Introducing the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2008

One of the sessions that I managed to catch at UK customer launch for Microsoft’s 2008 products last week was Julius Davies’ and Jason Stiff‘s presentation on Windows Server 2008 (and Windows Vista) deployment. I recently spent some time brushing up my deployment skills but there have been a few developments since then – not least the rebranding of the Microsoft Solution Accelerator for Business Desktop Deployment (BDD) as Microsoft Deployment.

With Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 now sharing a common codebase, the same techniques can be applied to both client and server deployment. Conseqently, whilst still consisting of a combination of documentation and tools to provide guidance for deployment best practice, the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) 2008 is equally applicable to Windows Vista (including SP1) and Windows Server 2008 (as well as certain downlevel operating system releases) – hence the removal of the emphasis on the business desktop.

As for its previous incarnations (I recently wrote an overview of BDD 2007), Microsoft Deployment 2008 provides for “lite touch” or “zero touch” deployment. Lite touch deployment is primarily about the creation of images for deployment from DVD, using Windows Deployment Services (WDS) or another method. Zero touch deployment relies on Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) to provide a management framework but both use the same core tools (Windows PE, ImageX, etc.).

As with BDD 2007, MDT 2008 includes a deployment workbench with an information center (documentation, news, and components), distribution share (operating system, applications, packages – e.g. language packs, and drivers), task sequences (with major OEMs to provide their own extensions to the XML), and deployment (deployment points and database) – now including multicast support (which even Microsoft note is overdue) using Windows Deployment Services. With the zero touch installation, MDT is used to extend the SCCM site server and provide similar concepts to the deployment workbench, including the ability to import task sequences from MDT and take them further (for example to provide role or feature-based installations).

In terms of roadmap for MDT, an update is expected in June 2008 to support System Center Configuration Manager 2007 service pack 1 as well as enhanced OEM support and further configuration elements. Further out “deployment 5” is expected to include an expanded product knowledge and cater for role based deployments using a “hydration” process for common applications.

Whilst on the subject of deployment, Garry Martin sent me a link to Dan Cunningham’s Workstation Migration Assistant – effectively a wrapper for the Microsoft User State Migration Toolkit (USMT). It looks like it could be a useful tool in the migration engineer’s arsenal – The Deployment Guys have more information on their blog.

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