Deploying a server can be incredibly easy, depending on the method you use. With the release of Windows Server 2008 R2, it’s a good time to see if the deployment method you’re using is the right choice given the available options. Virtual machines should now be a realistic player in your data center, and this can impact your deployment mechanism selection.

For most IT environments, deployment of server systems can include the following methods (these are not fully inclusive of ways to install Windows Server); these methods are ranked in order of my preference.

  • Virtual machine template: Adding customization to a pre-established ready-to-go virtual server is likely the quickest deployment option for most environments. For VMware environments, this may only take a few minutes to deploy and customize a server system. This is the most attractive solution to me because not many additional components are required, and it delivers the quickest turnaround.
  • Microsoft automated deployment mechanisms: With the release of Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Vista, many of the automated mechanisms are fully supported across both platforms. This includes Windows Deployment Services and Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2010 and can support features such as PXE boot.
  • Manual deployment via procedure: If you are mostly virtual, building the two or three physical systems per year by hand may not be a bad idea. Chances are, the systems are special in some way that may not fit the mainstream server inventory you support.
  • Cloning: Historically, this was a Sysprep task that was made it easy for Windows Server 2003 and earlier. With Windows Server 2008, traditional cloning is more of a chore and less attractive.

What ways do you deploy Windows Server 2008 R2 and other Windows Server versions? Share your comments.

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