In the previous blog post I demonstrated how to build a proof of concept environment using Windows Server 2016 with Hyper-V and Storage Spaces Direct using virtual machines on VMware vSphere. Expanding on the concepts that I covered in the previous post, I’m going to show you how to fully automate the installation and configuration process using Microsoft’s free hypervisor and deployment software, namely Hyper-V Server 2016 and Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) 2013 Update 1. If you follow the steps in this post, at the end you will have a fully automated, entirely free Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) platform including shared storage using Hyper-V Server and Storage Spaces Direct. Additionally, you’ll have the tools to rinse and repeat as many times as required to deploy in remote pods of infrastructure, or to use for customer deployments if you work at an integration partner as I do.
If you’re not familiar with the free Hyper-V Server, it truly is feature rich, including all the features of Hyper-V, Failover Clustering capabilities, and now Storage Spaces Direct using a slightly modified build of Server Core with a customized administration GUI. With a little experimenting you could build a similar deployment process using Microsoft’s new Nano Server distribution to lower the install footprint and attack surface even further. At this stage there is no indication that Microsoft’s free hypervisor, Hyper-V Server 2016, will come with a Nano Server variation. Part of the objective of this blog post is to show a completely free infrastructure solution built using Microsoft’s free automation and deployment tool (MDT). Johan Arwidmark has an excellent blog post with instructions on how to use MDT to deploy Nano Server that can be used with some tweaking in combination with this post if you plan to use the licensed versions of Windows (Standard or Datacenter).
Introduction and Review of Deployment Objectives
Below you will find a quick overview of the environment I’m going to build in this blog post. To start, I need an Active Directory domain and an Administrator System running Windows Server 2016 TP4. These systems will sit outside the cluster we are building. On the Admin System we’ll install Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2013 Update 1 and the Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) for Hyper-V and Failover Clustering. We need the Admin System OS version to match (2016 TP4) so we can use all the Storage Spaces features in Server Manager to view the storage pools and disks. We can use PowerShell remoting from that system to configure everything so we’ll never need to login to the Hyper-V servers once they’re deployed using MDT.
The installation of Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2013 Update 1 will be nearly identical to the steps I provided in my previous MDT blog post. If you want to integrate with Windows Deployment Services for network/PXE booting, you can follow the instructions in this previous WDS blog post. The only exception is that you need to grab Windows 10 Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK) which can be found here: https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/hardware/dn913721(v=vs.8.5).aspx. Also, you need to download MDT 2013 Update 1 from here: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=48595. The blog post covered installation using ADK 8.1 and MDT 2013 (non Update 1).