I've got a project going on which I'm running into a bit of a roadblock on.

I'm interested in learning if there is a better alternative to what my MSP does for OS deployment, currently. Most of our clients are small (10-20) seat environments - we try to keep each workstation identical for the most part. Currently, when a computer needs to be wiped and restored, we walk the client through taking an image of a healthy computer on Acronis, and putting it onto the first machine. Then we change the host names, switch the key codes, and disjoin / rejoin it to the domain (the computer being off during this whole exchange, up to the rejoin). These would be Windows XP and 7 machines, with versions of Office from 2003 to 2013 plus proprietary industry software.

What I'd like to do is see if there's a better way to do this. In particular, I'm interested in keeping the need for end-user interaction to a minimum. We set client computers to have PXE boot enabled, so PXE boot solutions are possible. The first major problem I have to overcome is efficiency - our clients have disparate enough situations that it isn't feasible to just have a few images for the entire base of them. A favorable aspect of the Acronis solution is that we can get it pretty close to the set of applications each client needs. Initially I was thinking to sysprep a machine at each client's location, but after further research I realized this would be a very bad idea due to wiping the sysprep'd computer.

I would especially like it to be possible to seize an image of a computer on the network without needing to kick the end user off of it, possibly via PsExec or PowerShell, prep it, and deliver to the new machine, with the absolute minimum amount of end user effort. I have a lab I can investigate solutions in.

Currently, the most promising solution is appearing to be FOG, but from what I can tell in the documentation, I would still need to prep an image from a computer on the network via sysprep, thus removing some of the efficiency from this equation (and needing to kick the user off). Is it possible to use PsExec to remotely run Disk2VHD, and then sysprep /generalize the VHD for deployment to physical machines?

Ultimately, what makes this question odd is that almost every image-based tutorial and resource assumes you're doing a lot of machines which will be similar, which is a disparate use case for what I would like this to work for. I know this is a very complicated question - thanks in advance if you help!


When I've dealt with this kind of situation I would create a clone of a base system - I preferred using vmwares p2v and workstation for the snapshotting capability. I'd then take the clone and use it to sysprep and generalize an image I could deploy with MDT. I'd include the drivers for the physical hardware being deployed to in the task sequence.

It isn't very scriptable doing it this way but it does avoidyhr need if taking systems offline.

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