Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Automated Deployment Services

I recently have had the opportunity to learn and use Microsoft Automated Deployment Services package in my environment. Let me say that I have beat my head against a wall countless times trying to learn all the nuances involved with it. Over the past month or so I have setup a master image using Sysprep and have used ADS to deploy the image to Dell's new PoweEdge model (2950).

Some of the issues I ran into were getting Sysprep's .inf file configured correctly with the latest mass storage drivers, getting the drivers loaded into the ADS Controller repository (located in C:\Program Files\Microsoft ADS\nbs\repository\User\PreSystem directory) so that ADS will be able to image the server and making a working .XML file that is used to tell ADS what image to use and what variables to define.

Order of operations is something like this:

- Create master image (do not add to domain and do not set admin password)
- Sysprep master image (use deployment tools - get latest version of the .cab from MS website)
- Boot freshly sysprepped image to the Deployment Agent (using ADS after taking control of the end machine)
- Capture image using modified sample .XML task sequence
- Create and customize new .XML task sequence for deploying image
- Test new image by deploying your captured image to test machine using the ADS Controller

Make sure you include all drivers needed when preparing your master image prior to capturing. You WILL NOT be able to add the drivers to the image later contrary to popular belief. Also keep in mind you might need to edit the .inf driver files (ex: oemsetup.inf) in your ADS Controller repository if you are using multiple images for multiple Mass Storage Drivers.

I found an EXCELLENT article from Microsoft that should answer any other questions anyone might have. Click HERE

Have a good one!!

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