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Automating WDS Image Deployment

SmartDeploy now fully supports OS image capture for deployment using Microsoft's Windows Deployment Services (WDS). Devon's blog does an excellent job of over-viewing the process to capture a WDS compatible SmatDeploy image file. The process is wizard-driven and truly extends the capability of the product.

In a large computer lab settings, it is very desirable for you to be able to automate the deployment wizard using an answer file. For example, some of the large labs I support include upwards of 40 systems of a single hardware type requiring the same platform pack. I will discuss how to integrate an answer file into your SmartPE media to create a fully automated method of deploying a specific SmartDeploy Windows image file to a large number of computers that require the same image with the same platform pack.

Below is a screen shot from the Summary page of the Deployment Wizard. This is step 16 on part 7 of Devon's How To Integrate SmartDeploy With WDS blog.

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Now go ahead an export your answer file using the 'Export' button. Then create a new SmartPE image file using the Media Wizard that incorporates your WDS answer file. This is the screen shot from step 7 of Part 2: How To Integrate SmartDeploy With WDS.

blog9_1.jpg

Click the 'Browse' button to import your WDS answer file. Then complete the wizard creating your new SmartPE media. Now you will have be able to re-import your new SmartPE media containing the answer file into your WDS to further automate image deployment in a lab environment. Similarly, image deployments that require the same Deployment Wizard answers (including the image file and platform pack) could merit their own SmartPE boot image that contains each unique answer file. I recommend naming the PXE boot image a specific file name to make it obvious it contains an answer file and for which configuration (e.g. image file + platform pack + Lab_Name). You should be able to judge how many SmartPE boot images containing various answer files based on the frequency you use an image file and platform pack for deployment. The more frequent you use an image set, the more likely you will want a boot image that answers the wizard questions for you.

Things to keep in mind:

  1. You can use the Platform Manager to combine multiple platform packs which could further limit the number of SmartPE boot images required for your scenario.
  2. If anything needs to change (path to the image file, platform pack, etc.) then you may want to edit the answer file and create a new SmartPE boot image for that different imaging task.
  3. Finally, if you don't specify a platform pack it will automatically integrate one named DEFAULT during the deployment process. By storing platform packs for specific models in the root image directory on your WDS then naming it DEFAULT, you could avoid changing the answer file except in cases of image path differences.

Final thoughts. Integration of WDS is a leap forward for SmartDeploy and image deployment professionals. I welcome more time saving tips and walk-throughs to reach further development our community's best practices with SmartDeploy Enterprise.

Aaron Lines

IT Consultant

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