MDT Lab Builder
“When life knocks you down try to land on your back. If you can look up, you can get up.”
Last Fall Microsoft announced that they were discontinuing the TechNet subscription service. Needless to say that honked off a lot of IT-Pros, myself included. On top of that nobody at Microsoft seemed to be either explaining why or answering the concerns of subscribers. The company line was to just use the evaluation software. My argument was that I didn’t have the time to spin up a full lab every 180 days or so.
(Looking back that does seems a little whinny.)
It is true though. Balancing work, family and my crazy hobby of computers. 🙂
So what I decided to do was to stop complaining and do something. I may not be able to build a permanent lab in the future (System Center v.NEXT) so the best thing would be to automate building one using eval software. I borrowed heavily from the Hydration kits that Johan Arwidmark has created and several components from Mikael Nystrom. (Okay, I’ll admit I outright plagiarized a lot of it.)
What I tried to do was to take the best of what was out there and pull it all together into an MDT environment that would not only build the lab servers but also configure and stage them. For example, it would not only build an SCCM 2012 primary site server, but also distribution point servers which would automatically be added to the SCCM hierarchy. I’m also tried to make it modular, so if you want to change IP addresses or the domain name for example you just change it in one place and my scripts will take care of the rest.
Anyway, that was my original goal.
I asked Johan and Mikael if I could share what I had “created” and they graciously agreed. I then started looking at what it was exactly that I had created and it didn’t seem right. It really wasn’t more than their work with some added scripts and some name changes.
That just didn’t sit right with me. I decided that if I’m going to do this I need to do it right. I need to create something worthwhile and significant. I needed to push myself and learn something new.
So I’ve started over. What did I really want to accomplish using this? What would make it easier for others to use? From there I started working out what I thought would be the best way to do that. What I will be sharing is a modular lab builder. It will still use MDT and there will be pieces that you recognize from Johan and Mikael’s work, but it will be something different, something flexible and expandable.
It will be modest to begin with, but I will expand upon it. For example, I would like to create multiple subnets, include Nomad Branch and PXELite from 1E, allow creating an SCCM 2007 and/or 2012 environment, etc. I also would like to add in some training work, some hands-0n labs. Maybe stage up some workstations to do USMT hard-link migrations? That sort of thing. As I firm up my vision for how it will work I’ll create a dedicated page for all the deep-dive details.