Planning for Windows deployments on global scale can be a very difficult task, if you have locations with very low bandwidth available. Features that can be difficult to plan for is for example:
Folder redirection and Offline Files:
are used together to redirect the path of local folders (such as the Documents folder) to a network location, while caching the contents locally for increased speed and availability.
redirects user profiles to a file share so that users receive the same operating system and application settings on multiple computers. When a user signs in to a computer by using an account that is set up with a file share as the profile path, the user’s profile is downloaded to the local computer and merged with the local profile (if present). When the user signs out of the computer, the local copy of their profile, including any changes, is merged with the server copy of the profile. Roaming User Profiles is typically enabled on domain accounts by a network administrator.
In Windows 8, Microsoft has introduced some new features that might show helpful.
- Always Offline mode
- Cost-aware synchronization
- Primary Computer support
Always Offline Mode:
In Windows 8 it is possible to centrally manage the experience for users to always work offline, even when they are connected to a high speed network.
The Always Offline mode provides the following benefits:
- Users experience faster access to files in redirected folders, such as the Documents folder.
- Network bandwidth is reduced, decreasing costs on expensive WAN connections or metered connections such as a 4G mobile network.
Prior to Windows 8, users would transition between the Online and Offline modes, depending on network availability and conditions, even when the Slow-Link mode was enabled and set to a 1 millisecond latency threshold.
With Always Offline mode, computers running Windows 8 never transition to Online mode when the Configure slow-link mode Group Policy setting is configured and the Latency threshold parameter is set to 1 millisecond. Changes are synced in the background every 120 minutes, by default, but synchronization is configurable by using the Configure Background Sync Group Policy setting.
Basically this function will disable background synchronization when the user is using a metered network connection, such as a 3G or 4G mobile network, and the subscriber is near or over their bandwidth limit, or roaming on another provider’s network.
Using this feature will help users avoid unexpectedly high data usage costs while using metered connections that have usage limits, or while roaming on another provider’s network.
Primary Computer Support:
In Windows Server 2012, you can designate one or a set of computers, known as primary computers, for each domain user, which enables you to control which computers use Folder Redirection, Roaming User Profiles, or both. Designating primary computers is a simple method to associate user data and settings with particular computers or devices.
There are four major benefits to designating primary computers for users:
- The administrator can specify which computers users can use to access their redirected data and settings.
- Designating primary computers reduces the security and privacy risk of leaving residual personal or corporate data on computers where the user has logged on.
- Primary computers enable the administrator to mitigate the risk of an improperly configured or otherwise corrupt profile, which could result from roaming between differently configured systems, such as between x86-based and x64-based computers.
- The amount of time required for a user’s first sign-in on a non-primary computer, such as a server, is faster because the user’s roaming user profile and/or redirected folders are not downloaded. Sign-out times are also reduced, because changes to the user profile do not need to be uploaded to the file share.
If you are using System Center 2012, Configuration Manager, which have capability to detect the primary user automatically, you would be able to automatically the the Primary Computer property in AD automatically by using some PowerShell scripting (I’ll post an example later).
All the functionalities mentioned above require that you upgrade the Windows AD Schema to Windows Server 2012.
I’ll recommend you to take a closer look at these functionalities if you’re planning to rollout Windows 8, were you need to include locations with low bandwidth connection into consideration.