Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) Overview

To say that today’s IT departments are stretched to capacity is an understatement. Tasked with managing multi-platform environments, increasingly sophisticated security threats, and staying abreast of new technologies means that any opportunity to increase efficiency is more than welcome.

Whether you’re supporting tens or thousands of devices, automation and simplification are key. Let’s consider the scenario where an administrator is faced with upgrading hundreds or thousands of computers to the latest Windows and Office releases. In the dark ages, this would involve toting a box of diskettes from pc to pc and painstakingly loading one client at a time.

But times have changed and the process of applying software updates with it. In order to help automate the deployment process, Microsoft introduced the Microsoft Deployment Kit (MDT).

How can MDT help you? Let’s examine how MDT works and whether it will work for you. We’ll also take a quick look at the installation steps and resources for using MDT.

The Microsoft Deployment Toolkit is a product in the solution accelerator lineup. And how can it help network administrators? In a word, automation. MDT 2010 provides one console with a complete toolset and documentation that will help you deploy both Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 release 2.

The latest release, MDT 2010 Update 1 includes Office 2010 and enhanced Windows 7 driver support. And if you’re in the camp that would like to provide your end user community with greater control and responsibility, the Configuration Manager tool will allow you to give them the ability to initiate and customize their own deployments. The wizard will walk them through the process step-by-step – taking automation to another level.

To use Microsoft Deployment Toolkit, you’ll need the following:

How Does MDT Work?

Most organizations will have a typical stable of software that they deploy. This could include the operating system, hardware device drivers, software patches or updates, and of course, applications. With MDT, you add all of these to the collection of available software – or deployment packages.

The administrator decides which OS and other software should be included in each package, then includes password and product key information. Users will use a custom image called the Windows PE image to boot up (this can also be burned to a CD) and log into the network. They can then install packages from the MDT server.

Microsoft Deployment Toolkit Options

Lite Touch:

  • Deployment without management infrastructure.
  • Process manually initiated by administrator.
  • Uses network shares, Windows Deployment Services, CD/DVD, or USB.
  • For: refresh, upgrade, replace or new computer.

Zero Touch:

MDT Installation and Deployment Configuration

Download the appropriate file for your architecture, then double click the file to launch the installer.

In order to create your deployment configuration you’ll need to do the following:

  1. Create the distribution share
  2. Add operating system files to the share
  3. Create a task sequence for the reference computer
  4. Create a deployment point

MDT Training and Resources

Windows 7 Deployment TrainingRhonda Layfield, Microsoft’s Setup and Deployment MVP, covers MDT and other Windows 7 Deployment tools in-depth in her new Windows 7 Deployment Training. This comprehensive course is currently the only video training course available on the market that covers Windows 7 deployment tools and techniques and includes everything you’ll need to master Windows 7 Deployment while preparing for the 70-681 MCTS exam.

Learn more about Rhonda’s Windows 7 Deployment Training.

For up to date news and information, visit the MDT blog and if you find yourself in need of technical assistance, one of the best places to look for help is the MDT Forum. Forums are an excellent resource as they offer a treasure trove of questions and answers – it’s very likely that someone has experienced a problem similar to yours.

In terms of physical texts, there aren’t many books written on the subject yet, but I found Deployment Fundamentals: Deploying Windows clients using MDT 2010 Lite Touch on Amazon. Rhonda Layfield’s Mastering Windows 7 Deployment will be available is March, 2011 and will also cover MDT along with other Windows 7 deployment options in detail.

Next Steps

I hope you’ve enjoyed this overview of MDT. As a free download, this is a tool certainly worth evaluating. The potential benefits include time savings, greater end user empowerment, and overall simplification of administrative tasks.

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