Deploying BranchCache Hosted Mode - Part 3: Installing BranchCache and Configuring GPO Support for BranchCache

by [Published on 9 Dec. 2009 / Last Updated on 9 Dec. 2009]

Deploying BranchCache Hosted Mode; How to install BranchCache and configure GPO support for it.

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NOTE:
As many of you already know, Tom has taken a job with Microsoft and consequently will no longer be contributing articles to WindowNetworking.com and its sister sites (although, like some other Microsoft employees, he will still be around, participating in the discussion boards). His regular duties here will be taken over by Deb Shinder, who is already a regular contributor to WindowSecurity.com. You can see her full bio on her web site at www.debshinder.com

Introduction

In the first article in this series, Tom explained that BranchCache is a new feature in Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 that allows you to cache files and other content obtained over HTTP, HTTPS, BITS or SMB2. This feature speeds up file access for computers located at a branch office that might be connected to a main office over a relatively slow WAN link. After the first computer at the branch office obtains a piece of content, that content is shared with a Hosted Mode BranchCache Server at the branch office. The second host at the branch office to request the same content from the main office will have the content delivered to it from the BranchCache Hosted Mode server in the branch office instead of the content server at the main office. This allows file and other content at fast LAN speeds, compared to slow WAN speeds.

In the second part of the series, he went over the details of the lab setup and provided a general description of what needs to be done to get the solution to work. In this part 3, I will begin the configuration process – starting the series of steps as those described in part 2. Let’s get started!

Here is what we are going to cover in this article:

  • Installing BranchCache on the Content Server
  • Installing the BranchCache Enabled File Server Role
  • Creating a BranchCache File Servers OU
  • Moving the BranchCache enabled file server into the File Servers OU
  • Creating a BranchCache File Servers GPO
  • Configuring the BranchCache File Server GPO to support BranchCache Hash Publication
  • Turning on BranchCache on a File Share on the content server

Install BranchCache on the Content Server

The first thing we need to do is install the BranchCache feature on the content server.

  1. On the content server (FILESERVER), open Server Manager.
  2. In the left pane of the console, click the Features node. Then click the Add Features link on the right side of the console.


Figure 1

  1. In the Add Features Wizard, in Features, select the BranchCache check box, and then click Next.


Figure 2

  1. In Confirm Installation Selections, click Install.
  2. In Installation Results, Confirm that the Installation Succeeded. Click Close in the Add Features Wizard.
  3. In the left pane of the console, expand Configuration and click Services.
  4. In the middle pane, in Services, click BranchCache. Then click the Start Service button.


Figure 3

Note that the BranchCache service is set to automatic, so that it will start automatically when the machine is restarted.

Install the BranchCache Enabled File Server

That’s all for the BranchCache server at this time. Now we need to go to the file server that will act as the BranchCache enabled content server. The first step is to add the file server role and the BranchCache role service.

Perform the following steps on the File Server virtual machine:

  1. Open Server Manager and click Roles in the left pane. Click the Add Roles link on the right side of the console.
  2. Click Next on the Before You Begin page.
  3. On the Select Server Roles page, in the Roles list, put a checkmark in the File Services check box, and click Next.


Figure 4

  1. On the File Services page, read the information and click Next.
  2. On the Select Role Services page, in the Role services list, confirm that File Server is selected. Then put a checkmark in the BranchCache for network files check box, and then click Next.


Figure 5

  1. On the Confirm Installation Selections page click Install.
  2. Confirm the Installation succeeded  and click Close.

Note that after the service is installed successfully, the wizard tells you that you need to configure the folders to support BranchCache. We will do that later.

Create a BranchCache File Servers OU

The next step is to create a BranchCache File Servers OU. We do that so that we can use a GPO to enable hash publication for file servers. These hashes are part of the metadata that the content server sends to the client. So we will first create the File Servers OU, and then create a GPO for that OU that enables hash publication for those file servers.

Perform the following steps on the domain controller.

  1. On the domain controller, open Active Directory Users and Computers.
  2. In the Active Directory Users and Computers console, right-click branchcache.com to add the OU. Point to New, and then click Organizational Unit. The New Object – Organizational Unit dialog box opens.
  3. In the New Object – Organizational Unit dialog box, in Name, type a name for the new OU. For example, if you want to name the OU BranchCache file servers, type BranchCache file servers, and then click OK.


