Alphabet Soup of Deployment

The one thing I find that gets people confused the most about Windows Deployment is the Alphabet Soup of tools and packages and roles that Microsoft starts throwing around. It wasn’t until I used the picture below to explain to my buddy what was really going on that he had his “Ah-Hah” moment….


I myself once struggled with this, so understand where I’m coming from, I like most people spent a lot of time using the deployment tools that Microsoft rolled out with Vista to no avail. AIK and ADK are just that, tools, MDT is the workbench, and WDS is the network component for it all. See, the point is that ADK by itself is not a deployment solution, and neither is WDS by itself, it’s only when you bring all three of these together that you have a solid deployment platform.

ADK by itself is not so good, lots of work by hand, and there is almost NO automation. Plan on using lots of checklists and typing lots of command line.

WDS all by itself is not so good either, it has little to no flexibility. You’ll be stuck with one monolithic image or worse yet many of them. You’re still missing something.

ADK + WDS is a little better, but its still horribly tedious and highly inflexible. You can capture images, you can deploy images, but you’re not really doing much more than cloning disks across a network.

ADK + MDT + WDS = Windows Deployment Trifecta. Its only when you bridge the “automation gap” with MDT that you have a all three of these modules working together to deploy.

Combined with the Windows Deployment Services Role in Server 2008 or 2012, one can both multicast and PXE boot. Use MDT to automate the deployment.

Solidify the foundation of MDT with a SQL Database, and you can effectively have a completely unattended install. It’s what I call a barely legal zero touch, but that’s a topic for another day.