As from the 1.5.0 version, EasyDCIM allows admins to install any of the supported operating systems on existing EasyDCIM servers in a totally automated manner – from the moment of selecting an installation template to running post-installation scripts. Yeah, saying that will never fail to give us a thrill. But that is not enough reason for us to slow down the tempo and just slob around while there is still so much to be done! Talking about progress – we are putting final touches to the 1.5.1 version which will extend the range of supported OS systems to include the long asked-for Windows Servers. Care for a little teaser?
A brief outlook on automatic OS installation
But let’s go back to basics for a moment and focus on what ‘unattended installation’ actually means. Simply put, it is an automated technology used to install or upgrade an operating system with minimal user intervention. Unattended installation is usually employed while introducing a new system on a large scale, when the manual installation of an operating system on individual servers by administrators would be too money- and time-consuming.
Just like with all other automatic installation technologies, unattended installation goes with a series of multiple advantages that standard interactive configuration does not provide. Here are some of those which we would like to highlight the most:
- Fewer installation errors. Since unattended installation makes use of a response file to install and configure operating systems, the interaction between administrators and technicians during the configuration process is reduced to minimum. Therefore, the likelihood that any erroneous data is entered during the configuration stage is proportionally smaller.
- Greater consistency during deployment. By using the same response file to install and configure every operating system, you gain the assurance that all servers in your data center are configured in the same exact way.
- Shorter installation time. During interactive configuration, the installation program demands from administrators or technicians to enter valid information at almost every step of the process. The unattended installation, in comparison, simply reads the configuration settings from the response file, saving you the whole hassle. And, of course, time.
- Lower maintenance costs. By minimizing errors during the configuration process, increasing server consistency and reducing the time required to configure the server, you can significantly diminish the overall cost related to technical support in the data center.
Windows OS installation in practice
The built-in operating system installer in EasyDCIM relies on installation templates. Each system has its own template which serves to automatically install the operating system on a dedicated server. All necessary installation files for the systems from the Windows family are usually compressed in ISO files on the basis of which EasyDCIM will automatically set up a system template for the selected Windows edition.
Getting the Windows system template ready will be virtually unattended since the administrator’s role will come down to merely placing the ISO file in the appropriate directory and then adding a new system task that will automatically perform the required operations including:
- Unpacking the installation files from the ISO image
- Injection of special parameters to the boot files
- Preparation of a response file responsible for the unattended installation of Windows
- Injection of the system key (if required)
- Placing the installation files on the SAMBA server
All of the above steps will be taken by EasyDCIM automatically, thanks to which the administrator will be able to install Windows on multiple dedicated servers at the same time. During tests we used the following versions of Windows systems:
- Windows 10 April 2018
- Windows Server 2016
- Windows Server 2012 R2
- Windows Server 2008 R2
For each of the Windows versions listed above, the installer performs the following actions:
- Creating an account named Administrator
- Setting a password for the Administrator account
- Setting the language
- Disk partitioning
- Setting a main IP address
- Setting additional IP addresses
- Setting a computer name
Interested to see how this process looks like in practice? Here we go:
Unattended OS installation of systems from the Windows family is exactly the kind of convenience that most frequently comes up on a wish list of every data center admin. And soon it will be also an integral part of the EasyDCIM system! Stay tuned for this momentous 1.5.1 release and be sure to swing by the changelog as soon as it arrives!
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