Delivering Windows 10 deployment data of 30GB+ over a company WAN reminds me of my brief life as a PC gamer back in the 1990s (ancient tech, 386 and MS-DOS). I became obsessed with a game called Wing Commander. I flew a fighter through space — slowing down to navigate asteroid fields and tangling with enemy fighters — to help get the mother ship safely to its destination before it was too late.

That’s not unlike the challenge people face with Windows 10 OSD: how to get 30GB image and support files to their destination at the fastest possible speed without crashing into other network traffic.

If you are a Microsoft Systems Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) administrator, have you moved your company to Windows 10 yet? The entire company?

If yes, congratulations, you are way ahead of about 64 percent of your colleagues. Stop here, and treat yourself to a much-deserved holiday in Paris, Bangkok, London, Singapore or Minneapolis (or come to the Midwest Management Summit in May and gloat).

If not, continue …

Choosing the right Windows 10 operating system deployment (OSD) technology for a distributed organization can be daunting. There are countless factors to consider, and every company is unique. While Windows 10 may be critical to your company’s future, you may have tens of thousands — or millions — of computers to migrate. This puts a lot of stress on IT professionals like you, but it is manageable if you have a plan.

Let’s first consider a server infrastructure versus a peer-to-peer technology environment. Then let’s take it slow and steady, beginning with two overriding goals — infrastructure reduction and speeding deployment — and the questions you should be asking to reduce time, cost and, most importantly, stress.

How Much Infrastructure Can Windows 10 Eliminate?

For decades, global endpoint management solutions have used a server-intensive architecture, which is expensive and time-consuming. In these scenarios, a server at each remote facility receives software and updates over the company WAN and stores (caches) it at that location. The caching server, called a distribution point (DP) in SCCM, shares the software with other systems on the local LAN. This works well when the servers are running correctly. However, it requires an army of servers and all the maintenance and costs that go along with that. Also, deploying a global server infrastructure to thousands of locations can take years.

Peer-to-peer technology can reduce or eliminate server infrastructure. It can eliminate all remote distribution points by using PCs and laptops to share and distribute content. When a PC needs content, peer technology intelligently downloads it from other peers on the local network. If not present locally, it downloads it from somewhere else on the WAN. Your worldwide content cache becomes your worldwide content distribution engine — all without servers.

When considering infrastructure reduction with Windows 10, be sure to ask these questions:

  • Does the solution replace all remote SCCM servers or just most of them?
  • Can it safely replace the need for a server at a facility, with no negative impact to the speed and reliability of business operations?
  • Will the solution intelligently download new content from the logically nearest peer on the WAN (i.e., another office’s peer-to-peer network), or is it forced to go across the WAN to an SCCM DP server every time it needs to download new content?
  • Can it replace the roles of PXE and SMP servers in a peer-to-peer environment, supporting serverless global Windows 10 OSD?