Summary

Core features of Nomad that are available with minimal configuration of the Nomad client. Some features require additional configuration of Nomad client on Configuration Manager Distribution Points.

Nomad core features maximize download efficiency in branch network deployment scenarios, and reduces the number of Configuration Manager Distribution Points. Nomad integrates closely with Configuration Manager, assists with WAN link usage efficiency during downloads, copes with different network protocols, and provides support for Configuration Manager content including the following:

  • Applications
  • Packages
  • Software updates, including
    • Office 365 updates
    • Windows 10 Express File Updates
  • App-V virtual applications deployed as streamed content
  • Operating Systems

    • Driver Packages

    • OS images

    • Boot images

    • Task Sequences

These features are described in greater detail in the following pages:

In this section

Download once to branch

Nomad ensures that software packages are only ever copied once per branch over the WAN – utilizing local computers as temporary file caches to distribute the software locally. This reduces the bandwidth required for delivering software updates and means that small offices or sites connected via poor network links can receive software updates more reliably. The Nomad clients with local copies of the package can themselves act as the master if the need arises. This significantly reduces the number of Configuration Manager servers required to manage a Configuration Manager hierarchy, thereby reducing initial and ongoing maintenance costs.

Download resumption and consistency checking

To minimize repeated downloads of the same content from the Distribution Point Nomad supports download resumption and consistency checking.

Nomad Cache

The Nomad cache is essential to Nomad's download once to branch feature. The cache enables Nomad to hold its downloaded content so that it can be distributed locally to other Nomad peers. The Nomad cache contains downloaded content (such as packages, applications, and software updates) which can vary in size from relative small patches to rather large OS image files.

Nomad uses file system hardlinks between the Nomad and Configuration Manager client caches, ensuring that only a single copy of the content is retained. Hardlinks are used for all content types except Office 365 Updates, as this type of content is retained in the Office 365 Click To Run agent installation folder rather than the CCM cache folder.
  • Cache management

    The downloaded content in the Nomad cache consume disk space therefore management of the cache is critical. Because files may be re-used and distributed to other devices on the same subnet or site, the simple solution of deleting the files as soon as they have finished downloading and executing is not sufficient. Instead Nomad has a sophisticated cache cleaner utility that automatically but intelligently maintains control over the cache's disk usage.

  • The Nomad share

    The Nomad cache is configured as a share that enables peer-to-peer distribution of downloaded content. Nomad provides control over the accounts that have access to the share and also provides an advanced Nomad FanOut mechanism that can overcome the connection limit to shares on workstations to ensure that content is distributed efficiently and securely.

  • Peer access to the Nomad cache

    An overview of different methods used by Nomad peers to access the Nomad cache on the elected master.

Distributing software with Nomad and Configuration Manager

Nomad integrates tightly with the Configuration Manager (CM) client content download process. When Nomad is installed, it registers with the Configuration Manager client as an Alternate Content Provider (ACP), which means the CM client will use Nomad as an alternative to BITS when it requires content, if Nomad is enabled for the requested content object. Nomad can be enabled on individual Packages (including Driver Packages, Operating System Images, Operating System Upgrade Packages and Boot Images) and Task Sequences. For Applications and Software Updates, Nomad is enabled on each client for all Applications and Software Updates through Default Client Settings. When the CM client requires Nomad-enabled content, it passes a request to Nomad, which in turn downloads the content, places it in the CM client cache and passes back to the CM client for execution. The 1E Client (with Nomad client module enabled) must be installed on all CM client machines and on all Distribution Points (DP).

Downloading content for CM Software Updates from Microsoft Update
This feature enables Nomad to download content from Windows Update / Microsoft Update (WUMU). Starting in CB version 1806, software updates can be deployed to devices without first downloading and distributing content to Distribution Points, instead clients download updates direcly from the cloud.
Deploying Office 365 updates

Configuration Manager introduced support for Office 365 agents in Current Branch 1602, and Nomad introduced support in version 6.1.100. This section describes how Office 365 deployments differ in terms of ACP requirements and goes on to describe how Nomad behaves during the download.

Windows 10 Express Installation Files and Delta Content for Updates

As Windows 10 cumulative updates get very big, very quickly (often in excess of 1GB a few months after any given Feature Upgrade), Microsoft started publishing express installation files for these updates in addition to the traditional full update files. Configuration Manager introduced support for Windows 10 Express Installation File updates in Current Branch 1802 hotfix KB4163547.

Express installation files are a much larger payload on the Distribution Point compared to traditional software update files, but the feature enables clients to download delta byte-ranges from these files, so each month the amount of data a client has to download is typically much smaller. Configuration Manager Current Branch can be configured to support express installation files (refer to https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/configmgr/sum/deploy-use/manage-express-installation-files-for-windows-10-updates for more details).

With the release of Windows 10 1809, Microsoft replaced express update files with a new way of managing deltas within software updates. In Configuration Manager 1902 the Enable installation of Express installation files on clients option in Software Update Client Settings was replaced with Allow clients to download delta content when available.

Nomad supports the download of Express installation files and delta content for updates.

App-V support

Nomad supports application virtualization (App-V) applications which are deployed as streamed content by Configuration Manager.

Remote differential compression integration

Not only is Nomad aware of the file level differences between different versions of a package so that only changed files are downloaded, it is also aware of the differences within individual files. This is sometimes known as binary differential replication or binary deltas but is more commonly known as remote differential compression (RDC) integration.

Cloud Support

Nomad supports the following Configuration Manager on Azure scenarios:

  • IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) scenario where you host your Configuration Manage infrastructure servers in Azure virtual machines
  • cloud-based distribution points, where System Center Configuration Manager distribution points are hosted in Microsoft Azure as a cloud service
  • Cloud Management Gateways, where Configuration Manager management points are hosted in the cloud.
Windows 10 Express File Updates

Configuration Manager introduced support for Windows 10 Express File Updates in Current Branch 1802 hotfix KB4163547. As Windows 10 cumulative updates get very big very quickly (often in excess of 1GB a few months after any given Feature Upgrade), Microsoft now publish express installation files or these updates in addition to the traditional full update files. Express installation files are a much larger payload on the Distribution Point compared to traditional software update files, but the feature enables clients to download delta byte-ranges from these files, so each month the amount of data a client has to download is typically much smaller. Configuration Manager Current Branch can be configured to support express installation files.