Are Distribution Points Slowing Down Your SCCM?

In the old days of managing an enterprise network, IT would often have to update each computer on a machine-by-machine basis. Eventually, Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) came along to enable IT to update devices across the network from a single workstation.

However, larger, more frequent updates coupled with an explosion of devices in the workplace has brought IT back to moving at a snail’s pace when it comes to updates. Instead of the bottleneck being the speed of a human, now the bottleneck is your distribution points.

In an enterprise network, a distribution point is used to store files such as an update that are then sent out to the rest of your devices. Once you send the update file to the distribution point, thousands of your devices then try to access that one file at the same time, choking your network while delaying the time it takes to distribute the update to every device.

Each distribution point is only capable of handling so much data. While this system made sense back when updates were less frequent, in this world of Windows 10 apps are being updated on an constant, rolling basis.

To overcome these bottlenecks, you have two choices. One is to scale your distribution point network through hardware. That means expensive, specialized computers and staff budget for setting up new distributions points and maintaining hardware. In addition to the expense of hardware and staff, scaling hardware can take weeks or months to plan, order, get the hardware delivered, and carve out IT staff time to set the new machines up. Scaling through hardware only makes sense if money and time are two things you have a lot of.

Luckily, the rest of us have choice #2: scaling through software. By scaling your distribution network through the use of peer to peer architecture, you can easily realize a number of benefits:

Increased velocity: With smart peering, every endpoint on your network also becomes a distribution point. When every device can start downloading patches from your other devices instead of waiting in line to download it from a distribution point, you can deliver content to the very edge of your network in a fraction of the time and get all your machines protected sooner.

Reduced costs: With smart peering, not only can you skip adding more hardware. You can also reduce or redeploy your existing distribution point hardware as your endpoints become distribution points themselves. In our experience, enterprises can eliminate as much as 90% of their physical distribution point infrastructure by implementing peering technology in their content delivery network.

Better use of IT time: What happens when you eliminate 90% of your physical distribution points? Your IT team can spend time they would have spent setting up machines and conducting maintenance on higher-value tasks. In fact, we’ve seen clients free up 2-3 FTEs that they were able to shift to more strategic initiatives within their organizations. With enterprises undergoing digital transformation at a breakneck pace, IT time is far too valuable to still spend on things like managing distribution points.

The promise of SCCM is the speed and simplicity it provides administrators in deploying software and patches across thousands or even millions of devices across their global enterprise network. By employing peer to peer architecture, IT can finally realize this promise–no additional distributions points required.

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