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I have an ERP system that requires a local installation on a Windows Terminal Server to operate properly. Right now I pay for each TS that I have the vendor install the software on directly. However, every time an upgrade happens they take all of my Terminal Servers down for hours. This happens at least once a month. Obviously this is not ideal. As a solution to this issue (since we cannot install the software ourselves), we are doing the following process:

  1. Have the ERP vendor install the software on one Terminal Server.
  2. Clone/Sysprep that Terminal Server.
  3. Deploy the clone to multiple physical and virtual boxes (with new names, etc.)

This allows us to keep the Terminal Servers running during and upgrade, it keeps the vendor off of our live systems, and it reduces our costs. However, it makes a lot of manual work for us and during that time we cannot use the ERP system since the database has been updated but the client has not been updated.

I am looking for an automation solution that could handle this process. Obviously I would like the whole things to be automated and scheduled but even partial automation would be great (or a set of solutions that all work towards automation). I'm not afraid of scripting or buying something. Here are the areas the solution needs to handle:

  1. Scheduled imaging of a server.
  2. Sysprep of the image.
  3. Installation of the image as a clone on multiple systems (preferably multicast).
  4. Basic server setup (Name, IP, join to domain, etc.)

Right now we are using Windows Server 2008 64-bit as our Terminal Server. At some point we will need to upgrade to R2. We are also using roaming profiles so there shouldn't be an issue with profiles on the boxes. We are using a mix of Hyper-V and physical boxes.

If you need more information, please let me know. As I stated above, I'll buy something if it will do the job. If you do know of a solution, the more information you provide, the better. Thanks for your help.

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This isn't quite what you asked for; but have you considered using Citrix XenApp? It's essentially the same thing, but you're virtualizing the application rather than the desktop. – Coding Gorilla Oct 7 '11 at 17:34
@CodingGorilla - Thanks, but unfortunately I cannot virtualize the application. It uses COM and some other nasty stuff that doesn't work with virtualization. I've also tried AppV and Remote Apps (a Terminal Services virtualization option) but neither of these worked well enough for our needs. – IAmTimCorey Oct 7 '11 at 19:24
It seems like you're trying to kill a fly with a sledge hammer. Why not update the servers after hours during a scheduled maintenence window? – joeqwerty Oct 7 '11 at 20:09
@joeqwerty - I understand what you are saying but the short answer is no, I'm not. The software update, which takes the entire server down, takes six hours to do. It takes all of the servers down at once, so I cannot even move people around. It also costs me per server I put online. If I bring a new server online because one of the current ones has problems, that will cost extra and take even more time. Unfortunately, I am locked in to the vendor so I can't change the situation that way. – IAmTimCorey Oct 8 '11 at 17:08
Which ERP system? – Ram Oct 11 '11 at 21:44
up vote 3 down vote accepted

I think something like Altiris Deployment Solution is exactly what you need, you can schedule image creation and deployment and it will handle all of the sysprep and server configuration that you are after, I dont think its cheap though!

Take a look at:

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Have you ever used this product or seen it used in a production environment? If so, what were your experiences with it? – IAmTimCorey Oct 15 '11 at 19:26
Yes we use it at my work, although we do not automate the image creation we do automate the deployment and workstation customization and it works really well. Just reading your requirements to what the software does made me think it is a good match – haXs Oct 15 '11 at 20:01
Good to know. Thanks for the info. – IAmTimCorey Oct 16 '11 at 20:15

If you are willing to switch your hypervisor to VMWare's ESXi and do some scripting you can check this out

share|improve this answer
Thanks but at this point we cannot switch hypervisors. I will keep your suggestion in mind, though, in case I ever come across a similar situation. – IAmTimCorey Oct 15 '11 at 19:25

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