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Build a Distributed Environment for Windows 8.1 Deployment

Published: May 9, 2014

Applies To: Windows 8.1

In this topic, you will learn how to replicate your Windows 8.1 deployment shares to facilitate the deployment of Windows 8.1 in remote or branch locations. If you work in a distributed environment, replicating the deployment shares is an important part of the deployment solution. With images reaching 5 GB in size or more, you can’t deploy machines in a remote office over the wire. You need to replicate the content, so that the clients can do local deployments.

We will use four machines for this topic: DC01, MDT01, MDT02, and PC0006. DC01 is a domain controller, MDT01 is a Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard server, and PC0006 is a blank machine to which you will deploy Windows 8.1. You will configure a second deployment server (MDT02) for a remote site (Stockholm) by replicating the deployment share in the original site (New York). MDT01, MDT02, and PC0006 are members of the domain contoso.com for the fictitious Contoso Corporation. For more details on the setup for this topic, please see Proof-Of-Concept Environment.

Figure 1

Figure 6.1. The machines used in this topic.

Replicating the content between MDT01 (New York) and MDT02 (Stockholm) can be done in a number of different ways. The most common content replication solutions with Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) 2013 use either the Linked Deployment Shares (LDS) feature or Distributed File System Replication (DFS-R). Some organizations have used a simple robocopy script for replication of the content.

noteNote
Robocopy has options that allow for synchronization between folders. It has a simple reporting function; it supports transmission retry; and, by default, it will only copy/remove files from the source that are newer than files on the target.

LDS is a built-in feature in MDT 2013 for replicating content. However, LDS works best with strong connections such as LAN connections with low latency. For most WAN links, DFS-R is the better option.

DFS-R is not only very fast and reliable, but it also offers central monitoring, bandwidth control, and a great delta replication engine. DFS-R will work equally well whether you have 2 sites or 90. When using DFS-R for MDT 2013, we recommend running your deployment servers on Windows Server 2008 R2 or higher. From that version on, you can configure the replication target(s) as read-only, which is exactly what you want for MDT 2013. This way, you can have your master deployment share centralized and replicate out changes as they happen. DFS-R will quickly pick up changes at the central deployment share in MDT01 and replicate the delta changes to MDT02.

Setting up DFS-R for replication is a quick and straightforward process. You prepare the deployment servers and then create a replication group. To complete the setup, you configure some replication settings.

  1. On MDT01, using Server Manager, click Add roles and features.

  2. On the Select installation type page, select Role-based or feature-based installation.

  3. On the Select destination server page, select MDT01.contoso.com and click Next.

  4. On the Select server roles page, expand File and Storage Services (Installed) and expand File and iSCSI Services (Installed).

  5. In the Roles list, select DFS Replication. In the Add Roles and Features Wizard dialog box, select Add Features, and then click Next.

    Figure 2 Figure 6.2. Adding the DFS Replication role to MDT01.

  6. On the Select features page, accept the default settings, and click Next.

  7. On the Confirm installation selections page, click Install.

  8. On the Installation progress page, click Close.

  1. On MDT02, using Server Manager, click Add roles and features.

  2. On the Select installation type page, select Role-based or feature-based installation.

  3. On the Select destination server page, select MDT02.contoso.com and click Next.

  4. On the Select server roles page, expand File and Storage Services (Installed) and expand File and iSCSI Services (Installed).

  5. In the Roles list, select DFS Replication. In the Add Roles and Features Wizard dialog box, select Add Features, and then click Next.

  6. On the Select features page, accept the default settings, and click Next.

  7. On the Confirm installation selections page, click Install.

  8. On the Installation progress page, click Close.

  1. On MDT02, using File Explorer, create the E:\MDTProduction folder.

  2. Share the E:\MDTProduction folder as MDTProduction$. Use the default permissions.

    Figure 3 Figure 6.3. Sharing the E:\MDTProduction folder on MDT02.

When you have multiple deployment servers sharing the same content, you need to configure the Bootstrap.ini file with information about which server to connect to based on where the client is located. In MDT, that can be done by using the DefaultGateway property.

  1. On MDT01, using Notepad, navigate to the E:\MDTProduction\Control folder and modify the Boostrap.ini file to look like this:

    [Settings]
    Priority=DefaultGateway, Default
    [DefaultGateway]
    192.168.1.1=NewYork
    192.168.2.1=Stockholm
    [NewYork]
    DeployRoot=\\MDT01\MDTProduction$
    [Stockholm]
    DeployRoot=\\MDT02\MDTProduction$
    [Default]
    UserDomain=CONTOSO
    UserID=MDT_BA
    SkipBDDWelcome=YES
    
    noteNote
    The DeployRoot value needs to go into the Bootstrap.ini file, but you can use the same logic in the CustomSettings.ini file. For example, you can redirect the logs to the local deployment server (SLSHARE), or have the User State Migration Tool (USMT) migration store (UDDIR) local. To learn more about USMT, see Refresh a Windows 7 Computer with Windows 8.1 and Replace a Windows 7 Computer with a Windows 8.1 Computer.

  2. Save the Bootstrap.ini file.

  3. Using the Deployment Workbench, right-click the MDT Production deployment share and select Update Deployment Share.

    Figure 4 Figure 6.4. Updating the MDT Production deployment share.

