The Midwest Management Summit (MMS) has come and gone, and was once again a fantastic opportunity to meet with like-minded systems management professionals from around the country, talk shop, and share ideas about the most effective options for making Microsoft perform at its best. For almost everyone we spoke to, the challenge that is top of mind is figuring out how to make existing networks capable of driving the heavy demands of not only Windows 10, but the ever-increasing demands of the modern workspace.

The challenge exists even for people we spoke to who have already implemented their operating system deployment. In addition to ongoing patch management and application distribution, other types of content will be competing for the same fixed network resources. For example, video is taking on an increasingly important role as the preferred method for corporate communications and training, while looking ahead we can see that IoT and mobile will soon consume an outsized portion of bandwidth compared to what they use today. As a result, not only does the network manager need to figure out how to manage competing bandwidth needs using a network that’s already stretched to the limit today; she also needs to figure out how to serve even more demand tomorrow.

As people came to MMS to learn about best practices, they were asking us and others about the right way to deliver software content. With a variety of ways to get content from point A to point B, there’s confusion among even the most savvy network administrators as to the benefits and drawbacks of Windows 10 Download Optimization, Brand Cache, Peer Cache, distribution points and peering. Here’s an apples-to-apples comparison to help you see how they stack up and where different options excel or fall short.

The Pros and Cons of Software Delivery Systems


Windows 10 Download Optimization Branch Cache Peer Cache Distribution Points Peering 
Market Consumer and SMB SMB with SCCM or WSUS SMB and Enterprise with SCCM Enterprise with SCCM Enterprise with SCCM
Upfront Cost $ $ $$$ $
Running Cost $$ $$ $$ $$$ $
Windows 10 Feature and Cumulative Updates X
Windows 7 to Windows 10 Migration X X
Packages and Application Deployment X
Peering across subnets X X N/A
Dynamic Bandwidth Throttling / Bandwidth Harvesting X
Serving while still receiving X X N/A
Optimal Source Selection X X X
Load balanced transfers X X X
Resumed Downloads X X X
Considerations for Large Enterprise Organisations •No SCCM support

•No control

•No reporting

•Requires extensive boundary configuration

•Subnet peering only

•No resumed downloads

•High maintenance

•No automatic cache management

•Duplicate content

•No resumed downloads

•Low network efficiency until file fully downloaded

•Requires extensive boundary configuration

•No dynamic bandwidth throttling

•High cost

•High maintenance and operational overhead

•Servers themselves need to be updated

•Become regional SPOF

•Quick to deploy

•Easy to manage

•High network efficiency, across all architectures

•Low maintenance overhead


How to Make the Right Choice

Most likely, your network will require a combination of capabilities working together to solve your network challenges. While each solution has its merits, the right mix can help simplify your life now while future proofing your network for delivery challenges down the road.

Of course, there’s no one right mix for everyone; each enterprise will need to address their content delivery capabilities in a way that reflects where their business is now and where they expect it to go. When exploring your options, ask yourself these five questions to help make your selection:

  • Can you leverage your existing investment in SCCM distribution, or will you need to start from scratch?
  • Will it work to improve the performance of your current network investments, or will it compete or add complexity to your current system?
  • Will it reduce network load at the same time as it accelerates content dissemination, or is there a trade-off you’ll need to overcome?
  • Will it be able to centralize and simplify operations with a cloud solution that lets you work from one desk?
  • Is it an open platform that can distribute software/OSD/video/IoT requirements/mobile/etc, or is it content-specific?