Deployment mechanisms for Windows Server products has been a touchy topic over the years. Many administrators find various requirements warranting a by-hand installation, but the time cost and configuration inconsistencies are something that a deployment solution can address. Further, other mechanisms such as virtual machine cloning can get the job done but are not a native solution to the operating system. This is where Windows Deployment Services (WDS) can step in to fill the gap.
Regardless of the quantity of Windows Server 2008 systems that are installed, it is a good time to get a WDS implementation configured and running correctly. Windows Server 2008 offers many appealing new features to the server administrator, such as the GlobalNames zone, hard drive size changes made easy, and enhanced scheduled task functionality. On the other side of the fence, Web developers are anxious to get Web applications tested and deployed on some of the new features of IIS 7, which is available only on Windows Server 2008.This impending demand is why WDS needs to be in place and ready when the time comes. WDS exists as a server role and is easily installed from the Server Management console. Figure A shows the WDS role being added. Figure A
Once the role is installed, there are a few planning points that you need to configure before a system is ready to receive the image from the WDS server. These include DHCP scope options and image file management from the Windows installation media. Or you can choose to use the Unattended Installation option; this install uses a special file, unattended.xml, to be linked to an image.
Take the time to invest in WDS, at least in an experimental capacity to make the server build process a non-event as environments migrate from Window Server 2003 to Windows Server 2008.
More information on WDS can be found at the TechNet Web site.
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Rick Vanover is a software strategy specialist for Veeam Software, based in Columbus, Ohio. Rick has years of IT experience and focuses on virtualization, Windows-based server administration, and system hardware.