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Archive for June 5th, 2009

Using SCCM for unattended Deployments

Posted by decipherinfosys on June 5, 2009

In case you have not started using SCCM (System Center Configuration Manager) from Microsoft, we would strongly encourage you to take a look.  MSFT also has two virtual labs to help you become familiar with it – one an introduction to SCCM and the other one deals with upgrading from Systems Management Server 2003 to SCCM 2007.

SCCM can also be used to create fully managed, totally un-attended deployments to remote machines.  We have a client who has offices in 3 cities with their IT department in one central location.  They had a need to deploy Windows Server 2008 across the offices.  Using SCCM 2007, they were able to identify the machines that met the hardware requirements, distributed the OS source files to all the computers, did the installation and did the monitoring and troubleshooting – all remotely.

Microsoft TechNet has excellent set of posts regarding SCCM that you can access over here:

Posted in Windows | Leave a Comment »

VMWare ESX Server – Virtual machine templates

Posted by decipherinfosys on June 5, 2009

Among the many best features of ESX server, virtual machine templates is one of the time saving features that system administrators can rely on to deploy servers at ease.

A template is a ‘pristine’ image of a server that can be used to create and provision new virtual servers on the fly in the ESX server environment. The template includes an operating system, its configuration and other set of applications installed on a typical server.  There are four options related to templates in Virtual Center when you right click on a Virtual Machine or template that a system administrator needs to be aware of. Each option performs a different task and it is generally confusing to the new ESX server administrators. This post explains those options.


The options are as follows:

  1. Migrate – Selecting this option moves virtual machine from on ESX server host to another host. Without VMotion installed, this is a cold migration process that requires the virtual machine to be powered off before being migrated.
  2. Clone – It creates an exact copy of a virtual machine. Guest OS customization is required before powering on the cloned virtual machine in order to avoid SID and IP address conflicts in Windows operating system.
  3. Clone to Template – This option keeps the original virtual machine and creates a template.
  4. Convert to Template – This option converts the selected virtual machine to template and the original virtual machine disappears

Once a template is created, using Virtual Center it can be used in the following ways:

  1. Cloned to create a new template
  2. Converted to a virtual machine (The template disappears once the virtual machine is generated)
  3. Deploy virtual machine – This wizard driven option allows to keep the original template and offers guest OS customizations (using Sysprep) to create a new virtual machine

Few facts about templates:

•    VMWare Virtual Center is needed to create a template. It cannot be created with a stand alone ESX server
•    Never power-on a template
•    Templates can be used to deploy virtual machines across different ESX servers hosts managed by the Virtual Center

There are a few interesting cloning options in VMWare provided by VMWare converter.   We will discuss those in the next post.


Posted in VMWare | 2 Comments »

Project Management Features in SSMS

Posted by decipherinfosys on June 5, 2009

SSMS in SQL Server has project management features similar to Visual Studio.  It does support a solution based development approach i.e. we can create a solution that comprises of projects which in turn comprises of other files like T-SQL files, XML files etc..    So, just like Visual Studio, SSMS now has a solution explorer window.  Let’s take a look at it – we clicked on view from the menu and then choose “Solution Explorer” to get that window on the right hand side.  You can right click and add a project to it:


Couple of things to note over here:

a) We can choose to add different kind of scripts including Analysis Services scripts.
b) The default location is under the users folder.  You can change it.
c) When you save it, the solution files are saved with an extension of *.ssmssln and the project files are saved with an extension of *.ssmsproj (this one is an XML file).
d) Once you have selected the kind of project that you want to create – (we selected the SQL Scripts project), in the solution explorer you will see three folders as shown below:

SSMS_SOL2And using SSMS, we can then do source control integration with TFS (Team Foundation Server) to help manage the versioning as well as deployments.  Before you can do the source control integration, you first need to set it up.  In order to do that, we first need to get Microsoft Source Code Control Interface provider which is available as a free download from MSFT.  If you are using Visual Studio 2008, then download the provider from here.  It comes in as a msi file and the install is straight forward.  Once you have done the install, you will then have the option of choosing your source control options from under Tools/Options and click on Source Control.  From the Plug in, you can select the MSCCI provider as the plug in.  Once that set up is done, just like in Visual Studio, you will be able to right click on the solution and add it to TFS.  And the check-in/check-out process works the same (those you will access from the File/Source Control menu).

Pretty neat feature and one that allows Developers and DBAs to get used to the same kind of tool sets.


  • Post by Andy on MSCCI and SSMS – here.
  • VSTS 2008 trial download – here and a post on Team System install – here.

Posted in SQL Server | Leave a Comment »