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Deploying Windows XP, Business Desktop Deployment

By Marcin Policht (Send Email)
Posted Oct 20, 2005


Previous articles in our Deploying Windows XP Series examined solutions that simplify XP deployments through an innovative approach (e.g., disk imaging, Windows PE functionality, or eliminating the need for standard installation methods) or by employing various automation, centralized management, and remote administration techniques. The Microsoft Solution Accelerator for Business Desktop Deployment facilitates the process for which it is named. The software guides admins through the Windows XP Pro deployment process, from initial inventorying to post-deployment tasks.

However, most of these solutions are either based on a single technology or consist of a number loosely related utilities that, when combined, deliver a semi-cohesive process requiring considerable coordination. This can be fairly difficult in larger environments where dealing with operating system rollouts is challenging, not only from a technology perspective but also from the project management point of view. To address this problem, Microsoft developed Solution Accelerator for Business Desktop Deployment (BDD), which is the topic of this article.

Microsoft Solution Accelerator for Business Desktop Deployment is a framework designed in accordance with best industry practice. Its purpose is to guide the administrator through the entire process of deploying Windows XP Professional Service Pack 2 (including support for Multilingual User Interface Pack and 64-bit edition of the operating system), Windows XP Tablet Edition, and Microsoft Office 2003 Professional. The scope of its guidance extends from the initial stages of the process — such as collecting hardware and software inventory, ensuring compatibility of existing applications, creating operating system images, optimizing relevant infrastructure components, and user state migration — through the actual rollout of the operating system and core applications, to post-deployment tasks, such as noncore application installation.

Solution Accelerator for Business Desktop Deployment (BDD) is intended for medium and large enterprises and consulting vendors, which provide this type of services to customers. It is fairly inefficient for SMBs because much of the value is found in its dependencies on other software and the relative complexity of procedures that must be implemented to support it.

What differentiates the Solution Accelerator for BDD from technologies presented so far is its focus on processes and the technology that facilitates them. Although it assumes availability of all necessary software components, it delivers substantial added value by providing guidance in each step of planning, testing, implementation, and facilitating adherence to Microsoft recommendations. Solution Accelerator for BDD is based on concepts derived from Microsoft Solution Framework (MSF) version 3.0 and closely follows its principles. It features a customizable, scalable, extensible, well-documented, and seamlessly integrated set of processes that cover software-based (design and development) and infrastructure (design and deployment) activities.

What differentiates the Solution Accelerator for BDD from technologies presented so far is its focus on processes and the technology that facilitates them.

Solution Accelerator for BDD (currently at version 2.5) is freely downloadable from the Microsoft Web Site in Standard and Enterprise editions. Both downloads are in form of the Windows Installer packages (called BDDStandard.msi and BDDEnterprise.msi, respectively). The prerequisite for the installation is .NET Framework version 1.1.4322, which is found in the download area of Microsoft's Web site. It should also be supplemented with Service Pack 1.

After the installation completes, the corresponding item will appear in the My Programs menu with two shortcuts — one for BDD Explorer, the other for the Getting Started Guide. The BDD Explorer is implemented as an HTA application with an intuitive interface that takes you through each phase of the deployment process.

The Standard Edition

The Standard Edition is optimized for midsize companies (i.e., those with between 250 and 500 desktops), but it is flexible enough to accommodate environments far beyond this range (from 25 to 5,000 systems, in situations where Systems Management Server 2003 is not used). Its operation involves using a disk imaging product (such as Symantec Ghost Solution Suite) and Windows PE. (For more information on this subject, refer to an earlier article in this series). In addition, customers must purchase a sufficient number of Windows XP Professional and Microsoft Office Professional 2003 Edition licenses. Although having an Active Directory and Remote Installation Services implementation considerably simplifies deployment efforts with the Standard Edition, they are not part of the requirements set (which might become a deciding factor when selecting Solution Accelerator for BDD appropriate for an environment).

Remaining components, downloadable free of charge from the Microsoft Web site, include Microsoft User State Migration Toolkit (USMT) 2.6, Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit 4.0, Microsoft Office Access 2003 Conversion Toolkit, Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2, and Office Professional 2003 Edition Service Pack 1.

To differentiate the process of deploying the operating system following the Solution Accelerator for BDD Standard Edition guidelines from other, similar methodologies, Microsoft coined the term "Lite Touch" network installation. This term conveys the notion that in the absence of Active Directory, Systems Management Server 2003 with Operating System Deployment Feature Pack, or Remote Installation Services servers, installing the new operating system will likely require, at the very least, a short visit to the location where target computers reside (e.g., to initiate the process using installation CD).

>> Enterprise Edition

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