In this scenario, the Configuration Manager distribution point is on the core network and the remote clients are on the branch network. The core network is more liable to have servers provisioned for the purpose of distributing packages – the downside in this scenario is that the clients retrieve the packages individually.
If more than one client requires the same package it is transferred across the WAN multiple times, resulting in an inefficient use of bandwidth – there is no awareness of the end-to-end bandwidth availability and is liable to cause WAN saturation. When using Configuration Manager and BITS, the transfer rate can be capped but this is not dynamic and so cannot take advantage of quiet periods to speed up transfers.
In this scenario, the branch network has its own provisioned server acting as the Configuration Manager distribution point. The packages required at the branch are downloaded only once, thereby efficiently using the WAN, but the servers are expensive to commission and maintain. The cost of this scenario in typical branch environments can be prohibitive.
In this scenario, desktop computers at the branch are configured to act as distribution points. The desktops, which are inherently more vulnerable than servers, must be designated and managed as if they were servers and must be constantly available. Microsoft recommends that at least two desktops are configured per site for resilience. In addition, the Microsoft BranchCache implementation of this may initially result in the packages being downloaded more than once until a clear leader becomes apparent.
In this scenario, operating system deployments are being pushed out to machines on the branch network. The bare metal machines at the branch require a PXE service point to provide the bootstrap OS before it is applied and the PXE service point can only be implemented on a server. In addition, client machines require storage for user state, so a state migration point with local storage is required as well.
Now that you have an understanding of the common Configuration Manager scenarios for branch network download distribution, take a look at Nomad features which describes a number of key Nomad features that assist in the distribution of software to branch networks over WAN links.