Ever since Deployment Solution for Dell Servers burst upon the scene, it has been the tool of choice for IT administrators who want a worry-free deployment and maintenance tool for Dell hardware. Now with Deployment Solution for Dell Servers version 3.1 released and built upon the Deployment Solution version 6.9, Dell server management has never been easier.
This article provides a high level overview of the enhancements made since version 3.0 and 3.0SP1 of Deployment Solution for Dell Servers, including a few tips and tricks on how to use these new features.
Table of Contents
- Expanded Hardware Support
- Basic Jobs
- Job Builder
- Running Dell Update Packages in Linux Automation (also available in 3.0 SP1)
- Possibilities with Customized WIMs
Section I: Dell OpenManage Toolkit version 2.5
Deployment Solution for Dell Servers utilizes the Dell OpenManage Toolkit to configure Dell hardware and expanded support of the toolkit reflects to more options for IT Administrators using Deployment Solution for Dell Servers.
The Dell OpenManage Toolkit version 2.5 supports the following server models (models in bold are models newly supported since version 2.3 shipped with Deployment Solution for Dell Servers 3.0):
650, 1600SC, 1650, 1655MC, 2600, 2650, 4600, 6600, 6650, 700, 750, 1750, 800, 830, 840, 850, 860, 1800, 1850, 1855, 2800, 2850, 6800, 6850, 1900, 1950, 1955, 2900, 2970, 6950, SC1435, 2950, T105, R200, R900, M600, M605, T605, R300, and T300.
Version 2.5 also supports the following RAID controllers (controllers in bold are newly supported since version 2.3 shipped with Deployment Solution for Dell Servers 3.0):
PERC 4/SC, PERC 4/DC, PERC 4/Di, PERC 4/IM
PERC 4e/DC, PERC 4e/Di, PERC 4e/Si
PERC 5/E Adapter, PERC 5/I Integrated, PERC 5/i Adapter
CERC SATA 1.5/6-Channel (CH), CERC SATA 1.5/2S, and PERC 3/Di (Linux preboot only),
SAS 5iR Integrated, SAS 5iR Adapter
SAS 6iR Integrated, SAS 6iR Adapter
PERC 6/E Adapter, PERC 6/i Integrated, PERC 6/i Adapter
Support is also enhanced for BIOS and remote access hardware.
Section II: WinPE 2.1
Windows preproduction support in previous versions of Deployment Solution for Dell Servers was built upon WinPE 1.6 which was available from Microsoft for a fee. Windows preproduction support in version 3.1 is now built upon WinPE 2.1 a freely available preproduction environment from Microsoft. This not only saves money and expands support for the latest hardware, it enhances stability because it is built on the next generation of Windows kernels utilized in Vista, and Windows Server 2008.
Section III: Enhanced and Simplified Jobs
The basic jobs that come with every installation have increased stability with better status detail messages to keep users informed. Other areas have been simplified, such as the partitioning of hard disks before deployment of an OS. This task has been rolled into the scripted OS install task, and users no longer need to think about which task to use. Lastly, the amount of script editing through user modification sections has been reduced considerably.
The Job Builder has also got a tune up, with partitioning details being handled automatically. The "Partition Hard Drive" task has now been renamed to the "Prepare Disk" task, retaining only those options you need to worry about.
Running Dell Update Packages in Linux Automation (also available in 3.0SP1)
The ability to apply firmware updates through Dell Update Packages (DUPS) in an automation environment let's you take care of firmware issues up front before deploying an operating system. No longer do you have to worry about Linux DUP dependencies or about performing tasks that will impact the production OS. This especially makes life easier for administrators of disk-less systems where updating of firmware is not possible through the production jobs.
Eric Szewczyk has written an excellent article on this topic here.
Section IV: Windows 2008 Deployment
A lot of the details having to do with scripted OS deployment for Windows has changed, but that doesn't mean you need to learn anything new with version 3.1.
The same easy-to-use interface allows you to install support for Windows Server 2008 deployment and basic jobs are automatically created, just like you're used to for Windows Server 2000/2003.
You are also free to create custom jobs using the Job Builder in the same manner. Automatic tokenization of the windows setup answer file with the correct disk and partition information retains the hassle free approach to deployment users experienced with version 3.0 and 3.0SP1.
Interested in doing advanced partitioning as part of your Windows Server 2008 install? No problem, because disk partitioning is now handled solely by the windows installation, just edit the unattend.xml file, and the possibilities are endless. Configure which discs, filesystems, and partitions you want on your systems, then run the job.
Possibilities with Customized WIMs
Microsoft's new scripted OS deployment system utilizing WIM images expands the possibilities for IT Administrators using Deployment Solution for Dell Servers 3.1. Each WIM file can contain a number of different editions of Windows.
The process for installing Windows Server 2008 source files searches this WIM file and lets you select which edition you want to install. This not only allows you to install several different editions of the OS using one copy of the WIM file, it even allows for IT Administrators to create customized WIMs containing a homegrown distribution of features and software and use them as if they had come straight from Microsoft.