ADS Unplugged

Build a mobile ADS solution in 5 simple steps

Your boss has asked you to consolidate some under-used servers to save rack space. You also have some old Windows NT 4.0 servers you'd like to retire because their hardware is at the end of its life cycle. You decide to rehost these physical machines as virtual machines running on Microsoft Virtual Server 2005. Microsoft provides the free Virtual Server Migration Toolkit (VSMT) to help with this task, but it requires Windows Server 2003's Automated Deployment Services (ADS). Your migration deadline doesn't give you time to plan for and deploy ADS to your entire enterprise. So what can you do? You can build an ADS solution that you can move to where it's needed. This solution lets you perform the migration with no impact on or reconfiguration of your production network.

To create the mobile ADS solution, all you need is some basic hardware and software and a mobile cart in which you can move the solution around. You can build this solution in five simple steps:

  1. Get the gear.
  2. Build the mobile platform.
  3. Install and configure DHCP.
  4. Install ADS.
  5. Test ADS.

Note that this article assumes you're familiar with ADS. If not, check out the resources listed in the Learning Path box.

STEP 1. Get the Gear
To build the mobile ADS solution, you first need to find a cart or some other mobile platform to move the ADS solution around in. Next, you need to obtain a network switch (a four-port switch is sufficient) and a single CPU server with dual disks capable of running the ADS solution. You should select a standalone server that

  • is small in size and doesn't weigh too much to make it easier to move around.
  • has a gigabit network adapter to minimize ADS imaging transport times.
  • has more than one spindle so that the OS and ADS image storage can be on separate spindles to minimize disk I/O performance problems.
  • has enough disk space to handle ADS images.
  • has at least 2GB RAM to handle all the services running on the system.

For example, you might obtain a 1U rack server with a single 2GHz CPU, dual 160GB hard drives, 2GB RAM, and a Gigabit Ethernet network adapter.

Finally, you need to obtain the software that makes it all work. The software includes Windows 2003 Enterprise Edition Service Pack 1 (SP1) and ADS 1.1.

To test the solution, you need a test server that's preloaded with a Windows OS. It doesn't matter which OS version (e.g., Windows 2003, Windows 2000) is installed on this server. The test server needs to have Preboot Execution Environment (PXE) boot capabilities or have a PCI NIC that's supported by Windows 2003's Remote Installation Services (RIS) boot floppy disk. To make the test as fast as possible, I recommend that the test server have only one partition and only the OS loaded on it.

STEP 2. Build the Mobile Platform
After you have the cart and necessary hardware and software, you can build the mobile platform. Begin by loading Windows 2003 Enterprise Edition SP1 on the server. I'm assuming that you have loaded Windows OSs before, so I won't provide instructions. (If you need help, refer to the installation instructions on the Windows 2003 CDROM.) Use the following parameters during the installation:

  • Server name = MobileP2V
  • Static IP address =
  • Subnet mask =
  • No gateway

On the first disk, reserve 40GB for the OS (C drive) and reserve the rest for storing ADS images (D drive). Format the second disk as one partition for storing virtual machine (VM) files (E drive). You can use any available drive letter for the CD-ROM drive. I use the Z drive.

After you've installed Windows 2003 Enterprise Edition SP1, connect the server to a network that has a local patch management solution, such as Microsoft Software Update Services (SUS), and apply the crucial security patches. Alternatively, you can get patches directly from Windows Update. You also need to install all new network hardware drivers. Note that you might have to configure the server for DHCP-enabled addresses instead of a static address to install the patches and drivers. If you do so, remember to reconfigure the server back to the static address afterward.

After the server is loaded and patched, you can disconnect it from the production network and connect it to the four-port switch. I highly recommend that you purchase a Gigabit Ethernet switch to minimize the imaging transfer time.

STEP 3. Install and Configure DHCP
For ADS to image source servers, the source server must be PXE bootable and a DHCP server must be on the network to provide IP address information. Because the mobile ADS solution will be isolated from your production network, the solution must provide the DHCP services.

