Hey folks! Jeff Gilbert here. It’s no secret that enterprise Windows operating system deployments can be complicated and costly. It can also be very difficult to ensure consistent results with so many different methods and tools available to enterprise desktop administrators these days. Finally, adding to the complexity of operating system deployment is the overabundance of guidance available to you from TechNet to any number of operating system deployment related blogs.
Who do you trust? Which tool do you use when and for what? Wouldn’t it be great if there was a single source of Microsoft best practice recommendations that described how to perform operating system deployments using the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) in a test environment and System Center Configuration Manager in production? Wouldn’t it be great if that content was reviewed by product team and MVP community experts? Wouldn’t it also be a great idea to talk to every day IT Pro desktop administrators and document their real-world feedback before it was published?
I hope you just said yes to all of that, because I’ve spent the past few months writing it and we’ve just published it to TechNet here: Automate and manage Windows operating system deployments.
This solution is meant to show you in a step-wise fashion when and how to use MDT in combination with Configuration Manager to provide both the test and production environment solutions for deploying enterprise operating systems. While there are certainly many different operating system deployment (OSD) methods out there (and they are often interchangeable based on your individual needs), if you are looking for a single recommended path to take in learning about or getting started with operating system deployment, then this is the place to look.
This solution will hopefully finally provide a much needed single source of truth for OSD (and MDT) for IT Pros to reference that combines both engineering team best practices and real-world customer experiences without getting too far into the weeds about specific product versions or very advanced, complicated turns and twists that get so many people confused when learning about OSD.
In this solution, you can learn about the Microsoft best practices and recommendations for subjects like:
- When to use the various operating system deployment methods (MDT standalone, MDT & Configuration Manager, Configuration Manager standalone, or MDT integrated with Configuration Manager) to deploy Windows operating system images.
- What tools and steps should you be following in the test environment to build and test your operating system images?
- What tools and steps should you be following in the production environment?
- Should you create “thin” or “thick” images?
In addition to best practices, you can also learn the basic information needed to get everything set up from scratch as well as a few tips and tricks involved with these processes like:
- A basic overview of MDT and how it is used to create operating system images
- When to deploy 32-bit or 64-bit boot images.
- How to modify deployment share settings stored in the CustomSettings.ini file like the organization name displayed by MDT and advanced logging options.
- How to provide Windows PE network access credentials in the Bootstrap.ini file
So, if you are looking for Microsoft recommendations or just starting out learning the MDT & OSD ropes, hopefully this solution will make a great starting point to look at first without trying to decipher the best path from the multitude of documentation available online.
Jeff Gilbert is a Senior Solutions Content Developer at Microsoft. He authors cross-product solutions to current enterprise IT business problems involving enterprise client management technologies including Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager, Windows Intune, and MDOP from his office outside Boston, MA. In addition to local user groups, Jeff has been a speaker on enterprise client management and MDOP technologies at many conferences over the years including the Microsoft Management Summit Conference and TechEd.