Friday, April 15, 2016

Enhancing WDS with the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT)

The Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) is a free tool that can be downloaded from Microsoft to assist you with Operating System Deployment (OSD) and is often used in conjunction with Windows Deployment Services (WDS) and System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM). It can also be used on its own. It this article we'll be looking at using MDT with WDS.

Download and install the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT)

Get started by downloading the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) from here. We're using the MDT 2013 Update 2 version in this article. You'll also need to download the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK). We're using Windows ADK for Windows 10, Version 1511 which you can download here.

After downloading both of these tools, install MDT and when you go to install Windows ADK, we recommended selecting the following option in the picture below.

Creating the Deployment Share

The deployment share is a network share on your Windows network that hosts all of your deployment resources. You interact with your deployment share through the MDT Deployment Workbench and you can have multiple deployment shares on your Windows network.

Start by creating an empty network share on your Windows network for example, \\\DeploymentShare$. Make sure you have write permission to this share and that anyone you wish to be able to deploy from it has permission to read it.

Start the MDT Deployment Workbench and in the left pane, right-click on the Deployment Shares node and select New Deployment Share. The first screen you will be presented with will ask you to specify the path to your deployment share. Replace the default path of C:\DeploymentShare with the path to your network share. When you complete the wizard, MDT will begin populating the network share with some default deployment resources.

Configuring the Deployment Share

Before you can start deploying Windows from your deployment share, you need to configure your deployment share by adding deployment resources and creating task sequences. Deployment resources includes things like operating system installers, drivers, applications and Windows updates. Task sequences allow you to specify what happens on a step-by-step basis during an operating system deployment.

Deployment resources and task sequences are configured and managed through the MDT Deployment Workbench. There is a lot you can configure that we're not going to cover here in this article but the best way to learn is to have a play and explore. One thing we do recommend you configure is the rules for your deployment share which can be accessed by right-clicking on your deployment share in the Deployment Workbench and then selecting Properties and then the Rules tab.

We've added the property DeployRoot=\\\DeploymentShare$. MDT has a bunch of other properties you can add that you'll have to find and discover.

Generating a boot image for your Deployment Share and adding it to WDS

After you have configured your deployment share, the next step is to actually perform a deployment. In the Deployment Workbench, right-click on your deployment share and select Update Deployment Share. Complete the wizard to generate new boot images for your deployment share.

One the wizard completes, your boot images will be located in a subdirectory called Boot in your deployment share. For example \\\DeploymentShare$\Boot. Select the appropriate boot image from this folder and upload it to your WDS server. If configured correctly, any computer that performs a network boot from your WDS server will now download the MDT boot image. This boot image will then connect to your deployment share allowing you to select which task sequence to run for your deployment.