Deployment is, in my opinion, the life's blood of a system administrator. If done properly, it can vastly simplify the process of getting new equipment into the hands of users, while allowing for a smoother upgrade cycle for preexisting equipment. It also allows for standardization, establishing a baseline upon which the systems are managed after they leave IT's hands.
However, when not performed properly the foundation underlying the initial installation and subsequent management will be shaky (at best) and downright unstable (at worst), making things much more difficult than they need to be. And of course, that means more work for IT to make things right.
SEE: Windows Server 2016 TP5: Feature-complete and on track for RTM (Tech Pro Research)
To ease the deployment process, Microsoft created the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) in 2010 and has been updating it to support newer versions of Windows as they're released. MDT acts as a data store for the various operating systems and drivers in use on the equipment supported in your enterprise. It can also serve as a centralized repository for any software applications, patches/hotfixes, and customized settings you may want to deploy alongside the OS and drivers in one fell swoop.
The application works in conjunction with Windows Deployment Services (WDS), which provides PXE booting services over the network and handles the unicast and multicast streams when deploying 1-to-1 or 1-to-many. Beyond those functions, MDT handles all the heavy lifting with scripts and customizable tasks that allow certain functions to occur depending on your specific needs at the time of deployment.
Before we head into the installation and initial setup process for MDT, there are a few requirements to adhere to:
- Server with Windows Server 2008 (or later) installed
- DHCP Service running on the network
- DNS Service running on the network
- Windows 10 ADK (x86/x64)*
- MDT 2013 Update 2 (x86/x64)*
- Administrative credentials on the server
- Broadband internet access
*NOTE: These applications are offered as 32-bit and 64-bit versions. While the 64-bit version will allow for both 32/64-bit software, the 32-bit version will allow only for 32-bit software, including OSes.
Now on to the installation process. I'll break it down into a few steps since MDT is dependent on other apps to be installed first.
Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit for Windows 10
Launch the ADK installer and ensure that there's adequate storage space available (Figure A). ADK must download additional components from Microsoft's servers for MDT to function properly. Click Next to proceed.
The next two screens are the Microsoft's Windows Privacy statement (Figure B) and EULA statement (Figure C). Choose whether to participate and then accept the EULA by clicking Accept.
On the wizard's features screen, you can check/uncheck the boxes for the features you want to retain. The necessary ones are selected in Figure D. However, selecting all the boxes will give you access to additional features that may be useful in the future.
After you click the Install button, the process will begin (Figure E). Depending on your ISP speeds, this process can take from a few minutes to hours. Once the install is complete, close the confirmation window (Figure F).
Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2013 Update 2
Launch the MDT installer and click Next on the welcome screen (Figure G). On the following wizard screen, accept the EULA and click the Next button (Figure H).
On the features screen, leave the entries as is and select Next to continue (Figure I).
The Customer Experience Improvement Program (Figure J) reports information to Microsoft for use in resolving issues and providing a better overall user experience. Your decision to join or not join the community will not affect how MDT functions or the features available to you. Select the desired radio button and click the Next button.
When you're ready to begin the installation, click the Install button (Figure K). The process is relatively quick and should run only a few minutes. When it's completed, click the Finish button to close the wizard (Figure L).
Microsoft Deployment Toolkit is fully installed, as are the dependencies that are included with the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit installation. But before it is ready to be of any use, you must configure it—and then you should be able to add the necessary operating system(s), driver(s), and application(s) to support your corporate environment.
In the weeks to come, I'll offer a step-by-step look at how to deploy and capture custom images and explain certain advanced settings and features through a series of articles that are aimed at helping you get the most out of your MDT deployment setup.
- How to get started with Windows Deployment Services
- How to automate account pre-staging in WDS with PowerShell
- Microsoft creates new Windows Insider MVP program
- The Windows 10 roadmap provides in-depth details on Device Guard and Credential Guard
Have you set up the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit? How well did it work for you? Share your experiences and advice with fellow TechRepublic members.
Jesus Vigo is a Network Administrator by day and owner of Mac|Jesus, LLC, specializing in Mac and Windows integration and providing solutions to small- and medium-size businesses. He brings 19 years of experience and multiple certifications from several vendors, including Apple and CompTIA.