Keith Combs' Blahg

Ramblings from another nerd on the grid

Multicast imaging support coming to Longhorn Server

Multicast imaging support coming to Longhorn Server

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Lets face it, our new deployment tools rock.  However, one significant customer feature request has been missing from the portfolio.  Every time I do a deployment tool session around ImageX, BDD, WAIK, etc., the question of multicast support comes up.  And the answer until today is we don't have multicast support.

Well, we now have multicast support checked into the build tree for Longhorn Server.  It will be tightly integrated into the Longhorn Server Windows Deployment Services (WDS) role.

We'll release the bits on a very limited basis this month to some customers via an IDS build, with much broader availability as we drop Beta 3 from airplanes.  For those of you with subscriptions to TechNet Plus Online, you'll get the goodies early. 

Want more details?

  • New MGMT tasks in the WDS MMC and WDSUTIL
  • New WDS Client UI page indicating multicast transmission
  • Real-time multicast client view + ability to remove clients from a transmission via WDS MGMT tools
  • Real-time transmission progress / monitoring via WDS MGMT tools
  • Installation logging and reporting via Crimson to the application logs (read: this is how you can get installation metrics / tracking!)
  • Ability to install a “stand-alone” WDS multicast server complete with MGMT tools (command-line via WDSUTIL) and CMD-line client

Imagine “always on” multicast where clients can request an image at any point in time and trigger a new multicast deployment or join mid-transmission to an existing deployment and still receive all the data. The WDS Team built a brand-new multicast protocol to handle both scenarios that has congestion control and flow control, making it more “TCP-like” and able to play well on production networks without saturating links and interfering with existing traffic.

Extensibility points were strongly considered in the architectural solution and were built into the client, server, and MGMT toolset's. Also, the ability to perform ImageX multicast deployments without requiring full-blown WDS or Active Directory are enabled. Complete with a CMD-line multicast client app that can run within Longhorn Server Windows PE, Windows Vista, Windows XP SP2, and Windows Server 2003 SP2 and easy set-up or configuration on the WDS Server.

There's other stuff I'm not going to divulge at this time, but as you can see, we have some killer code on the way.

Deployment drool !!!

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  • If you have used multicast to image computers in the past you know it can be much faster than unicast,

  • Microsoft's tools for imaging are great and come at a great cost -- free. But, their one biggest limitation that usually drives people to 3rd party solutions is the limitation on the number of hosts you can image at once -- one. According to Keith Combs'