- Why are we wasting time on building installations and especially virtual images manually … not once, but multiple times by multiple people? Would it not make more sense investing the energy in adding value to the environments, such as adding hands-on-labs and walkthroughs?
- Is there no way in creating images the same way, ensuring consistency and therefore rapid adoption and stability?
- Would it not be great to fully automate the installation of the operating system, pre-requisite software, Team Foundation Server and Visual Studio Team System?
What have we achieved as part of the VSTS Rangers Virtualizing VSTS 2010 Initiative?
We recently delivered an internal VSTS Drive session to highlight this exciting VSTS Rangers initiative and share some of the achievements. Here are a few extracts from the information we covered and the highlights we thought are worth mentioning.
What else can there be?
Using the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT), a standard Microsoft Solution Accelerator, we created the VSTS Rangers image factory, which we have deployed in Holland and in Canada, with another factory emerging in South-Africa and another planned in the United Kingdom.
The core objectives of these factories are to:
The results include reduced effort, time and cost, and most importantly consistency of internal and external VSTS images. While we fully support the push model for images, we are introducing a decentralized model of automating the installation of the VSTS 2010 environments where needed. This not only empowers the field, but also reduces the latency and the traffic introduced with the push and download models we are used to and which are frowned upon in bandwidth-starving regions, such as Africa.
The factory is based on the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) … refer to http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee376932.aspx for more information.
The manual process of installing a single server TFS & VSTS virtual server that took anywhere from 12 to 24 hours, has been reduced to 6 hours installing two images concurrently, each using 1024MB of RAM … yes the installation, the configuration and the use of TFS and VSTS 2010 on a 1024MB RAM virtual image works, although the performance reminds me of 1980’s mini-computers.
Using decent (realistic) hardware … more iron … and configurations we have reduced the process to less than 3.5 hours elapsed and the install time to less that 2 hours.
“BUT” what did we really achieve?
Well, over the past few days I have been building many Single Server TFS and VSTS virtualised environments, based on MSDN or TRIAL media, using WSS 3 or MOSS. All I literally did was to create VMs, point at an ISO file, define machine name, CLICK … go away and return later to configure TFS, confirm continuation and completion of automated process, returning a while later to pickup the image. Admittedly it took a lot of planning, research and effort by the team to get this far, many midnights were celebrated by Paul fine tuning the scripts and us testing … but the result is definitely worth it!
The new and evolutionary concept could probably be compared to the new age fire and forget cruise missiles … compared to the Battle of Britain aerial combat, where pilots had to do everything themselves from beginning to end. The latter is obviously the manual step-step installation scenario, which is not bad, but I definitely love the automation better 🙂
… Photo credit: Kentron Division of Denel (Pty) Ltd . MUPSOW Cruise Missile Dropped from a Cheetah D Aircraft.
Were do I find a factory or more information?
So where do you go for more information if this initiative interests you? By default please feel free to contact the VSTS Rangers. If, however, you are located in South-Africa I would recommend that you chat to Zayd Kara who is building the South-African based factory and if you are in Holland to Paul Meyer, who is managing the Holland based factory and is also our esteemed VSTS Rangers Factory Manager, in short master 🙂
| MDT – Microsoft Development Toolkit | MSDN – Microsoft Developer Network | MOSS – Microsoft office SharePoint Server | SQL – Structured Query Language | TFS – Team Foundation Server | RAM – Random Access Memory | VSTS – Visual Studio Team System |