Deploying a new desktop operating system is rarely, if ever, a process that anyone would consider “easy.” The desktop environment is complex, with multiple hardware configurations, a wide range of applications in use, and any number of potential end-user issues that can arise. However, at some point it will become necessary to upgrade the OS to take advantage of new capabilities and capture advances in security and manageability.
The Windows Vista operating system was designed to make manageability a core part of the operating system. And while we still would not characterize deploying any new operating system in your organization as “easy,” we do believe that some of the new capabilities of Windows Vista, combined with a whole new set of deployment tools and guidance, can help you make the process a lot easier. Here, we will take a look at some of these capabilities and resources like Microsoft Deployment, the next version of Business Desktop Deployment (BDD) 2007, and examine how they can make the deployment process more manageable. The following are five important ways that you can benefit from these tools and resources to make the process of deploying Windows Vista an easier one.
Microsoft Deployment integrates with other recently released Microsoft deployment technologies in new ways to create a single path for image creation and automated installation. Using Microsoft Deployment with System Center Configuration Manager 2007 or System Management Center (SMS) 2003 allows you to perform deployments in less time, standardize images, limit service disruptions, and simplify ongoing support and maintenance.
If your organization uses Configuration Manager 2007, Microsoft Deployment makes automating the deployment process a lot easier. By using the built-in OS deployment capability in Configuration manager, along with specific functionality included in Microsoft Deployment, you can now perform “Zero Touch Installation,” which automates the deployment of Windows Vista. These tools help to guide you through all of the steps involved with performing a fully automated Windows Vista deployment, including ensuring the appropriate infrastructure exists, preparing the deployment environment, configuring resource access and the ZTI OS image, creating the ZTI OS image installation CD, and deploying the OS to client computers.
For those with SMS 2003, you can perform Zero Touch Installation using the Operating System Deployment Feature Pack with Systems Management Server 2003, along with Microsoft Deployment for additional functionality and process guidance. Microsoft Deployment can also be used to create reference images.
The new task sequencing model in Microsoft Deployment offers even more flexibility than the “builds” used in BDD 2007 and provides a more direct way to manage task configuration. All of the task sequence configuration information is now maintained within the task sequence itself, not in the general and settings tabs. For example, you can specify the desk configuration directly within the disk partitioning task. You can organize and perform pre- and post-deployment tasks in one interface with minimal scripting effort.
The deployment process is now the same as the new operating system deployment feature in Configuration Manager. It provides complete integration into the Configuration Manager 2007 admin console and task sequencing capabilities. You can speed Configuration Manager 2007 operating system deployments using one wizard to create needed task sequences and packages. With Microsoft Deployment, you can extend the Configuration Manager 2007 task sequencing capabilities with new actions.
For organizations without a software distribution infrastructure like Configuration Manager 2007 or SMS 2003, Microsoft Deployment provides a “Lite Touch Installation” (LTI) option through the newly included Deployment Workbench. Further detailed guidance and a number of free tools help to walk you through the deployment process while automating much of the deployment process. Microsoft Deployment notably provides predefined task sequence templates that support the implementation of multiple client and server deployment scenarios.
Windows Vista operating system images are typically around three to four times larger than Windows XP images. If you are deploying an operating system image to hundreds of targeted computers, the old model of one OS image sent per targeted computer can take its toll on the network. For example, one 4GB image to 100 computers requires 400GB of data to pass over the network.
With multicast support available in updated Windows Server 2008 Windows Deployment Services (WDS), you can drastically eliminate the number of times that OS image is passed over the network. The new system allows targeted PCs to join at any phase in the file transfer. Further, any files missed at the beginning of the transfer can be applied in a second loop of the process. Using our 100 computer example, multicasting can eliminate the previous 400GB load in many cases to an 8GB to 16GB load over the wire.
Updates to Trivial File Transfer Protocol (TFTP) used with WDS, reduce network congestion and control data flow compared to other multicast solutions. This feature will save you time, bandwidth and help ensure other services are running as needed.
Microsoft Deployment offers detailed project management guidance and job aids for all deployment roles. It also separates technical documentation for the products and technologies to facilitate automation tasks. Tasks are divided into logical groupings and tools are provided where automation is required. Microsoft Deployment provides project management knowledge and tool integration. For example, you can receive end-to-end guidance and tools for application compatibility tasks and compatibility mitigation strategies. The Application Management Feature Team Guide provides tools and processes for discovering, prioritizing, and testing applications.
To assist with the integration of key tasks and team collaboration, Microsoft Deployment provides individualized tools and guidance specifically designed for many of the roles in the deployment process, including Release Management, Infrastructure Remediation, Image Engineering, Application Management, Migration, Security, Deployment, Operations Readiness, and Testing. Job aids and templates are provided for Deployment Business Case, Project Plan, Vision Scope, Functional Specification, Assessment Template, Inventory Template, Test Plan, Pilot Plan, Migration Plan, Risk Plan, Training Plan, and Communications Plan.
In total, Microsoft Deployment brings significant automation and guidance to the task of building and deploying OS images. While no tool will make the complex task of updating the desktop infrastructure easy, we believe that Microsoft Deployment helps make the project more manageable and reliable.
For up-to-date news, tips, workarounds and fixes, be sure to visit the Microsoft Deployment Team Blog at http://blogs.technet.com/msdeployment.
© 2008 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Microsoft, Windows, Windows Server and Windows Vista, are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.