Figure 6

Move the File Server into the BranchCache File Servers OU

Now we need to move the file server into the OU.

Perform this step on the domain controller:

  1. On the domain controller, open the Active Directory Users and Computers console.
  2. In the Active Directory Users and Computers console, locate FILESERVER in the Computers container, left-click to select the account, and then drag and drop FILESERVER on the BranchCache file servers OU. Click Yes in the dialog box to confirm that you want to move FILESERVER to the new OU.


Figure 7

  1. FILESERVER now appears in the new OU.


Figure 8

Create the BranchCache File Servers GPO

Now we have the BranchCache File Servers OU created and we have placed the FILESERVER computer into that OU. Now we will create a GPO for that OU so that we can publish the file hashes to support BranchCache.

Perform the following steps on the domain controller.

  1. From the Administrative Tools menu, open the Group Policy Management console.
  2. In the Group Policy Management console, expand the path to the BranchCache File Servers OU and then left click on the OU.


Figure 9

  1. Right-click Group Policy Objects, and then click New. The New GPO dialog box opens. In Name, type a name for the new Group Policy object (GPO). In this example, we’ll name the object BranchCache Hash Publication. Click OK.


Figure 10

  1. In the Group Policy Management console, right-click the BranchCache File Servers OU and then click Link an Existing GPO. In the Select GPO dialog box, in Group Policy objects, click the BranchCache hash publication GPO. Click OK.


Figure 11

Enable File Server BranchCache Hash Publication in the BranchCache Hash Publication GPO

With a GPO in place, we can now configure it to create the hashes needed to support BranchCache on the file server.

Perform the following steps on the domain controller.

  1. In the Group Policy Management console, expand the path to the BranchCache hash publication GPO.


Figure 12

  1. Right-click the BranchCache Hash Publication GPO and click Edit.
  2. In the Group Policy Management Editor console, expand to:  Computer Configuration | Policies, Administrative Templates | Network | Lanman Server.


Figure 13

  1. Click Lanman Server. In the details pane, double-click Hash Publication for BranchCache. The Hash Publication for BranchCache dialog box opens.
  2. In the Hash Publication for BranchCache dialog box, click Enabled.


Figure 14

  1. Under Options, click Allow hash publication for all shared folder, and then click one of the following:
    a.       To enable hash publication for all shared folders on this computer, click Allow hash publication for all shared folder.
    b.      To enable hash publication only for shared folders for which BranchCache is enabled, click Allow hash publication only for shared folders on which BranchCache is enabled.
    c.       To disallow hash publication for all shared folders on the computer even if BranchCache is enabled on the file shares, click Disallow hash publication on all shared folders.
  2. In this example, we will select Allow publication for all shared folder [sic].
  3. Click OK.

Turn on BranchCache on a File Share

We are almost there. Now that BranchCache is enabled and hash publication is being performed, we can enable BranchCache on a file share. In this example, we have created a share on the desktop called Shared Files, and Domain Users have permission to read the file.

Perform the following steps on File Server.

  1. From the Administrative Tools menu, open the Share and Storage Management console.
  2. In the middle pane, on the Shares tab, right-click the share, and then click Properties. The share’s Properties dialog box opens.
  3. In the Properties dialog box, on the Sharing tab, click Advanced.


Figure 15

  1. Click the Caching tab, confirm that Only the files and programs that users specify are available offline is enabled, and then put a checkmark in the Enable BranchCache checkbox.


Figure 16

  1. Click OK twice to close the dialog boxes.

And that is it!!

Summary

In this article, part 3 in our series on how to configure the BranchCache Hosted Mode solution, we went over the installation process for the BranchCache feature on the file server, creating the BranchCache File Servers OU, creating a GPO to enable hash publication for the members of that OU, and then configured the GPO so that hashes are published for shared files on the BranchCache enabled file server. Finally, we enabled BranchCache on a file share that we created on the BranchCache enabled file server.

In part 4 of this series, we turn our attention to the client computers and the BranchCache server. The client computers need to be configured to support BranchCache Hosted Mode, and the BranchCache server itself needs to be configured to work in Hosted Mode. See you next week! – Deb.

If you would like to be notified when Deb Shinder releases the next part of this article series please sign up to the WindowsNetworking.com Real time article update newsletter.

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

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