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Windows Server

Windows Server 2008: Understanding and Deploying BranchCache (part 3)

1/2/2011 9:15:28 AM

Hosted Cache Mode

Hosted Cache mode is still kind of peer-to-peer. However, in this deployment mode, all the content that is cached on each peer is also cached on a central server in the branch office. This hosted cache then becomes the central point of reference for peers to validate locally cached content and then to retrieve that content from the cache. In other words, a Hosted Cache server is kind of a glorified caching proxy server.

Server-Side Configuration

The server-side configuration for a Hosted Cache deployment is exactly the same as a Distributed Cache deployment. However, there is one difference; a Hosted Cache server must be deployed. Use the following steps to complete this task:

1.
Install the BranchCache feature.

2.
Next, execute the following Netsh command:

netsh BranchCache set service mode=HOSTEDSERVER

3.
Install an SSL server authentication certificate where the subject name is set to the FQDN of the Hosted Cache server.

4.
Lastly, configure the Hosted Cache server to use the server authentication certificate. To do that, get the certificate hash from the certificate you just installed, and execute the following command:

netsh HTTP ADD SSLCERT IPPORT=0.0.0.0:443 CERTHASH="cert-hash" APPID={d673f5ee-a714-454d-8de2-492e4c1bd8f8}


Understanding the SSL Certificate

As mentioned before, BranchCache peers do not upload content to the Hosted Cache server. Instead, they advertise the content in their cache, and the Hosted Cache server then downloads the content it needs from the client. The SSL certificate is required because clients “advertise” their content to the Hosted Cache server by doing an HTTP post over TLS.

Client-Side Configuration

Like Distributed Cache mode, there are two methods for configuring Hosted Cache mode. The first method is via Netsh. For example, run a command prompt (Run As Administrator) and execute the following command:

netsh branchcache set service mode=HOSTEDCLIENT LOCATION="FQDN of Hosted Cache Server"

The second method for configuring BranchCache on clients in Hosted Cache mode is GPO. Use the following steps to complete this task:
1.
Enable the Turn On BranchCache GPO setting (Computer Configuration\Policies\Administrative Templates\Network\BranchCache).

2.
Enable the Set BranchCache Hosted Cache Mode GPO setting (Computer Configuration\Policies\Administrative Templates\Network\BranchCache).

3.
Enable and configure the BranchCache for Network Files GPO setting (Computer Configuration\Policies\Administrative Templates\Network\BranchCache). Here, the latency value that determines when the network files aspect of BranchCache will kick in must be specified. The default is 80.

Lastly, once the BranchCache GPO settings have been configured, the next step is to configure Windows Firewall to allow incoming HTTP:

  • Allow TCP HTTP - 80 Inbound (from all other BranchCache clients—at the branch office).

Troubleshooting (Is BranchCache Doing Something?)

Unfortunately, BranchCache is kind of a black box. When it’s working, users shouldn’t notice anything. On the flip side, when BranchCache is not working, users will still probably not really notice anything (besides a performance hit). Therefore, to determine if BranchCache is functioning, the following might be performed:

  • Load up NetMon and watch the traffic flows. Or, if a tool is being used that can monitor bandwidth across the WAN, improvements in bandwidth usage should be seen.

  • Watch the BranchCache event logs. However, this is only partly useful as a majority of the BranchCache event messages are not very meaningful.

  • Run the netsh branchcache show status command. The results from this command are actually a really good starting point to see how BranchCache is configured on a BranchCache client or Hosted Cache server.

  • Look at the BranchCache performance counters (the BranchCache Kernel mode and BranchCache counters). Just keep in mind that Kernel mode counters are only seen server side.

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- Configuring BitLocker Drive Encryption on a Windows Server 2008 R2 Branch Office Domain Controller (part 3) - Enabling BitLocker Drive Encryption when TPM Is Not Available
- Configuring BitLocker Drive Encryption on a Windows Server 2008 R2 Branch Office Domain Controller (part 2) - Enabling BitLocker Drive Encryption with TPM
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- Windows Server 2008: Installing a Read-Only Domain Controller (part 1)
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