this isn’t a typo it’s real, Windows Server 2008 is not a supported platform to host the KMS Server for Office 2010 activations and yes Windows Server 2003 is supported. Did they just forgot that in between Server 2003 and Server 2008 R2 they had shipped Server 2008? No they didn’t, see the comment below posted on the Office 2010 activation forum by Ted Way who works on the Office Team.

In short, WS 2008 and WS 2008 R2 have different code bases.  It would take a substantial amount of work and require a service pack, not a patch.  A few common questions:

- Why is WS 2003 supported but not WS 2008?  WS 2003 did not have the KMS service, so it was easier to add the KMS service.

- Why can WS 2008 R2 and W7 be activated just by patching WS 2008?  All this patch contains are license files that recognize the new KMS host key to activate WS 2008 R2 and W7.  No change to the KMS service was required.  The KMS service that shipped in WS 2008 does not meet the requirements that Office has.

- What are the alternatives?  Use a WS 2003, WS 2008 R2, or W7 box as your Office KMS host.  They can also be on DNS, and Office will try all the KMS hosts it finds on DNS until one succeeds.  If you must use WS 2008, then you can run a WS 2003, WS 2008 R2, or W7 VM on the WS 2008 machine.

You’re frustrated, and rightly so.  I’m on the Office team, and believe me, if there was an easy way to get WS 2008 to work as an Office KMS host, I would be jumping on it.  It does not make sense for us from a business perspective to have any hindrance in Office deployment, so we would not arbitrarily impose this burden on you, however arbitrary it seems.

Office and Windows did work very closely together during the O14 cycle, and that’s why W7 and WS 2008 R2 support Office.  However, WS 2008 had already shipped, which meant any changes would have to be done post-RTM.

Obviously this is not the answer you want to hear, and my goal is not to make you happy in this response, but I hope you at least have a better understanding of why things are the way they are.

More about Office 2010 Volume Activation:

Office 2010 Volume Activation
Volume Activation for Office 2010
Frequently asked questions: Volume activation of Office 2010
Volume activation quick start guide for Office 2010

Choosing the right Server Edition for your BranchCache deployment

Windows Server 2008 R2 is available in multiple editions. If you’re planning to deploy BranchCache it’s important to consider installing the right server edition as there is a difference in the provided functionality between the different server editions.

Windows Server 2008 R2 BranchCache Features
image 
Source: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/en/us/r2-differentiated-features.aspx

BranchCache Content Server
Source repository, located at the main office, for the content that is accessed by client computers in branch offices. Content may reside on either a file server with the BranchCache for Network Files role service of the File Services server role installed, or on a Web server or BITS-based application server with the BranchCache feature installed. Content servers transmit content to branch offices using the BranchCache-compatible protocols.

BranchCache Hosted Server
When BranchCache is deployed in hosted cache mode, hosted cache servers in branch offices cache content and provide the content on request to client computers in the same branch office. In this mode, client computers perform the initial download of content from content servers at the main office, and hosted cache servers later download the content from the clients.

Source: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee307962(WS.10).aspx#BKMK_2

So when you plan to use BranCache in Hosted Cache Mode you will need to place the server editions as shown in the illustration below

image

Windows Server 2008-R2 Multilanguage Packs

When I recently browsed through the Windows Download Center I noticed that there is a download for “Windows Server 2008 R2 Multilingual User Interface Language Packs”. Having worked with Multilanguage Packs for the Windows Client operating system since these were introduced with Windows 2000, I was astonished to see these in the public download center, because for Windows Clients you must have a Software Assurance or other Enterprise Agreement with Microsoft to use Multilanguage Packs. So why are these made available for free for the Server operating system?

Well after a long journey through the Microsoft Volume Licensing portal, I finally found an explanation within the Microsoft Product List document.

I found the following 2 statements:

In the case of most server products (e.g., Windows Server), the MUI is included with the base product. Customers licensing those products may use the MUI subject to the use rights for those products. 

Licenses for all editions of Windows Server 2008 include the rights to the Multi-language User Interface (MUI). Customers who downgrade to earlier editions also have the right to use MUI.

Although the above mentioned document contains information for Software that is licensed through Microsoft Volume Licensing programs, I “assume” that this also applies to Server 2008(R2) systems that have an OEM license, otherwise I wouldn’t understand why Microsoft would make available this download for the public.

Related topics:

Windows Multilanguage Packs explained

Windows MUI Knowledge Center

Windows Server 2008 Multilingual User Interface Language Packs

Hyper-V Language Pack Update for Windows Server 2008 x64 Edition (KB951636)

Windows Server 2008 R2 Documentation & Resources

Learn more about Windows Server 2008 R2. All documents can be downloaded from here