This presentation, focussing on solutions using Windows Server 2003 and beyond, helped me for two reasons:
1. It reassured me that our plan for doing branch office deployments was fundamentally sound. We’ve been installing single file & print servers that act as domain controllers to do local authentication, DNS and DHCP. One bit we don’t do, that the presentation suggested, was using ISA for caching. The idea is that if the server goes down, the staff can still work because they can access head office systems over the WAN.
2. It reassured me that the pain we’ve been having with DFS (for My Documents replication) should/will go away with the enhanced version of DFS that R2 delivers. This new version introduces remote differential compression to dramatically reduce the amount of bandwidth required to get the files synchronised. DFS also becomes self-healing, able to cope with recovering from a lot of the issues that are seen today.
Another enhancement to DFS is in client redirection. With R2, you will be able to get clients to go to the nearest server first then, if that fails, to the hub. Critically, you can then get the clients to stop looking elsewhere. This avoids the problem of clients in one remote office trying to communicate with a server in another remote office.
Another improvement in R2 that sounds really useful is consolidated printer server management. It will be possible to push printers to machines or users through group policy. This is a really useful enhancement over, say, logon scripts or manual configuration.