Thoughts about Imaging

My transferable thoughts about imaging which have can combined from Mac and the MS world. It’s all about the thin and scripting. I like many were using Full disk golden clones, every time a new update came out or a new department was made this equaled a headache. I also found issues with incremental updates and adhoc builds.

At one of my employers we were Mac heavy using the above methods and rapidly increasing. I then put a plan into action but how did I get from 1hr+ with manual work to 27 minutes with a cup of tea config? Easy when I look back at it but it did take some work. I did some testing with Deploystudio & Munki and soon learnt this allowed for incremental updates and workflows to live client and deploying clients. With a massive brucie bonus of manageable  departmental builds.

How did VMware help me here. Simple I put everything on my MacBook Pro Lab from the magic triangle for joining Mac’s to the domain and Mac servers to catalogue the apps and deploy them to clients.

Sure there are paid tools like JAMF Casper Suite but again you may not be big enough to justify this due to your Mac estate and its another thing to learn. The best part about Munki and Deploystudio is they are free apart from some of your time to get your first image right. There are also plenty of documents out there to get you started or drop me a tweet and I will do my best to help!

To help get you started head of to a great set of guys Amsys. This guide is for V1 but really best to start at the beginning with this stuff . Who needs a massive training course!

You don’t get this with an AD plugin! Also remember your time this is a major justification for a shiny new Mac server. It probably less than you building all these mac by hand each time☺





Portable Lab



MacBook Pro – The uber portable lab in my humble view ☺ You can learn things like nested ESXi and in my previous roles I have had a whole environment test lab on an unsung hero: VMware Fusion.

Need business justification well how about this is an ideal training tool towards your certifications for VMWare, Hyper-V and Mac!

You are now probably in an uproar about argh thats only got 512GB SSD, That my friend is where Linked clone disks come in. They just save so much space and snapshots making it so easy to recover from scripting errors.  When I was building my imaging system I could cut down deployments to seconds rather than minutes.

If you did this for Windows I looked at the spec of a similar laptop in January. I searched out a  i7 512gb SSD 16gb ram and thin + Workstation but then its all Hackintosh + Cost of OS & EULA hell from Apple.  The best I could find from a major vendor was a HP Z Book £3400 vs £2100 for laptop and then cost of Fusion and copies of os included to deploy.

The only other I could fine was coming in at circa £1300 but not as big SSD or screen, I believe this was an Asus Zenbook which I know some people stay clear of but I see no issue with it.

Also if you want to save a pretty penny of two go check out VMUG Advantage with this you even get access to Vcenter as part of the EvalExperience for 365 days! If you want to refer LonVMUG or SWVMUG that would be great 🙂

Its all about the RAIS

RAIS… Don’t you mean RAID…. Nope! No I do not. It means redundant array of inexpensive servers.

This all started with the Xserve journey prior to Apple killing it off. Many people who implemented this either put in a Mac Pro or even a Mini as hardware backup to the main Xserve. V2 of the RAIS Theory was the released of a Mac Pro with a Mac Mini leaching off it to eventually V3 being two Mac Minis.

All of these had a common issue apart from the Xserve which was a lack of KVM, Remote Management and AC power switching. This usually added lots of money or it needed to be housed onsite and not in a data centre. Manual leg work was required if the thing didn’t power back on if it for once did completely hang. But How has VMware filled this gap and fixed the weaknesses in RAIS

Well my view for this in a real world usage it is win-win solution for managing Apple devices and remote office deployments. Basically get yourself a few nice spec Mac Minis, add some shared storage, A VMware licenses for your what you need. This then equals a great remote office solution, mac management, MDM, deployment much better than an AD plugin

A bit of a bad joke but its all about the right tool for the job. In some cases its like putting VMware in rather than Hyper-V! Unless you are an SMB or a MS House stick with the known brand! (VMware in this instance). So now you think this is costly, well be surprised its around £4500 for a synology with SSD / 3TB storage, Mac Mini + SSD + VMWare Essentials vs £4600 for a similar spec tower Dell*. With the solution you at least get resiliency to a bigger scale and power savings overall.

How can can save even more. Well thats simple buy 2nd user Xserve or Mac pro of both on the VMware HCL and you can spend even less than then £4500 with Xeon processors to boot!


*Specified around Jan 2015

Mac OSX Similarities

I briefly spoke about the similarities between Mac and the Windows world at VMUG back in January so I thought I would just highlight over these and a few resources you could use.

Active Directory vs Open Directory


AD directory

Group Policy vs MCX/Profile Manager

gp Untitled




Actually so what are the differences – it’s all just terminology. You can really start to gain control by using the magic triangle linking AD and OD together to provide single sign on and settings. Active Directory is then used for authentication and Open Directory for settings like Group Policy.

So what else would I get with a Mac on my network? Well there is also NetBoot which is WDS and VPN server being routing and remote access

So you want to learn more… head over to and you can even get a certificate for $65! Something nice to add to your CV for around 4 hours of your life