For large organizations with mobile staff located at branch offices, organizing corporate files and software is a complicated task. File servers normally store data files and software for client access at the corporate headquarters. Incremental operating system patches and hot-fixes are downloaded from Microsoft's Windows Update site directly by the client or to a centrally located systems management server, from which the updates are pushed to the client stations automatically. Antivirus updates are loaded in a similar fashion, resulting in each branch office containing numerous clients downloading the same file (virus definitions) across expensive WAN links.
File sizes vary from extremely large, for entire hard disk images for PC ghosting purposes, to very small, for antivirus definition or security hotfix updates. File compression is of limited use for large images, so scalability is a major issue for most organizations with limited WAN bandwidth available to the branch office. Files that benefit from file compression, such as text files, are not normally as large, so they do not have a major effect on WAN bandwidth.
Typical large-scale software distribution processes involve a third-party systems management application to build and distribute content. For large organizations with mobile staff located at branch offices, the penetration of software distribution is often low. Furthermore, the servers themselves are Windows-based in the vast majority of enterprise environments. Windows-based file servers are as vulnerable to malicious code as the clients they are protecting; therefore, they, too, must be included in the update process. Because Cisco's software distribution platform is a hardened content network appliance, it is not vulnerable to Windows-based malicious code or security exploits.
This type of solution is beneficialone that pre-positions content to your branch office directly to avoid replicated client requests from consuming valuable WAN bandwidth, especially during peak hours of traffic. Additionally, the solution must be able to intelligently route content to the closest source, normally at the branch office where the client is located, instead of pointing every workstation or server in the organization to the origin server, which is located at the headquarters. The solution must be able to scale with company growth and be easily administered, allowing for bandwidth throttling. A user must be able to work from any remote location and have content requests automatically directed to the local content. If possible, you can add beneficial features of the solution that include scheduling off-hours or staggered content updates across the WAN to branch office remote locations. Overall bandwidth consumption will be reduced as a result.