MDT & Intel Arrrrrgggghhhh!

Last year I spent a great deal of time learning how to use MDT. And it seemed like a good system. It worked well and there were only a few hiccups with it.

Suddenly this year it is proving to be a great deal of trouble and I’m wondering why I bothered with it.

Firstly, I made an effort to get a capture done from a VM image. There were no problems getting that capture done before. But now, for no apparent reason, MDT starts refusing the capture, and when it’s MDT, the reasons won’t be that obvious; the error messages you get will be meaningless like “CloneTag” or something, and you won’t be able to work out just what is going on without a lot more work.

The second instance is this year when I have started to work on laptops, and for good measure I loaded the carefully crafted and fully tested laptop image onto three new laptops. These types of laptops never gave us any trouble before loading this MDT image. But now, all three of them have inexplicably crashed during the MDT deployment process, leaving me with a pile of work to get them completed because half the task sequence hasn’t been completed.

At the moment I am not in a place where I have got time to poke around trying to find out why MDT has failed. I expected this deployment to go smoothly. It hasn’t. It is very time sensitive and it will have to be completed manually with a lot of extra work involved.

With all the amount of trouble that it can be with MDT at times like this I am really seriously considering just going over to native VHD deployment for all of our Windows 7 computers. Then we will only need MDT to simplify some of the management and I won’t be doing captures or deployments with it.

The second MDT (and AIK for that matter) annoyance is the design limitations that means a 64 bit installation (which is made on a 64 bit platform i.e. Windows 7 or Windows Server 64 bit edition) can only service installations that are for 64 bit target platforms. To be able to service both 64 bit and 32 bit installations, the 32 bit version of MDT (which can only be installed on a 32 bit edition of Windows) has to be installed. So this means that the computer that MDT and AIK is installed on has to be running a 32 bit edition of Windows. And since 2008R2 came out it is 64 bit only. Now the importance of this is that I wanted to have my Setup share a local drive letter on the MDT/AIK VM. This means it can only be running a Desktop edition of Windows and thus there is the infamous 10 connection limit. So in reality this would limit access to that share to 10 connections. Sometimes when you see these limitations you wonder if MS really has a clue what people use these packages for or they just must think people are made of money so they can fork out for another license for a machine that runs that specific edition of Windows (and another hardware box if that is what is needed). For me I have a Enterprise server license that will let me run this VM as part of the license but it still ends up with that 10 connection license to run a desktop edition of Windows.

The other annoyance is the server rail kit for Intel 5295 chassis. We ordered a rack that is 700 mm deep, thinking this would be plenty, after all the chassis is about 500 mm deep. But this very poorly designed Intel product will not fit in a chassis that is less than that size, even though it allows a huge gap at the back of the server, the rails require minimum of 700 mm depth in the chassis to fit in, and even at that you should really be looking at 800 mm chassis depth because the front door of your cabinet will not close. But of course in the minimum size 12RU chassis that we purchased, it is not available in more than 700 mm depth. Not until you go to 22RU and that is much too big and expensive.

So while the rack manufacturer’s product is good, Intel has really let us down with this silly very poor design. I went all over Intel’s website and looking at other websites to see what information is there about this design limitation (the product is called APP3RACKIT) and there is NO information. Absolutely NONE at all. If we can’t get the kit returned we are going to end up having to try to resell it, and we’ll end up losing money on it.