Multicast OS Deployments – At Last (and in-the-box with Windows Server 2008)

One of the gazillion new and improved features of the soon to be released Windows Server 2008 is that we now have the ability to perform enhanced multicasting when deploying OS images right out of the box.  The new Windows Deployment Services (WDS) will now support an enhanced multicast feature which will allow you to multicast out your Windows OS's from Windows Server 2008.  This is not 'new' news as I believe we have documented that this will be a feature for quite some time, but one that I feel is overlooked given all of the other many features of the new product. 

There will be two types of multicast supported:

  • Scheduled-Cast:  This is your traditional multicast scenario where you can specify a time or certain number of clients requesting an image before a session begins for all at the same time.  You can also start the session manually once all clients are in the 'waiting' state and ready to go.
  • Auto-Cast:  As soon as an allowed client requests an image, a multicast transmission begins.  Other clients can then join this same session in progress and can 'make up' what they missed earlier by dropping back to a unicast session at the end.  To me, this is a pretty cool feature as it allows one to set up an 'always on' multicast session to your environment that can be invoked at any time and by multiple different folks pulling down the same image.  This gives you maximum flexibility and efficient use of bandwidth.  Below is a screen shot from my lab that show two machines on the same multicast session - note the different session times and % complete:


I know that this has been a huge ask from my HED and K12 customers responsible for installing entire labs of machines on a regular basis.  Now we have a solution 'in-the-box' with W08 to address this.  Now all that is left to do is to integrate this multicast functionality with SCCM's OS deployment features - don't worry, this is already being worked on!!!

Comments (4)

  1. Anonymous says:

    Kevin is right, this has already been talked about , but he does a nice job of explaining the two types

  2. Anonymous says:

    Good news. Although personally I am more looking forward to what we’ll get from Scriptlogic. Simply because I’ve been using their Desktop Authority Image Center for about half a year and enjoy its capabilities. The multicast deployments feature made me sure I needed something to manage deployments in our company. In fact there sure was no news about how Windows Longhorn Server 2008 will be named as it was far earlier then May, 17 when we deployed the first set of XP images to our remote office. We’d just opened the new office on the west then and I simply got extremely tired about questions from that side. We were discussing deployments with admins from that were working in the new office so that our chats started to take up a lot of time. We were waffling about user-targeted image deployments, how to make them hardware independent, how to switch between HALs and how to deliver appropriated drivers. That all pressed on us as we needed to maintain several different images of the same OS that we were using for deployment services. You know it yourself how multiple indigested deployments can harm the network performance and stability. Desktop Authority already included bandwidth control and allowed compress them. What I love there specifically, is the ability to moun image and edit it’s contents directly from within the explorer. No hassle with additional command line utilities, etc.

    That doesn’t mean though that I’m not waiting for Windows Server, though. I am looking forward to using it in a virtualization role. We already decided that we need at least one such server for each office. As far as I know, the virtualization component will be available within 180 days after Windows Server 2008 is released to manufacturing. I am a bit disappointed with the latest news about the decision to shift release date from the Q4 of 2007 to the first quarter of the next year. On the other had this will allow them to fix the glitches as even the June CTP had problems with installing GPMC feature.

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