Microsoft Windows Server 2008 offers a possibility for automatic deployment of Servers and Workstations. This technology is easily configurable and can suite most organisations in terms of Windows Server deployment. In this article we will see what are the components that make up WDS ( Windows Deployment Services ) and we will learn how to successfully install and configure this role. When installing a Windows Server using the Installation Wizard, the Administrator must configure several parameters; with WDS, all these settings can be configured automatically using so called answer files. These are XML file s which contain all settings that a machine must have upon deployment. When the Server Installation process is executed, the wizard will look for the answer file on one of its partitions. The answer file is called autounattended.xml.
One requirement of using Windows Deployment Services is that deployed servers must have a network card which supports PXE. “The Preboot eXecution Environment (PXE, also known as Pre-Execution Environment; sometimes pronounced “pixie”) is an environment to boot computers using a network interface independently of data storage devices (like hard disks) or installed operating systems.” You can find out more information about PXE on Wikipedia.
When the machine is deployed, the PXE network card will automatically discover any available WDS Server and will initiate the Installation process. WDS allows you to store both System image files and answer files thus the whole deployment process is made from a single location. Deployments can be made using either unicast or multicast technologies. Multicast is recommended when deployments are made on multiple machine at the same time.
Before installing WDS on a Windows Server, you will need to make sure the following requirements are met. First, ensure that there is enough space to store the Image files. Another requirement is that you’ll need to host all Servers within Active Directory and also make sure there is a functional DHCP server on the network.
WDS uses Installation images when deploying servers. These images contain the files needed for installing and configuring Windows Server 2008; we will see how to configure Installation images. Note that depending on the Server’s architecture you will need to add Installation images for X64 and/or X86 architectures so you can support them within your network. WDS requires boot images which are used to boot a Server before the actual installation process. With a boot image, and Administrator can choose what Installation file will be used on the deployed Server. For computers that do not support PXE, WDS offers the possibility of using so called Discover Images which are deployed using DVDs or USB devices. A boot image can be created using the capture utility within WDS. This tool will allow Administrators to create an System Image from a Server that was previously deployed. This way, you can create reference images for all Servers ensuring that all machines will follow the same standards and are configured properly.
We will now proceed to the Windows Deployment Service Installation. Open up the Server Manager Console, navigate to the Roles section and click on Add Roles button. From the available roles list, select Windows Deployment Service and proceed to the next section. Note that I’m using a Virtual Machine that hosts ADDS, DNS and DHCP services. You will need these services configured before installing WDS:
Once the setup is completed, navigate to Administrative Tools and open Windows Deployment Services console. Expand the Servers section, right click your Server’s name and select Configure Server. The Server that has WDS installed is automatically added in the console.
In the following section you will need to select the remote installation folder. Under this path you will store the installation and boot image files needed in the deployment process. Note that the selected partition cannot be the System partition and you must use other NTFS partition. I’m using a VM with only one partition so, I will leave the default settings:
I’m using the same machine for hosting WDS and DHCP this is why I will need to configure the WDS Service not to listen on port 67 (DHCP conflict):
We will allow our WDS Server to respond only to known client computers. This means that each Server must be pre-added to Active Directory before the actual deployment process:
Wait until the configuration process is completed then check the Add images to the server now setting and click Finish:
You will need to select the path to your Installation DVD/Image files. This image will be used when deploying a new machine:
In the next section, make sure that the Create an image group named option is selected and add a name for your group:
In the final Review Settings section, you can view the number of installation and boot images that will be transferred on your WDS Server:
Note that in WDS, you can store multiple installation images from different Operating Systems like Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2012, etc. You will add each image using the same process.
Return to the WDS console, navigate to the Multicast Transmission section, right click it and select Create Multicast Transmission:
The Wizard will prompt you to type the name that will identify the multicast transmission. Next, select the newly created Image group. In the following section, we’ll select enable the server to start transmission when a client has requested the image:
Your WDS Server has now been configured to deploy Windows Servers. In the following article I will show you how to deploy a new Server within your network using WDS. Several network requirements will have to be met before we can proceed with the deployment process but, we will cover all aspects in the next post. Hope you’ve understood how to install and configure WDS, for any misunderstandings don’t hesitate to leave a comment. Wish you all the best and stay tuned for the following articles from IT training day.