8 de nov de 2010

Q: What’s your Windows template approach?

Q: What’s your Windows template approach?: "

Once upon a time, I was a Windows Server administrator. Most of my focus was on Windows Server deployment and management. VMware virtualization was a large interest but my Windows responsibilities dwarfed the amount of time I spent with VMware. One place where these roads intersect is Windows templates. Because a large part of my job was managing the Windows environment, I spent time maintaining “the perfect Windows template”. Following were the ingredients I incorporated:

Adobe Acrobat ReaderAdvanced Find & ReplaceBeyond Compare
DiskeeperMS Network MonitorMS Resource Kits
NTSEC ToolsLatest MS RDP ClientSymantec Anti-Virus CE
MS UPHCleanVMware ToolsWindows Admin Pack
Windows Support ToolsWinzip ProSysinternals Suite
Windows Command ConsoleBGINFOCMDHERE
Windows Perf AdvisorMPS ReportsGPMC

Remote Desktop enabledRemote Assistance disabledPagefile
Complete memory dumpDIRCMD=O env. variablePATH tweaks
taskmgr.exe in startup, run minimizedSNMPDesktop prefs.
Network icon in System TrayTaskbar prefs.
C: 12GBD: 6GB
Display Hardware acceleration to Full*
* = if necessary

VMware virtualization is now and has been my main focus going on two years. By title, I’m no longer a Windows Server administrator and I don’t care to spend a lot of time worrying about what’s in my templates. I don’t have to worry about keeping several applications up to date. In what I do now, it’s actually more important to consistently work with the most generic Windows template as possible. This is to ensure that projects I’m working with on the virtualization side of things aren’t garfed up by any of the 30+ changes made above. Issues would inevitably appear and each time I’d need to counter productively deal with the lists above as possible culprits. As such, I now take a minimalist approach to Windows templates as follows:

VMware Tools

C: 20GBVMXNET3 vNICActivate Windows
wddm_video driver*Disk AlignmentDisplay Hardware acceleration to Full*
* = if necessary

In large virtualized environments, templates may be found in various repositories due to network segmentation, firewalls, storage placement, etc. As beneficial as templates are, keeping them up to date can become a significant chore and the time spent doing so eats away at the time savings benefit which they provide. Deployment consistency is key in reducing support and incident costs but making sure templates in distributed locations are consistent is not only a chore, but it is of paramount importance. If this is the scenario you’re fighting, automated template and/or storage replication is needed. Another solution might be to get away from templates altogether and adopt a scripted installation which is another tried and true approach which provides automation and consistency, but without the hassle of maintaining templates. The hassle in this case isn’t eliminated completely. It’s shifted into other areas such as maintaining PXE boot services, maintaining PXE images, and maintaining post build/application installation scripts. I’ve seen large organizations go the scripted route in lieu of templates. One reason could simply be that scripted virtual builds are strategically consistent with the organization’s scripted physical builds. Another could be the burden of maintaining templates as I discussed earlier. Is this a hint that templates don’t scale in large distributed environments?

Do you use templates and if so, what is your approach in comparison to what I’ve written about?

Post from: boche.net - VMware Virtualization Evangelist

Copyright (c) 2010 Jason Boche. The contents of this post may not be reproduced or republished on another web page or web site without prior written permission.

Q: What’s your Windows template approach?

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