There’s a good technical post over on Chris Adam’s blog about how to dynamically provision customized virtual machines by using System Center Virtual Machine Manager and unattend.xml. The unattend.xml file is used in combination with a sysprep’d image and applies customization (things like computer name, installed roles, etc) that are specified in the XML file. Chris’s post explains how this can be done very easily in VMM.
This post was timely as I have been working on some unattended installations and other automation for a customer I am working with. With all the focus on the back and forth with competitors at the virtualization layer, it almost seems like the workload and configuration inside the VM is “getting no respect”.
In any event, the unattended installation realm can be intimidating at first. There are multiple ways of accomplishing most tasks, there is an enormous amount of things in Windows that can be customized, etc. Microsoft makes a large number of resources available such as the Windows Automated Installation Kit, Microsoft Deployment Toolkit, etc. There are beta updates to these for Win7, R2, etc. that can be found on Bing.com.
For a very detailed treatment on all of these topics, check out the Deploying Vista series over on WindowsNetworking.com Most of the content is the same for Windows 2008 servers as well. This article on Technet is quick and direct step-by-step guide for a basic automated installation. Between the info Chris provided and some of these resources, you’ll be well on your way to dynamic VM provisioning.