I’ve been experimenting recently with building a Hydration Imaging Factory on one of my servers. A Hydration Factory is a Windows Host that constructs Windows images for use in deployment.
Perhaps you have a simple setup in your environment using MDT LiteTouch. This could be something like a task sequence that installs Windows 7 x64, runs Windows Update, syspreps and captures back to a *.wim file. Or perhaps you have a laundry list of applications that need to be installed in your corporate standardized image for VDI scenarios. With the correct settings in your CustomSettings.ini file, this process could be fully automated, and repeatable. Spin up a Virutal Machine and 30 minutes later you have a new install.wim file.
A Hydration Imaging Factory will combine the automation of MDT LiteTouch with some PowerShell automation to build out a list of virtual machines.
I’ve been spending some time trying to make my Hydration Factory system modular, and right now I can kick off a new build and my Host.
In my system:
Given my host test machine (Simple single processor multi-core desktop, i7, 32GB of ram, and multiple SSD Drives). It took about 7 hours to build out the following Virtual Machines.
40 File(s) 172,408,546,058 bytes
I have scripts to merge similar install wims together to save space. This is similar to what Microsoft does with the Windows Release DVD’s, putting multiple SKU’s in the same *.wim file.
9 File(s) 46,151,430,788 bytes
Additionally, I tried out Johan’s Beyond Zip method to shrink files down even more…
From 160GB down to 21.6GB, an savings of about 87% Wow!
Finally, I have other scripts to convert the *.wim images to *.vhdx files for easy import into Hyper-V or Azure. See my last post on persistalldeviceinstalls
As a service, I’ve been thinking of uploading my updated/patched images for these Operating Systems (and more) to a public internet file sharing site like my OneDrive for Business account. Rebuilding everything from scratch every Patch Tuesday. One drive for business has 1TB for use, I could share the images, how cool would that be?
First glitch is that OneDrive for Business still has the 2GB file limitation, so that would require splitting the files up into 2047MB chunks and reassembling later.
However, my biggest problem right now is my ISP connection. Today, I was averaging about 11.14Mbps upload speed to OneDrive. To upload 42GB of Wim files to OneDrive for Business would take more than 8 hours, which is more time than it took to build the images in the first place. That combined with my ISP’s data caps, makes sharing this from my current office cost prohibitive.
Let me know if you are interested in setting up your own imaging factory environment. I’ve already done this for a large Video Chipset Mfg. And I can customize for your needs.