OEM Appliance OOBE update: Set up a 4-node cluster in 30 minutes!

Hi folks, Scott here to talk about a new OEM Appliance OOBE (Out-of-box-experience) update that is now available for Windows Server 2012 and Windows Storage Server 2012. Windows server manufacturers (OEMs) can leverage this deployment tool to help their end-users rapidly deploy new clusters, in as few as 30 minutes from power-on to continuously-available services.

In Windows Server 2012, we included the OEM appliance OOBE to enable our manufacturers to design these custom setup experiences for standalone servers and two node clusters. This included booting the machines, selecting language, keyboard and regional settings, server naming, passwords, joining a domain, preparing shared storage and creating the cluster. The clustered appliances can be deployed from a single pane of glass application running on any one of the nodes.

The Windows team just released KB2769588, and it enables support for 4-node cluster deployments that can optionally include new create a new domain controller and create a virtual switch for Hyper-V wizards. Manufacturers can get the update from the Windows Server OEM redistribution program, and it is on the hotfix server for testing purposes.

Windows package (KB2769588):

4-Node Cluster + DC VM configuration guide:

The original OEM Appliance OOBE configuration guide:

Key Features:

    • OEMs can design 4-node cluster setup experiences using a new dynamic task control that is index based. The OEM-customizable WPF launch-pad application, Initial Configuration Tasks (ICT), supports the new control for configuring X number of tasks based on the index value supplied.
    • IP address discovery now supports as many nodes as you indicate in the registry key.
    • Windows Welcome automation supports multiple cluster nodes.
    • New domain controller setup process allows end-users to create a fresh domain controller in a Hyper-V virtual machine that can be used to support the cluster. After the shared storage is established, we will automatically migrate the DC into CSV storage so it can fail over the domain controller VM to all nodes.
    • A revised configure domain and cluster settings wizard enables users to specify their root domain name, static IP address, cluster management name, machine names and password for all of the nodes of the cluster.

Our tools take care of all the mundane tasks while the customer enjoys a cup of coffee. They won’t sit around long enough for that coffee to cool, because within 30 minutes their entire cluster can be configured and running highly-available or continuously-available services.

Key Scenarios:

Cluster in a box (CiB): OEMs use CiB designs to create a “branch in the box.” “business in a box” or “datacenter in a box.” CiB makes it easy for IT folks to deploy, since there is very little cabling to do and the storage and networking are already connected in the mid-plane. CiB is not required to take advantage of the OEM Appliance OOBE; OEMs can also leverage it for discrete server and storage deployments.

Hyper-V Server appliance: Rapidly deploy 2-, 3- or 4-node clusters for use as a Hyper-V host supporting many VMs.

Storage Server Cluster: Rapidly deploy 2-, 3- or 4-node clusters for use as a storage server that can offer continuously-available NFS, SMB and iSCSI services. Especially useful for saving Hyper-V VMs over SMB 3.0.

Sample Screenshots:

Users can configure all the NICs in all the server nodes from the ICT application:image

The Configure Settings section now includes a new Create virtual switches for Hyper-V wizard:image

The new domain and cluster settings wizard allows users to create a new domain controller virtual machine or use an existing domain:

The Provision Cluster Storage section includes wizards for provisioning shared storage arrays and SANs using iSCSI, Fibre Channel, SAS, ATA, SSD or directly attached JBODs leveraging Windows Storage Spaces:

After the storage is configured, it will begin to appear in the storage section:image


The domain controller setup wizard asks just a few questions about the domain controller:image

And then it asks for the static IP address the user will assign to the domain controller:image

The OEM’s pre-set administrator password is replaced by the end-user:

We display a summary of the selections to the user:

Then we run a massive set of automated tasks, and about 10-15 minutes later you have a new domain controller and all the nodes of the cluster are joined to the domain:

Reboot all nodes:


After the customer clicks “Create,” the wizard verifies a few things:


Then the user can validate and create the cluster:


After running cluster validation, users get a summary of the testing results:

If users click the “view validation testing report” link, they get a nice report:


The user verifies the management name for the cluster:

OEMs can optionally include or remove this page to automatically set up the first highly available (HA) file-server role instance in the cluster.


The user decides which volume to put CSV on and host the domain controller VM on:

We display a summary of the selections to the user:

Finally the Cluster validation and setup wizard finishes the job:



OEM setup guide:
Download the guide here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=38766

Table of contents:
Release Notes. 4
New operations. 4
Known issues. 5
In this release. 6
Four-Node Cluster Setup. 6
Requirements for all configurations. 6
Additional requirements for using a domain controller virtual machine. 6
Setup for Using a Domain Controller Virtual Machine. 8
Customizing the End-User Installation Experience. 9
Appendix A: Registry Entries. 12
Appendix B: Installation File Package. 14
Appendix C: Sample Setup Script 16
Appendix D: Sample Setup Script for a Domain Controller VM.. 19
Appendix E: Sample Unattend.xml for the Domain Controller Virtual Machine. 21
Appendix F: Sample Unattend.xml for Use in the Cluster Nodes. 22

Soon I will be sharing some sample script updates that manufacturers use to customize the OOBE for particular scenarios. I can’t wait to hear your feedback and would love to hear about a cluster you setup using the OEM Appliance OOBE in about 30 minutes!

Scott M. Johnson
Program Manager
Hybrid Storage Services Team
Windows Server