Deciding the right Content Distribution strategy in Configuration Manager 2012

Today's Blog comes from our team member - Anil Malekani , what goes in strategizing the content distribution in Configuration Manager 2012.


Deciding on the right Content Distribution strategy is key to effective deployment for an organization, using Configuration Manager 2012. With new offices opening, resources migrating from one office to another and to client sites it may become a challenging task to ensure the content reaches to the end user device as expected. Configuration Manger offers many choices to select from, depending on the scenario.

1. Preferred and Fallback Distribution Point running on Server or Workstation

a. Pull Distribution Points

b. Content pre-staging

c. Bandwidth Throttling and Scheduling

2. Branch Cache

3. Cloud Distribution Point on Windows Azure

Preferred and Fallback DPs are widely used because of the simplicity to setup and traditional approach with previous versions of Configuration Manager and Operating Systems. Let us discuss some of the best practices for Content Distribution planning.

Prefer BranchCache over Distribution Point: Planning for the Preferred and Fallback Distribution Points and Distribution Point groups is usually the first thing to start with, during the content distribution planning. However, it is better to first look at possibilities of reducing on the number of Distribution Points and identify locations where BranchCache can be used instead. This will help to minimize on the required infrastructure. Make sure you meet all the prerequisites for BranchCache feature.

Use Cloud based Distribution Points for Internet based clients: The Internet based site systems are often heavy investments and increase the complexity in the design of Configuration Manager Infrastructure. Since the internet facing clients are often in different subnets and regions they cannot leverage Branch cache functionality and they all directly pull content from the Internet facing DP. For large size deployments it impacts the network. With Configuration Manager 2012 SP1, Cloud Based Distribution Points can add great benefit for organizations who are spread across different geographies. Based on the presence of internet based clients your organization can place a distribution point in the nearest Microsoft managed Azure datacenters.

While considering Cloud based Distribution Points, it is very important to consider costs and how you can control on the cost. Review this article for some of the pointers.

Use Distribution Point scheduling, Bandwidth throttling and Plan your deployments: Placing a local Distribution Point for a remote locations is a cost-effective solution, where Branch Cache is not an option. Configuration Manager allows you to configure schedule and throttling settings for remote Distribution Points, and this helps to minimally impact network where there is limited bandwidth available and multiple application depending on it during business hours.

For a remote location where the number of clients is low and network bandwidth is not as big challenge, you can consider using bandwidth throttling on clients to limit network usage during business hours and let them download content over the WAN.

For scenarios where you are using scheduling and bandwidth throttling, it is important to plan your deployments ahead in time. Some of the customers even consider caching the content in advance and initiate installation at the planned time. This minimizes the chances of failure. You can trick Configuration Manager by running a normal command (that does nothing) ahead of schedule and use the same package which will be used later for actual installation of the program. This will ensure that the package is already present in cache before the deadline is reached.

Use Priority based Distribution point groups: even though Configuration Manger 2012 R2 is coming with automatic priority selection for Distribution Points, you can do even better job by using Priority base DP groups. While doing large scale deployments you can plan your deployments in phases and prioritize which locations are first to receive the content over others. It is easy to distribute and monitor content distribution using this approach.

If you have questions or doubts then feel free to use the comments section and we will try to answer in the shortest time possible.

Happy Learning !