StifleR makes your network go faster. It’s that simple if you want to leave it there, but no, you have to know more don’t you..
What Does It Do?
StifleR makes sure that your users get the content that they need from the most local source to them, in the most efficient way possible, without upsetting the network folks. Basically moving software from A to B like a complete boss is our business. Anywhere in the world.
Be it from the Cloud, local servers, or corporate datacentre, StifleR delivers content reliably over WAN, LAN, Wifi or HiFi (ok not HiFi but you get the idea).
Why Do We Need It?
Think of it this way. Would you get onto an airplane knowing that there was no Air Traffic Control in place? Nuff said. Without the StifleR your WAN and LAN traffic is ‘flying blind’ and potentially blocking business critical content such as Point-of-Sale data or whatever, with Jimmy in the Mailroom’s Game of Thrones download.
As we say – ‘How to be the Network team’s best friend in 5 minutes or less’
But How Do You Do It 2Pint?
Well we built StifleR around some awesome Microsoft tech such as BranchCache, which is a WAN Accelerator that’s been built into Windows for 7 years now. We also use Microsoft SignalR (see what we did with the name there?) which is a mahooosively scalable platform for real-time comms and all that. Pair all that with the mighty Background Intelligent Transfer Service and you got a marriage made to last.
Using all of the above, we built a solution that can pamper, whittle, slice, dice and make your precious software purrr like a cat all the way to the remotest of remote locations, or the CEO’s Surface Book. Windows Updates, Applications, Office files, even little Jimmy’s Game of Thrones download..awwww
Don’t Take Our Dodgy Word For It Here’s What Some Normal People Think
I saw StifleR working on top of BranchCache, that is some seriously awesome technology, lightweight and “just works”. Nice.
Standard? Nothing standard about this baby, here’s what you get out of the box..
StifleR accelerates content transfers by utilizing the Microsoft BranchCache service, which enables caching, de-duplication and Peer-to-Peer distribution of content on local networks.
StifleR with BranchCache can have a profound effect on where users actually source their content and the bandwidth consumed in retrieving that data.
It eliminates unnecessary round trips from the local computer to the datacenter for content by keeping an accessible copy of the content in the local computer cache which can then be shared with peer computers locally.Altogether, this results in a significant reduction in bandwidth used, and users will often be able to get the content much faster than retrieving it directly from the datacenter.
StifleR allows almost limitless control over current content transfers from Windows client computers using the Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS).
StifleR can automatically limit, pause, re-prioritize or increase the amount of Bandwidth used between your datacenter content servers and client systems at any location. This ensures that your business critical network traffic need not be affected by the day-to-day distribution of the many types of enterprise content that we are required to move quietly and efficiently every day.
StifleR allows you to see where your content is while it is being transferred over the network, at any time via the Dashboards. You can link this with our BranchCache Reporting solution, to see where all global content resides at rest on disk in operational locations around the world.
Without those capabilities, you’re flying blind and you may be at risk when dealing with zero-day security patches, requests from high profile users, mission-critical fixes, etc.
StifleR will always attempt to do most of the above for you automatically and without intervention. Once configured with the relevant network and location data, StifleR is designed to run on ‘Auto-Pilot’ There may of course be cases where you want to change some settings manually, in order to expedite a certain deployment for instance, and that can also be easily automated and scripted via our WMI Provider and PowerShell. It’s an Administrators wet dream!
Enterprise, as in Starship. Tons of extra bells and we threw in some whistles too.
StifleR can use Wake-on-LAN tech to power on systems at the same location that may have the content that is being requested but are turned off. Obviously this saves bandwidth and time as the transfer then becomes P2P instead of a WAN transfer.
BranchCache V2->V1 Auto Detection
This will detect that you have a mixture of BranchCache V2 and V1 computers in your environment and allows the V2 machines to become Red Leaders, but still creating the hash data for the V1 clients. Given the fact that V2 machines are using de-duplication on the download side, it will speed up the transfer time for the V1 clients greatly.
Allows locations with multiple VLANs or Subnets to share one Red Leader instead of having one per Subnet.
Command Line Execution
Ever wanted to run a simple command line across many systems in order to fix something? Look no further my friend…
Same as the Command Line execution, but with PowerShell scripts on Clients instead. Each script is distributed to the client and executed. How very powerful is that!
Roll Your Own BITS Downloads
StifleR not only monitors BITS downloads, it can create them too. Uses? Sky’s the limit really but here’s a couple – Download the ‘top 10’ most accessed files from your corporate intranet into the BranchCache cache overnight – seed certain key systems in remote locations with Software Updates that can then be shared via BranchCache. Pretty kinky stuff no?
The nerdy but essential detail.
Software and Hardware Requirements
StifleR Server Hardware
StifleR is CPU intensive. Since StifleR does not use that many threads, a higher frequency (Ghz) is recommended. We recommend at least a 3Ghz processor with 8 cores. Don’t forget that most CPU’s also has to handle some of the Network connnectivy management.
StifleR doesn’t have any database, only in RAM memory objects. Since each connection and all connection data is stored in RAM, a descent size of RAM is recommended. But just 8GB of RAM should be plenty for 100K clients.
StifleR doesn’t write very much to disk, so it can be slow.
As each client has a non-managed SignalR client connection (web sockets) to the server, if you want to run 100k clients to a single server in ‘conneted’mode (i.e a constant connection to the server) you may need to beef up the network connectivity.
If you are supporting a large number of clients, you probably want a dual or 4x super expensive 10Gb/s NIC’s for your StifleR server. This will ensure that tha NIC’s has enough power to manage the large number of connections.
StifleR Server Software
You need Windows Server 2012 as a minimum, with IIS and the .NET framework 4.6
If the client hardware can run Windows, it can run the StifleR Client. CPU & Memory utilization is very low.
Is StifleR a Replacement For ConfigMgr?
Nope, there are a million things that ConfigMgr does that StifleR doesn’t do. StifleR does a few things ConfigMgr doesn’t do. That’s the difference. You really can’t compare the two. But they are great together.
Built on Microsoft SignalR
All communication between clients/servers and dashboards are done via SignalR. Understanding SignalR is therefore key in understanding how StifleR works.
A single StifleR server is designed to support at least a 100k clients. The real number of course is dependent on hardware limits. See the hardware requirements.
ASP.NET SignalR is a new library for ASP.NET developers that makes developing real-time web functionality easy. SignalR allows bi-directional communication between server and client. Servers can now push content to connected clients instantly as it becomes available. SignalR supports Web Sockets, and falls back to other compatible techniques for older browsers. SignalR includes APIs for connection management (for instance, connect and disconnect events), grouping connections, and authorization.
What is SignalR?
ASP.NET SignalR is a library for ASP.NET developers that simplifies the process of adding real-time web functionality to applications. Real-time web functionality is the ability to have server code push content to connected clients instantly as it becomes available, rather than having the server wait for a client to request new data.
SignalR can be used to add any sort of “real-time” web functionality to your ASP.NET application. While chat is often used as an example, you can do a whole lot more. Any time a user refreshes a web page to see new data, or the page implements long polling to retrieve new data, it is a candidate for using SignalR. Examples include dashboards and monitoring applications, collaborative applications (such as simultaneous editing of documents), job progress updates, and real-time forms.
SignalR also enables completely new types of web applications that require high frequency updates from the server, for example, real-time gaming. For a great example of this, see the ShootR game.