Planning Enterprise Desktop Deployments: Part 3
We have already looked at how you manage your application portfolio using data collected from various tools. Now we have the workings of a deployment plan. In Part 3 we are looking at what tools are available for your proof of concept environment.
Why Proof of Concept?
You may be thinking at this stage why would I bother developing a proof of concept environment only to then move potentially into a pilot environment and then onto a production environment? Well the simple answer is planning, learning and knowledge. With these three things you will certainly have a far better deployment experience than you ever will just heading into it.
It may be that your proof of concept environment is in your corporate lab then you build a pilot environment which will become your production environment or it may be that these are all kept separate, either way it’s important to first test your plans and ideas in a proof of concept. This is your chance to tweak first time with your ideas and formulate a plan which you can take into your pilot deployment.
During your proof of concept you should be looking at all the technologies available to you to complete your project to the goals you have set out, these could be things like; How will I perform BAU rebuilds? How do I backup user state? How do I create deploy applications?
This is what we are going to do, let’s look at some of the technology available to you to assist with your deployment.
Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT)
I have posted previously about MDT but I really cannot give this product enough praise. Even if you are deploying operating systems with ConfigMgr you are not getting the full deployment potential if you are missing out MDT. MDT is a free product which you can download from the Microsoft website and is available for both 32 and 64-bit environments.
When integrated with ConfigMgr MDT gives us so many more options around how we perform our deployment. MDT gives us the ability to work with task sequences to create fully automatic deployments which we call zero touch, deployments with user interaction called lite touch or the happy medium which is a new feature since MDT 2010 Update 1 called UDI or User-Driven Installation. We will be looking at these in more detail along with the deployment methods available to you in part 4.
Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK)
WAIK is again a free tool available for download from the Microsoft website which comes in an ISO format and contains a wide range of tools for managing operating system images, servicing images with patches or updating operating system features and creating the unattend.xml file which will be used for unattended setups of the operating system.
WAIK is installed with ConfigMgr and you can find it in the start menu, to download separately you can find it in the Microsoft Download Center. This link goes to the Windows 7 version of WAIK which is used to assist with deployments of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. The official summary of the product says it all.
The Windows Automated Installation Kit (Windows AIK) is a set of tools and documentation that support the configuration and deployment of Windows operating systems. By using Windows AIK, you can automate Windows installations, capture Windows images with ImageX, configure and modify images using Deployment Imaging Servicing and Management (DISM), create Windows PE images, and migrate user profiles and data with the User State Migration Tool (USMT). Windows AIK also includes the Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT), which enables IT professionals to automate and centrally manage the volume activation process using a Multiple Activation Key (MAK).
To finish off, I cannot say how important it is to do a proof of concept, not only does it prove the technology you are using it also goes a long way to understanding the product better, with more knowledge you can resolve problems easier in the real world when you are under pressure to deploy machines.
As I have mentioned in part 4 we will be looking at the different deployment scenarios within MDT and looking at the differences between LTI, ZTI and UDI deployments, which ones work in which situations.