You need to install DHCP before you install ADS so that the ADS installation will automatically configure DHCP to support ADS. To install and configure DHCP, you can use the Configure Your Server Wizard or the Control Panel Add or Remove Programs applet. The Configure Your Server Wizard is basically a scripted front end to the same process you would go through if you used the Add or Remove Programs applet. Here's how to use the wizard to install and configure DHCP:

  1. Insert the Windows 2003 CD-ROM into the CD-ROM drive. Click Start, select Administrative Tools, then choose the Configure Your Server Wizard option.
  2. On both the wizard's opening page and the Preliminary Steps page, click Next. In some instances, you might be prompted with a Configuration Options page. If you get this page, select Custom configuration and click Next.
  3. In the Server Role page, which Figure 1 shows, select DHCP server, then click Next. You should be on the Summary of Selections page, which just lists all the roles that you selected for installation. Click Next to start the installation of DHCP.
  4. A new wizard will appear. The New Scope Wizard walks you through creating a scope for the DHCP server. Click Next to start the process. The wizard first asks you for a unique name and description for the DHCP scope. Enter a name that you'll be able to easily recognize as the DHCP scope. After you enter a name and description, click Next to continue.
  5. On the IP Address Range page, set the IP address range that the DHCP scope will hand out to any machine requesting an address. You need to allow for the number of active source machines plugged into the Gigabit Ethernet switch and possibly that many VMs running simultaneously, so 10 addresses should be sufficient for a four-port switch. Set the starting IP address to and the ending IP address to, which gives 10 available DHCP addresses. Set the length to 24 bits (a subnet mask of, and click Next.
  6. You don't need any statically assigned addresses in the DHCP address pool, so you don't need to specify any exclusions on the Add Exclusions page. Click Next to skip this page.
  7. The Lease Duration page defines how long a client can use an IP address. The default lease duration of 8 days should be more than enough, so accept the default value and click Next.
  8. In the Configuration DHCP Options page, you typically specify any additional options you want to provide to DHCP clients. In the mobile ADS solution, you need an option to support the PXE server location. However, the ADS installation will configure that option for you, so select No and click Next.
  9. Click Finish to complete the installation of DHCP, then click Finish to close the Configure Your Server Wizard.
  10. In the Manage Your Server summary display, the DHCP role should be listed as one of the roles configured for the server. Select the Manage this DHCP server option for the DHCP role to launch the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) DHCP snapin. You'll see MobileP2V listed in the left pane. Expand the display so that you see Scope \[\] xxxxxxx (where xxxxxxx is the scope name you entered in Step 4) and Server Options listed. Select the scope, rightclick it, then select Activate. DHCP is now operational with a functioning DCHP scope that will serve addresses on the Gigabit Ethernet switch to enable PXE boots.

It's a good idea to test DHCP. After you make sure that your test server is configured to use DHCP, connect it to the switch and run the command

ipconfig /renew 

Make sure that the returned IP address is in the range from to You can also look in the DHCP snap-in to verify the address was assigned.

STEP 4. Install ADS
With DHCP installed and operational, you can install ADS 1.1. You can download ADS from the Microsoft Web page at In this page, you'll see a link to download the technical documentation. The ADS download includes this documentation, so you don't need to download it separately. Here are the instructions to install ADS on the MobileP2V server:

  1. Run the self-extracting executable and put its contents into the C:\Temp directory on the MobileP2V server.
  2. Double-click ADSSetup.exe to start the installation.
  3. On the Welcome to Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Automated Deployment Services page, click Install Microsoft SQL Server Desktop Engine (MSDE).
  4. After MSDE installs, click Install Automated Deployment Services - Setup to launch the Automated Deployment Services Setup Wizard.
  5. On the welcome page, click Next.
  6. On the License Agreement page, review the license agreement. If you agree to the terms of the license, accept them and click Next.
  7. On the Setup Type page, select Full Installation, then click Next. You'll see a warning regarding installing PXE. Because the mobile ADS server will be isolated, this isn't a problem, so click OK.
  8. On the Configure the ADS Controller page, leave the default settings and click Next.
  9. On the Network Boot Service Settings page, select the Prompt for the path when required option. At the bottom of the page, select the Configure these services now option, which automatically configures the DHCP service to interoperate with the ADS PXE service. Click Next.
  10. On the Windows PE Repository page, select the Do Not Create a Windows PE repository option. Click Next
  11. On the Image Location page, type D:\IMAGES in the Path to folder text box. Click Next.
  12. If the ADS setup program detects more than one network adapter on your server, it displays the Network Settings for ADS Services page. In the Bind to this IP address text box, specify as the IP address that ADS should bind to for services, then click Next.
  13. Click Install.
  14. During installation, the setup program creates a certificate that's used to authenticate destination devices. After the installation completes, create a directory called D:\ADSCERT, share it as ADSCERT, and copy the C:\Program Files\Microsoft ADS\Certificate\Adsroot.cer file in that directory.
  15. In the C:\Program Files\Microsoft ADS\Samples\Sequences directory, doubleclick create-templates.bat to install the ready-to-run job templates.
  16. Check the Event Viewer to make sure that no errors occurred during the installation process.

