There is never enough automation


When I first started in IT, I worked with a team of people to do very repetitive tasks as a DBA.  Fortunately, a few of those people had the right idea:  With enough automation, we can eliminate the need for our jobs.  Now that might sound like a career mistake, but what you quickly realize is that if you get rid of the mundane, you can move on to something more interesting – and there’s always something more interesting.  After a few years, we were to that point, and then we started bringing order to PCs.

Fast forward a few years and the same idea was applied to MDT:  There’s no such thing as too much automation.  And even now, I still have to remind myself of that.

Case in point:  I needed to do some larger-scale testing, which is great with virtual machines.  And since it’s very simple to create fully-functional VMs from a ready-to-go, patched VHDX file using PowerShell, I created those VMs in just a few minutes and let them churn for a while after they started out.  But it seemed like “too much work” to also automate the configuration of those VMs – all I needed to do after all was rename and join a domain.  But instead of a little more PowerShell to inject a configured unattend.xml into each VM, I thought “no, I’ll do it manually later.”  Well, that was a bad idea:  I spent hours configuring the VMs, connecting to each one, completing OOBE, logging in with a local account, opening up the computer settings, changing the computer name, joining the domain, and rebooting.  All because I didn’t want to spend an hour or so on a little more scripting.

In any case, I thought someone might be interested in the PowerShell script to create a batch of VMs, which I cobbled together from various other samples on the web:

$parentpath = "E:\VMs\10240.x64.ClientBase.vhdx"
$path = "E:\VMs\"

foreach ($i in 1..20)
{
  $suffix = $i.ToString("000")
  $vmname = "CLONE-$suffix"

  #create a VHDX – differencing format
  $vhdpath = "$path\$vmname Disk 0.vhdx"
  New-VHD -ParentPath $parentpath -Differencing -Path $vhdpath

  #Create the VM
  New-VM -VHDPath "$vhdpath" -Name $vmname -Path "$path" -SwitchName "Lab" -Generation 2

  #Configure Dynamic Memory
  Set-VMMemory -VMName $vmname -DynamicMemoryEnabled $True -MaximumBytes 2GB -MinimumBytes 1GB -StartupBytes 1GB

  #Start the VM
  Start-VM $vmname
}

You might need to tweak it (with proper paths, the name of your Hyper-V network switch, etc.  But that’s the easy part.

Next time, I’ll add the logic to inject an unattend.xml to automate OOBE, name the computer, and join the AD domain…

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