Chris Henley is a fun and energetic representative of Microsoft. He works on the Developer Platform Evangelist team at Microsoft as an IT Professional Evangelist in the western region and is the co-author of Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 Administration Instant Reference from Sybex press. Chris is a regular speaker and presenter at user groups, Technet events, and major conferences around the US.
He has extensive experience in the world of computer networks. He is passionate about the way that technology helps people. He has an entertaining and insightful style of communicating technical information and of making difficult concepts easy to understand. He is an expert in server architecture and network design. He loves to push the envelope of what we think about computers, and what software can do. Chris spends his spare time playing XBOX360 with his wife and kids, fly fishing, camping, hiking, and searching for the best chocolate cake on planet earth.
One of the best things about my role here at Microsoft is that I have access to some great training materials with a lot of really good technical details. I have been getting so many great questions lately about Operating system Deployments with Windows Vista I thought I would try something new with my BLOG. So what I am going to do is start to share with you some of the great training notes I use when I do my webcasts. We are going to begin with a discussion of Windows Deployment Services. If I put up all of the notes at once it would be one huge blog post so we will post a little at a time and let you work through each component of WDS. Fasten your seatbelts here we go.
A (brief ) History of Microsoft Operating System Deployment.
First, we are going to give an introduction to WDS. To provide a “big picture” view, we will give a history of operating system deployment, leading up to WDS. Just because WDS is the newest deployment solution, you may wonder, “Where’s the benefit in using it over the previous solutions?” So, we will address that as well.
WDS takes advantage of the Windows Imaging, or WIM, file format. To prepare for the technical overview later in the session, we will also give you a general overview of this file format.
WDS is actually made up of several components to form a unified deployment solution. We will explore each of these components to see how they interact.
The management component of WDS is simplified to provide an easy solution for administrators. Lowering the total cost of ownership provides great advantages for the entire organization. In this section of the session, we will show how using the simplified management with WDS will allow companies to reap these benefits.
For many years, Microsoft has offered solutions for script-based installation. For example, WinNT32 offers the ability to customize your installation through various answer files. However, we began to recognize that customers typically use this technology once to capture their system and then do mass deployments using images.
Next, the introduction of the Remote Installation Services or RIS Server, which supported script- or file-based deployment. The file-based images were managed on the RIS server. This worked with Windows 2000 to install a local copy of the operating system to other computers from remote locations. With RIS, a client computer would contact a DHCP server for an IP address and then contact a boot server to install the operating system.
Next, Automated Deployment Services, or ADS, introduced a sector-based image format. ADS is an add-on to Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition that provided a solution for deploying Windows Server operating systems. With support for script-based mass server administration, ADS also enables administrators to administer hundreds of servers as if they were one. The ADS solution was administrator-initiated, whereas the RIS server deployment was user-initiated.
Then Microsoft released the XP Embedded product, which was also sector-based but was specific to deploying embedded devices.
There were various design goals around how to build an image format and what needed to be enabled within that format. First, there needed to be a unified format that could be used across all Windows deployment solutions.
With this in mind, we developed the Windows Image Format. This WIM image format is hardware-agnostic, meaning that you need only one image to address many different hardware configurations.
File-based means there isn’t any disk or file system structure information stored within the imaging format. All interaction with the image, such as capturing and applying the image, occurs through the physical disk’s file system.
Storing redundant data within an image uses up disk space, so the goal with the new Windows Image format was to reduce the need to store this redundant data.
The WIM image format can also store multiple images within one file, making image management easier and saving disk space. A situation where you might want to have multiple images would be if you wanted to have an image that contains the Windows Vista operating system and another image that contains the organization’s core applications. You can also mark one of the images as bootable, allowing you to start a computer from a disk image contained in a WIM file.
Historically, there have been three overlapping solutions with dissimilar infrastructures and gaps in functionality. New releases of these solutions were used to address critical short-term SMS and ADS needs. However, the same problems still existed.
The goals of the new releases of deployment solutions revolve around unifying the infrastructure. This was accomplished by consolidating into two clearly differentiated solutions.
SMS has been designed for medium and large organizations with advanced scenarios, and ADS scenarios have been largely incorporated into SMS. Remote Installation Services, or RIS, was the original in-box solution for operating system deployment. But it had its own problems and limitations. The most immediate was the fact that there wasn’t support for Windows Vista deployments. Other problems included a lack of management tools, minimal localization and accessibility, and fragmentation of Microsoft Pre-boot Execution Environment, PXE, boot strategy.
Windows Deployment Services is the updated and redesigned version of RIS. It assists with the rapid adoption and deployment of Windows operating systems. It can be used to set up new computers through a network-based installation without having to be physically present at each computer and without having to install directly from CD media.
The WDS platform was designed for medium and large organizations, and core OEM scenarios.
WDS was developed to deliver a great ‘in-box’ operating system provisioning solution, while also providing platform components to enable custom solutions.