Prepare for a Windows Server 2008 R2 Mass Deployment

By Jabez Gan | Dec 31, 2009 | Print this Page
http://www.enterprisenetworkingplanet.com/windows/article.php/3856196/Prepare-for-a-Windows-Server-2008-R2-Mass-Deployment.htm

Consider this scenario: You are tasked to consolidate your servers and deploy Window Server 2008 R2 to your entire enterprise. What would be the fastest method to deploy in a large scale basis?

With a mass deployment in mind, here is a three-step process to get things done:

  1. Read the Infrastructure Planning and Design guides (IPD)
  2. Gather network and server infrastructure information through Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit 4.0 (MAP)
  3. Deploy using Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2010 (MDT) and/or Windows Deployment Services

Now, let's talk more about the process in detail.

Step 1: Read the Infrastructure Planning and Design Guides (IPD)

Infrastructure Planning and Design guides are a series of documents that identify the servers needed for each server role in a deployment. IPD guides also help clarify and streamline the design process for Microsoft infrastructure technologies, with each guide addressing a unique infrastructure technology or scenario. As of this writing, the available infrastructure technology guides include:

All IPD guides are less than 50 pages long and consist only of the information needed to understand how to plan and validate design decisions.

Step 2: Use Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit 4.0 (MAP)

Microsoft calls MAP "a powerful inventory, assessment, and reporting tool that can securely run in small or large IT environments without requiring the installation of agent software on any computers or devices." It's designed to simplify the migration to current Windows operating systems and applications on laptops, desktops and servers.

Figure 1: Deployment Workbench as part of MDT 2010 with applications configuredAfter using IPD to understand design requirements and process, use MAP to determine the current network infrastructure. On collecting the hardware inventory, MAP will then do a compatibility analysis, ensuring that the identified applications are going to work on the targeted operating system (in this case, Windows Server 2008 R2), and lastly it will generate an in-depth readiness report.

One outstanding report feature is the ability to provide recommendations for server consolidation and virtual machine placement using Hyper-V or Virtual Server 2005 R2. As MAP will be collecting server metrics (e.g., processor utilization), it is possible for MAP to determine the best approach to consolidate servers.

Step 3: Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2010 (MDT) and Windows Deployment Services (WDS)

Figure 2. Windows Deployment ServicesOnce you know the appropriate hardware specifications and server roles to set up, it is time to deploy the servers. As we are assuming a wide rollout of Windows Server 2008 R2, we will not be covering tools like sysprep as it requires manual administrator's interaction. Instead, the most appropriate tools for mass deployment are MDT 2010 and WDS.

MDT 2010 provides a common console with comprehensive tools and guidance to manage deployment of latest Windows client and Windows server operating systems.

MDT 2010 creates deployment shares that contain the operating system or image to deploy in a virtual hard disk (VHD) or WIM format. MDT 2010 will then perform the deployments by using either Lite Touch Installation (LTI) or Zero Touch Installation (ZTI). A comparison of LTI and ZTI can be found in the following table.

Lite-Touch Installation (LTI) Zero-Touch Installation (ZTI)
Minimal user interaction No user interaction
Requires MDT 2010 and Windows Deployment Services Requires MDT 2010 and System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R2
Suitable for medium-sized organizations Suitable for medium/large-sized organizations

LTI requires minimal user interaction, as the administrator is required to do a network boot from the individual computers to start the installation. The computers will then connect to Windows Deployment Services to start the installation. As it still requires an administrator to do a network boot manually, this is well suited for medium-sized organizations, where they already have Active Directory and a file server to host the images.

ZTI requires System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R2. It allows the image to be pushed from the server side to the managed clients. Installation requires zero interaction. Although training is required as it is highly complex, the cost is offset by fully automating deployment. It also allows consistent configuration across all client computers, and streamlined maintenance (managing applications, device drivers and updates) is all possible.