How to: Create and deploy VHD’s with Configuration Manager 2012 R2 Preview #sysctr

With Windows Server 2012 R2 preview, Windows 8.1 preview, SQL Server 2014 and System Center 2012 R2 preview Microsoft announced at TechEd Europe 2013 big updates of there current server, client and management software and continues there cloud vision.

So on with Configuration Manager 2012 R2 – which includes many new features and product improvements. One of my favorites is creating VHD’s! Running your task sequences directly into a VHD. No need to capture your images – just straight into the system..that’s make sense.

Before starting…

In order to create VHD’s with Configuration Manager 2012 R2 take care of the following:

  • Hyper-V – You have to makes sure your console is installed on a machine where Hyper-V role is enabled, otherwise the option remains greyed-out in your console.
  • VMM 2012 SP1/R2 console – Virtual Machine Manager console is required in order to upload VHD’s into VMM.
  • Disk space – Make sure you have enough space on your machine where you are running the VHD creation process. A temp VHD will be created to your temp directory (C:\Users\<user-ID\AppData\Local\Temp).
  • Windows ADK 8.1Required for the creating and maintaining WIM-, ISO- and VHD files.

Lets get started…

  • Just start the Configuration Manager 2012 R2 Preview console and browse to the Operating Systems pane.

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  • In preparation of creating a VHD we create first a new Task Sequence based on the new template ‘Install an existing image package to a virtual hard drive’

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  • Provide the usual suspects like name, description, boot image as you used to be with a normal Task Sequence

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  • When finished the Task Sequence we can proceed with the Create Virtual Hard Drive Wizard (only enabled when Hyper-V role is installed on the machine where you are running the Configuration Manager 2012 R2 console).

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  • Now we select the Task Sequence which we created previously which contains a Boot Image (x64), Windows 8 OS image and the Configuration Manager 2012 Client Package. This Task Sequence can be configured with all the requirements/needs for your image.

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  • When finished the wizard the process of creating a VHD based on your create Task Sequence has started.

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  • To have a closer look of the VHD creation process use the DeployToVHd.log which is depending where you installed the console – by default located at ‘C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Configuration Manager\AdminConsole\AdminUILog’

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    • In general a boot media (iso) is created followed by creating a temp VHD. Then a VM is created attached with the temp VHD and boot media.

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    • When the VM’s comes online the usual Task Sequence process is executed.

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    • When finished the Task Sequence process the machine is prepped and will be switched of after 5 minutes (shutdown -s -t 300), so be patient Smile

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    • At this stage our VHD is ready and will be copied to a destination file share which is previously defined in the task sequence.

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    • The created VHD including a default installation of Windows 8 is now available in the console. Equal to Offline Servicing of WIM files the VHD can be serviced offline as well. which is pretty awesome!

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    • Additional to Offline Servicing VHD’s can be uploaded straight to Virtual Machine Manager in order to used VHD for provisioning VM machines based on the VHD created by Configuration Manager 2012 R2

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    Note! Integration between Configuration Manager 2012 R2 preview and Virtual Machine Manager 2012 SP1 nor R2 preview seems not to be working at this stage.

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    Conclusion…

    Creating VHD’s is a great feature which is more than welcome addition to Configuration Manager 2012 R2. It improves the desktop imaging process for IT-pros. No more capture steps just straight into the VHD. A improvement point is the lack of support for VHDX, but that is just a matter of time I guess.

    Someone dropped a quote on Twitter this week: ‘With flexibility comes complexity” …well this is an exception to the rule Winking smile

    Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2012 Update 1 Beta 1—Now Available for Download

    We are pleased to announce that Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) 2012 Update 1 Beta 1 is now available for download!

    Download MDT 2012 Update 1 Beta 1 now! [http://connect.microsoft.com/site14/Downloads/DownloadDetails.aspx?DownloadID=8689]

    Download the latest release to stay up-to-date on your deployment needs. New features and enhancements make large-scale desktop and server deployments smoother than ever!

    This release expands your deployment capabilities with support for the latest software releases, including Windows 8 Release Preview, Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate, and System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP1 Community Technology Preview.

    Notable new features include:

    · Support for using the DaRT 8 Beta with the Windows 8 Release Preview version of the Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK).

    · New “Build Your Own Pages” support for User-Driven Installation (UDI), enabling IT pros to create new wizard panes using simple drag-and-drop operations – no coding required.

    · Integration with System Center Orchestrator, enabling task sequences to invoke Orchestrator runbooks at any point in the deployment process.

    · Completely reworked “Roles and Features” logic, supporting both installation and removal, as well as providing a new Lite Touch wizard pane for selecting roles and features to install at deploy time.

    · Support for PowerShell 3.0 to make it easier to run PowerShell scripts inside task sequences on Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, and Windows PE 4.0.

    · Simple monitoring functionality for Configuration Manager task sequences, leveraging the monitoring capabilities provided initially in MDT 2012 for Lite Touch deployments.

    · Improved “boot from VHD” deployment capabilities, supporting both bare metal and refresh deployments.

    Learn more

    Visit the MDT home page: http://www.microsoft.com/MDT [http://www.microsoft.com/MDT]

    Get the latest news straight from the MDT team: http://blogs.technet.com/b/msdeployment/ [http://blogs.technet.com/b/msdeployment/]

    MDT works with the Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit and Security Compliance Manager to help you plan, securely deploy, and manage new Microsoft technologies—easier, faster, and at less cost. Learn more at http://www.microsoft.com/solutionaccelerators [http://www.microsoft.com/solutionaccelerators].

    Using Collection Variables on collections and sub-collections #sysctr #sccm

    Using Configuration Manager collection variables be aware these variables set on parent collections aren’t inherented by sub-collections.

    Based on a scenario of multiple Divisions and underlaying Departmental collections structure workstations are deployed by Configuration Manager OS-Deployment. Two variables will be used to automatic determine the OU path. Workstations will be joined to Active Directory (AD) and dynamicaly placed in the correct Organizational Unit (OU).

    LDAP://OU=WORKSTATION,OU=%DEP%,OU=%DIV%,DC=CONTOSO,DC=COM

    Collection variables can be configured two ways: 

    1. Both Division and Department variables are configured on a single collection where the clients are member off.
    2. Division variable to parent collection and Department variable on sub-collection. Clients should be member of both collections.

    Both Division and Department variables are configured on a single collection where the clients are member off.  Division variable to parent collection and Department variable on sub-collection. Clients should be member of both collections.

    Use the Collection Variables tab of the Configuration Manager 2007 Collection Name Settings dialog box to define custom task sequence variables and their associated values to be used by the resources in this collection. For more information about task sequence variables use the following link: About Task Sequence Variables

    Tip for SCCM 2012 Product Team feature request enabling collection variable equals advertisement applies to sub collections!