  4. Use the default settings for the Update Deployment Share Wizard.

  5. After the update is complete, use the Windows Deployment Services console. In the Boot Images node, right-click the MDT Production x64 boot image and select Replace Image.

    Figure 5 Figure 6.5. Replacing the updated boot image in WDS.

  6. Browse and select the E:\MDTProduction\Boot\LiteTouchPE_x64.wim boot image, and then complete Replace Boot Image Wizard using the default settings.

Once the MDT01 and MDT02 servers are prepared, you are ready to configure the actual replication.

  1. On MDT01, using DFS Management, right-click Replication, and select New Replication Group.

  2. On the Replication Group Type page, select Multipurpose replication group, and click Next.

  3. On the Name and Domain page, assign the MDTProduction name, and click Next.

  4. On the Replication Group Members page, click Add, add MDT01 and MDT02, and then click Next.

    Figure 6 Figure 6.6. Adding the Replication Group Members.

  5. On the Topology Selection page, select the Full mesh option and click Next.

  6. On the Replication Group Schedule and Bandwidth page, accept the default settings and click Next.

  7. On the Primary Member page, select MDT01 and click Next.

  8. On the Folders to Replicate page, click Add, type in E:\MDTProduction as the folder to replicate, click OK, and then click Next.

  9. On the Local Path of MDTProduction on the Other Members page, select MDT02, and click Edit.

  10. On the Edit page, select the Enabled option, type in E:\MDTProduction as the local path of folder, select the Make the selected replicated folder on this member read-only check box, click OK, and then click Next.

    Figure 7 Figure 6.7. Configure the MDT02 member.

  11. On the Review Settings and Create Replication Group page, click Create.

  12. On the Confirmation page, click Close.

  1. On MDT01, using DFS Management, expand Replication and then select MDTProduction.

  2. In the middle pane, right-click the MDT01 member and select Properties.

  3. On the MDT01 (MDTProduction) Properties page, configure the following and then click OK:

    1. In the Staging tab, set the quota to 20480 MB.

    2. In the Advanced tab, set the quota to 8192 MB.

      In this scenario the size of the deployment share is known, but you might need to change the values for your environment. A good rule of thumb is to get the size of the 16 largest files and make sure they fit in the staging area. Here is a Windows PowerShell example that calculates the size of the 16 largest files in the E:\MDTProduction deployment share:

      (Get-ChildItem E:\MDTProduction -Recurse | Sort-Object Length -Descending | Select-Object -First 16 | Measure-Object -Property Length -Sum).Sum /1GB
      
    Figure 8 Figure 6.8. Configure the Staging settings.

  4. In the middle pane, right-click the MDT02 member and select Properties.

  5. On the MDT02 (MDTProduction) Properties page, configure the following and then click OK:

    1. In the Staging tab, set the quota to 20480 MB.

    2. In the Advanced tab, set the quota to 8192 MB.

noteNote
It will take some time for the replication configuration to be picked up by the replication members (MDT01 and MDT02). The time for the initial sync will depend on the WAN link speed between the sites. After that, delta changes are replicated quickly.

  1. On MDT02, wait until you start to see content appear in the E:\MDTProduction folder.

  2. Using DFS Management, expand Replication, right-click MDTProduction, and select Create Diagnostics Report.

  3. In the Diagnostics Report Wizard, on the Type of Diagnostics Report or Test page, select Health report and click Next.

  4. On the Path and Name page, accept the default settings and click Next.

  5. On the Members to Include page, accept the default settings and click Next.

  6. On the Options page, accept the default settings and click Next.

  7. On the Review Settings and Create Report page, click Create.

  8. Open the report in Internet Explorer, and if necessary, select the Allow blocked content option.

Figure 9

Figure 6.9. The DFS Replication Health Report.

Like you did in the previous topic for MDT01, you need to add the MDT Production Lite Touch x64 Boot image to Windows Deployment Services on MDT02. For the following steps, we assume that WDS has already been installed on MDT02.

  1. On MDT02, using the WDS console, right-click Boot Images and select Add Boot Image.

  2. Browse to the E:\MDTProduction\Boot\LiteTouchPE_x64.wim file and add the image with the default settings.

Now you should have a solution ready for deploying the Windows 8.1 client to the remote site, Stockholm, connecting to the MDT Production deployment share replica on MDT02.

  1. Create a virtual machine with the following settings:

    1. Name: PC0006

    2. Location: C:\VMs

    3. Generation: 2

    4. Memory: 2048 MB

    5. Hard disk: 60 GB (dynamic disk)

  2. Start the PC0006 virtual machine, and press Enter to start the Pre-Boot Execution Environment (PXE) boot. The machine will now load the Windows PE boot image from the WDS server.

    FIG 10

    Figure X.XX. The initial PXE boot process of PC0005.

  3. After Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE) has booted, complete the Windows Deployment Wizard using the following settings:

    1. Password: P@ssw0rd

    2. Select a task sequence to execute on this computer:

      1. Windows 8.1 Enterprise x64 RTM Custom Image

      2. Computer Name: PC0006

      3. Applications: Select the Install - Adobe Reader XI - x86 application

  4. The setup will now start and do the following:

    1. Install the Windows 8.1 Enterprise operating system.

    2. Install the added application.

    3. Update the operating system via your local Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) server.

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