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Having difficulty with trial


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I want to try SmartDeploy so I downloaded the 15 day trial. I already have a base Windows 7 64-bit image with all the programs and customization we use in my VMWare Workstation 9 virtual machine.

What I normally do is when it needs updates I revert it to a snapshot called before sysprep. I do my updates, reboots, etc.. then when done delete any snapshots and create a new one again called before sysprep. Then I run a cmd file I have on the C: drive that runs sysprep along with our unattend.xml. When the VM shuts down I then boot it but go into network boot and choose WDS capture from our network boot menu (we have 3 options currently Acronis True Image, Windows 7 WDS Setup and WDS capture).

Paging through the wizzard this creates the capture which I name it.

To deploy to a machine, I just make it network boot and choose the Windows 7 WDS setup and after I choose my image, it auto partitions the drive, installs it and everything (another image-unattend.xml file in the WDS server).

This works great and I don't see an issue with it at all. But I came across this product and interested to see if its any better, I just can't get the trial to work.

First off the Capture wizard can't seem to see my vmdk file on my virtual machine. Well I'm thinking its because its a split disk, but split disks are better, see here: http://sanbarrow.com/vmdk/monlithicversussplit.html

So I boot my VM into Acronis TrueImage and take an image of it. I then create a new VM with a single disk file and restore that image to it.

So I can create an image from this but then how do I restore it to another machine? I booted up a dell optiplex 755 to a usb boot media I created with Smart Deploy, and I was able to map a drive to my computer and find the wim image file. However it said that it couldn't deploy the image because it was too big? The drive in the Dell is 250GB and the WIM file was 8.17 GB. So I can't really see any benefits to using this over WDS.

1. WDS works

2. WDS doesn't require any boot media (just boot from network to capture or deploy).

3. I can provide my own answer files to WDS for unattended install.

So tell me what am I doing wrong here? I don't see why I need this product? I have my driver packs already loaded in WDS and they load fine. We use all Dell Optiplex series. I got my dell driver files from here: http://en.community.dell.com/techcenter/enterprise-client/w/wiki/2065.dell-driver-cab-files-for-enterprise-client-os-deployment.aspx

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On behalf of the whole team, I appreciate you taking time to evaluate SmartDeploy. I wanted to respond to some of the comments that you make below but also offer you the chance to talk with our pre-sales technical specialists or just attend a weekly demo. Let me know if you’d be interested in that.

From some of the notes below:

  1. We support snapshots and split disks, you just need to boot the target device to capture it. To use the offline Capture Wizard which most customers use since it is the easiest, fastest, and most convenient since you just browse to the VHD/VMDK file and it will generate the WIM for you. But for your scenario – you need to have single disks and no snapshots to use it.
  2. We integrate with WDS. WDS is our supported PXE boot environment. We generate the boot.wim for you and mark you image.wim acceptable for use with WDS in a unicast or multicast fashion as you choose. These installs can be unattended or light-touch.
  3. Our WIM files don’t contain any drivers. Drivers are handled separately with the Platform Pack files (PPKs). In this way, you never need to modify your image to support an alternate or new type of hardware.
  4. We create an answer file for you as part of your first deployment which you can use to customize for further automation.
  5. We run Sysprep automatically for you at deployment time. Customers like this because it maintains the integrity of their reference computer over time (with Windows 7 you have to start over and rebuild the reference after three syspreps for example), and reduces the overall technical complexity with Windows deployment (for example, the switches changed from XP to 7 and customers don’t have to learn the ins and outs of modern OS’s – it just works).
  6. There is some duplicity in the way you are looking to do your deployments and how our system works. So, the order of the steps may change or the way in which you do some of your tasks may shift a bit too, but in general we can accomplish all of what it sounds like you are doing today with SmartDeploy and WDS.

In general, customers like SmartDeploy for:

  1. Ease of use. Built in best-practices throughout.
  2. Flexible architecture. No dedicated hardware or infrastructure requirements.
  3. Driver management. Pre-built device driver packages eliminate driver headaches.
  4. Great for OS migrations, break-fix, new machine provisioning, etc…

I can appreciate that you have a system in place that you know well and have working for you. If there are specific areas that you’d like to improve we can evaluate those areas and see if SmartDeploy is a good fit.

Kind regards,


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I was just looking if SmartDeploy could do this faster. It takes a long time to capture the image into WDS.

Also its at least 30 minutes for Windows 7 to deploy until I can get to a login screen. So wim image creation and deployment speed is a concern. I've tried multicast in WDS but no clients ever show up in it. I think there may be switch configuration for that.

Ideally less time spent in front of the machine I am imaging / upgrading. If I could put a "golden image" on a bunch of hard drives, then take those hard drives and swap them into PC's destined for Windows 7 upgrades.... boot it and have everything just work without spending an hour in front of someones computer. I'd rather spend that hour in the IT department where I can answer phones and emails and all that while a pallet of spare hard drives are getting imaged prior to deploying them.

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  • 3 weeks later...

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