You can use the MMC ADS snap-in to make sure that all the ADS services (i.e., Controller Service, Image Distribution Service, and Network Boot Services) are in the connected state. To launch the ADS snap-in, select Run on the Start menu, type ads.msc, and click OK. Click the Services folder. As Figure 2 shows, the right pane then displays the status of the three ADS services. The State column should read Connected for each service.

STEP 5. Test ADS
To ensure that ADS is operating correctly, you need to use the test server, which we'll name TESTSERVER, to perform some basic functions. However, you first need to install the ADS Administration Agent on your test server and add TESTSERVER as a device on the ADS Controller.

To install the Administration Agent, connect your test server to the network switch on your mobile ADS solution. Copy the ADS files from MobileP2V to TESTSERVER. After the ADS files are in place, double-click ADSSetup.exe and select the option to install the ADS Administration Agent. The Administration Agent Setup Wizard appears and walks you through the installation process. On the Configure Certificates page, select the Now option and type \\mobilep2v\adscert\adsroot.cer as the path to the certificate. On the Configure the Agent Logon Settings page, select None for the agent's logon settings.

To add TESTSERVER as a device on the ADS Controller, you can use the ADS snapin. In the console tree, right-click Devices, then select Add Device. Type TESTSERVER for the device name and click OK. In the right pane, right-click the device, select Take control, then click OK.

After you've made TESTSERVER a controlled device, you need to set the default template on TESTSERVER so that it always boots into the Deployment Agent. To do this, right-click the TESTSERVER device, then click Properties. In the TESTSERVER Properties dialog box, select boot-to-da in the Default Job Template drop-down list box.

Now that the necessary preparations are complete, you can run one of the sample scripts in the C:\Program Files\Microsoft ADS\Samples\Agentscripts folder to make sure ADS is operating correctly. In the ADS snap-in, rightclick the TESTSERVER device, then click Run job to start the Run Job Wizard. Click Next. On the Job Type page, click Create a onetime job, then click Next. On the Description page, enter test job as the job's description and click Next. On the Command Type page, click Script or executable program, then click Next. On the Script or Executable Program page, enter C:\Program Files\Microsoft ADS\Samples\ Agentscripts\Cpuspeed.vbs in the Path to file text box. Make sure that the Send to the device check box is selected, then click Next. Click Finish to complete the wizard and run the job. Make note of the Job ID that appears after the wizard runs.

To view the results of the job you just ran, click History in the left pane of the ADS snap-in. In the right pane, double-click the Job ID of the job you just ran. If you see TESTSERVER's CPU speed in the job history results, you've successfully configured ADS. However, you're not quite done yet. You still need to make sure Network Boot Services is working properly.

To test Network Boot Services, boot TESTSERVER using the built-in PXE boot client or the RIS boot floppy disk. After TESTSERVER boots, the test server should get an address from the DHCP server, contact Network Boot Services to download the ADS Deployment Agent image, download the image into memory, start the agent, and show that the Deployment Agent is in a connected state, as Figure 3 shows. At this point, you've verified that the ADS task sequences are working, DHCP and Network Boot Services are working, and that you can use jobs to remotely control the test server.

Just the Beginning
Now that you have an operating mobile installation of ADS, you can go to any server in your enterprise, unplug it from the production network, plug it into MobileP2V's network switch, and use ADS to capture or deploy an image. In future articles, I'll show you how to expand the mobile ADS solution to include Virtual Server 2005 and VSMT and walk you through an image capture of the test server. I'll also explain how VSMT works and demonstrate how to use the mobile ADS solution to perform physical machine to virtual machine migrations.

Solutions Snapshot
You need to rehost several physical machines as virtual machines running on Virtual Server 2005, but your deadline doesn't give you time to plan for and deploy ADS to your entire enterprise.
Build a mobile ADS solution that you can move to where it's needed.
Mobile cart, server (with monitor, mouse, and keyboard), four-port network switch, cables, Windows 2003 Enterprise Edition SP1, and ADS 1.1
3 out of 5


  1. Get the gear.
  2. Build the mobile platform.
  3. Install and configure DHCP.
  4. Install ADS.
  5. Test ADS.
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