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Fine-Tuning MDT Deployments : Working with the MDT Database (part 1) - Creating the MDT Database

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1. Deploying from DVD

Rather than working with deployment shares, you can put all the needed software used to deploy the machine on MDT local deployment media. This media can be a DVD, USB hard disk, or any other portable device. You build the media from the Deployment Workbench and determine what to include when you choose a selection profile. Follow these steps:

  1. Open the Deployment Workbench and browse to Deployment Shares => <your deployment share name> => Advanced Configuration And Media.

  2. From the Actions pane, select New Media to start the New Media wizard.

  3. On the General page, provide the path where the media should be created (make sure this path, including the folder, exists), and choose a selection profile to specify what should be included in the local deployment media. Click Next to continue.

  4. Click Next on the Summary page. The New Media wizard will now start and display its progress on the Progress page.

You can save the status presented on the screen to a log file by selecting Save Output and providing a name to save the output to. You can also view the PowerShell script used to create the local deployment media by selecting View Script. You can later use this script as a basis to create local deployment media automatically. Click Finish to close the Create New Media wizard.

After the New Media wizard has run, you will find its output in the folder that you specified in the Create New Media wizard. After you update the media, the folder contains an ISO file. You can use this file to burn a DVD, or you can mount it to virtual machines in your virtual environment. Whether ISO files are created or not is an option that you specify in the media's properties. When you don't plan to use the ISO, disabling its creation will save a lot of time when the Update Media Content wizard runs.

The folder will also include a directory structure containing the content specified in the selection profile. You can use this directory structure to create a bootable USB drive, for example. Before you do, you should prepare your USB drive as follows:

  1. Insert the USB drive into your computer.

  2. Start a command prompt and type diskpart.exe.

  3. In diskpart, type list disk and determine the disk number associated with your USB drive.

  4. Type the following in diskpart:

    Select Disk x (where x is the number you determined in step 3)
    clean
    create partition primary
    active
    format fs=NTFS quick
    assign
    exit

You can now copy the contents of the Content subfolder to the bootable USB drive, which you can use to boot into the Deployment Wizard.

Using the Media Option in an OEM Preload Scenario

Local deployment media can be used in an OEM preload scenario. In this scenario, the installation of the OS takes place offline by the OEM. Only the steps necessary while connected to the internal network are performed onsite. To do this, you create a task sequence based on the LiteTouch OEM Task Sequence template.

When the OEM starts the created media, it is presented with the OEM Preinstallation Task Sequence For Staging Environment task sequence, which copies the contents of the bootable media to the local hard disk of the computer. The hard disk can then be duplicated by the OEM's hard disk duplication method.

When a machine equipped with a hard disk cloned from the task sequence's output is booted in the internal network, the last part of the installation is performed. Because all media is available locally on the hard disk, the deployment takes place much faster than when deploying from an MDT share on the network.

2. Working with the MDT Database

Within MDT 2010, you have the option to create a database that can serve as a centralized repository for the settings that you specify in the CustomSettings.ini file. Instead of putting the settings in the CustomSettings.ini file, you configure the INI file to query the database for the settings to use.

The settings you specify depend on the following:

  • The settings specified when you defined the computer in the database

  • The location where the computer resides

  • The make and model of the computer

2.1. Creating the MDT Database

Before you start creating the MDT database, you must have a SQL Server available. You should have the sysadmin or dbcreator server roles.

Using SQL Express

You can use the free version of SQL Server, SQL Express, for your MDT database—the MDT database doesn't need all the features of the paid version. Keep in mind, though, that when using SQL Express, the name of the instance you use is SQLEXPRESS. If you use a named instance, you should enable the SQL Browser so that the named instance can be found on the network.


Start by opening the necessary ports on the firewall to enable access to the SQL Browser service:

  1. Open Windows Firewall from the Control Panel and select Allow A Program Or Feature Through Windows Firewall.

  2. Select Allow Another Program, and click Browse to browse to Sq1browser.exe, which you'll find in the \Microsoft SQL Server\90\Shared folder.

  3. On the Allowed Programs And Features screen, ensure that SQL Browser Service EXE is enabled for the network profile you are using—in our example, Domain (since our SQL Server is domain joined).

Now you can create the MDT database using the New DB Wizard:

  1. Open the Deployment Workbench and navigate to Deployment Shares => <your deployment share name> => Advanced Configuration => Database.

  2. From the Actions pane, select New Database to launch the New DB wizard.

  3. Fill in the name of the SQL Server that will host the MDT database and provide the name of the instance if the database is available in an instance other than the default one. Optionally, provide another port number if your SQL Server operates at a port other than the default port (port 1433).

    Also select how you want to connect to your SQL Server, either by using Named Pipes, which is the default, or by using TCP/IP Sockets. Click Next.

  4. On the Database page, select the option to create a new database and provide a name for the new database. Click Next.

  5. When using the Named Pipes option, you must specify a share name to which a connection will be made to ensure that authentication will work. You could, for example, specify a 1ogs$ or any other share you created. Click Next. If you didn't select Named Pipes, then you have the TCP/IP option for which the difference is detailed in the section, "Using TCP/IP or Named Pipes."

  6. On the Summary page, verify the information and click Next.

  7. On the Confirmation page, click Finish to complete the New DB wizard.

Using TCP/IP or Named Pipes to Access the MDT DB

While accessing the MDT database with Windows PE, you cannot use integrated security using an Active Directory username and password if you are connecting to the database using TCP/IP. If you want to use TCP/IP, you must define a local SQL user with a corresponding password. When using named pipes, Windows PE will first make a network connection to the SQL Server, and based on that authentication, the database can be used. That's why you must supply a share name when configuring Named Pipes as the access method.
Other -----------------
- Fine-Tuning MDT Deployments : Creating a Linked Deployment Share (part 2) - Maintaining Linked Deployment Shares
- Fine-Tuning MDT Deployments : Creating a Linked Deployment Share (part 1) - Understanding Linked Deployment Shares
- Working with the User State Migration Tool (part 5) - Getting Extra Mileage Out of the USMT
- Working with the User State Migration Tool (part 4) - Applying the Data and Settings Using LoadState
- Working with the User State Migration Tool (part 3) - Gathering Data by Running ScanState
- Working with the User State Migration Tool (part 2) - Setting Up the Source Computer
- Working with the User State Migration Tool (part 1) - Using the USMT in Four Deployment Scenarios
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