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Zero-Touch, High-Volume Deployment

Applies to: Windows 8.1, Windows 8

In this series:

The Zero-Touch, High-Volume Deployment strategy that Figure 1 shows is for large organizations with IT staff and IT pros who have expertise with deployment, networking, and Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager. Organizations using this strategy typically have more than 500 client computers and at least one location with more than 25 users. They have managed networks based on a Windows Server operating system.

Figure 1. Zero-Touch, High-Volume Deployment Strategy

The Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) is a Microsoft solution available at no cost for deploying Windows operating systems, such as the Windows 8.1 operating system. Based on the experience of Microsoft employees, partners, and customers, MDT contains many thousands of lines of code—code that provides a deployment framework so that you can focus on your business, not on programming. Integrating MDT with Configuration Manager helps large organizations use this framework to more easily implement the Zero-Touch, High-Volume Deployment strategy.

note icon Note: This guide recommends that you use MDT with Configuration Manager, rather than using Configuration Manager alone to deploy Windows 8.1. MDT significantly reduces the time, effort, and complexity of deploying Windows 8.1 by using Configuration Manager, so there is no advantage to using Configuration Manager without also using MDT.

About the strategy

Customers can use MDT with Configuration Manager for User-Driven Installation or Zero-Touch Installation (ZTI) deployment. Based on ZTI deployment, the Zero-Touch, High-Volume Deployment strategy is appropriate for large organizations that have the necessary infrastructure (Configuration Manager, Active Directory Domain Services [AD DS], and so on). If your organization does not have the required infrastructure, use the Lite-Touch, High-Volume Deployment strategy, instead. Organizations that meet the Zero-Touch, High-Volume Deployment strategy’s requirements can realize significant savings by fully automating Windows 8.1 deployment.

Benefits of integrating MDT with Configuration Manager in the Zero-Touch, High-Volume Deployment strategy include:

  • Streamlined deployment, because installation is fully automated without interaction
  • Lower support costs, because configurations are consistent across all client computers
  • Streamlined maintenance, because Configuration Manager handles applications, device drivers, and updates
note icon Note: MDT supports thin and thick imaging. Thin imaging refers to installing the Windows 8.1 image that Microsoft provides without customizing it (or installing a lightly customize image), and then using automation to install applications, device drivers, and updates on each client computer during deployment. Thick imaging refers to customizing an image with applications, device drivers, and updates before deploying it. Microsoft recommends using thin images, as doing so helps reduce maintenance time and costs. MDT makes using thin images with the Zero-Touch, High-Volume Deployment strategy simple: In fact, this strategy advocates thin images.

Strategy requirements

The following elements are required to use the Zero-Touch, High-Volume Deployment strategy:

Strategy limitations

The Zero-Touch, High-Volume Deployment strategy’s most significant limitations are the infrastructure and skill level required to implement it. This strategy relies on integrating MDT and Configuration Manager. MDT can be simple, but Configuration Manager requires significant infrastructure. In addition, using Configuration Manager to deploy Windows requires expertise with deployment, networking, and the Configuration Manager software. Training is also required. These limitations are offset by the reduced costs realized by fully automating deployment.

Deployment process

Table 1 describes the high-level deployment process for using the Zero-Touch, High-Volume Deployment strategy with MDT. The left column describes the step, and the right column contains links to detailed information about completing that step.

Table 1. Zero-Touch, High-Volume Deployment Strategy

Step More information
1. Review the available planning guidance for using the Zero-Touch, High-Volume Deployment strategy with MDT. This guidance includes detailed information about the infrastructure required to deploy Windows 8.1 by using this strategy.
2. Determine your organization’s readiness for Windows 8.1 by using the MAP Toolkit or a similar assessment tool.
3. Use the ACT to prioritize your organization’s applications, determine your compatibility status, and consolidate applications. The ACT can help organizations triage and remediate applications that have compatibility problems.
4. Prepare the infrastructure for the Zero-Touch, High-Volume Deployment strategy with MDT, including installing and configuring Configuration Manager and its prerequisites, creating the required user and service accounts, and configuring AD DS.
5. Install MDT, and configure integration with Configuration Manager. This process includes configuring how to define new computers in the site database and creating additional packages that Configuration Manager requires during deployment (USMT package, Custom Settings package, and so on).
6. Optionally, create a custom master image by using Configuration Manager to deploy Windows 8.1 to a master computer, customize the configuration, and then capture the custom image.

Additional resources