Purchasing all of the various tools that your developers need in order to create the software, applications, and websites that your business requires can come as a major strain on your IT budget. Therefore, it’s always alluring to find out that a highly popular toolkit such as Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) comes free of charge. But is MDT the best choice for your organisation? In this article, we’ll look at the pros and cons of Microsoft Deployment Toolkit to see if “free” is really worth it.
What is Microsoft Deployment Toolkit?
Microsoft Deployment Toolkit is a free, easy-to-use product offered by Microsoft that is primarily designed to make it easy to deploy images to large numbers of physical machines. MDT runs on a dedicated server that may be physical or virtual and uses Visual Basic Scripts that enable the toolkit to execute various instructions on another machine or set of machines.
Benefits of MDT
The first and perhaps most significant benefit of MDT is the fact that it is a free toolkit. You won’t have to purchase MDT, nor will you have to pay any licensing fees to continue using it. This means that using MDT as opposed to purchasing another product can help you save on upfront costs. However, as we’ll cover in the next section, saving on these upfront costs does not always equate to long-term savings.
Since MDT is supported by Microsoft, you’ll have access to free support by submitting questions to Microsoft’s TechNet forums. You can also pay for phone support as well. However, since MDT is such a simple toolkit to use, the TechNet forums will likely be able to offer all of the support that you will ever need. As a Microsoft product, MDT works with any Windows-based IT shop. Integrating MDT with the most popular virtual machines such as Hyper-V and VMware virtual machines is a simple and straightforward process.
Another benefit of MDT is the fact that it is simple to maintain. Once you’ve taken the necessary steps to fully set up the MDT environment, created your task sequences, imported your hardware drivers and applications, and configured your reference virtual machines, very little maintenance is required to keep the toolkit up to date. Patches to virtual machines and application updates will both be infrequent.
All said, MDT is a toolkit that accomplishes its purpose of image deployment in a way that is simple and easy to use while also being free of charge. This makes MDT a very popular choice for organisations that need the ability to deploy images to a large number of virtual machines. However, in spite of the fact that MDT is completely free to use, there are still hidden costs associated with using MDT that will need to be considered.
Cons of MDT
While MDT may be easy to maintain and use once it is successfully implemented, the process involved with actually implementing MDT can be quite complex. This complexity comes at a cost, since all IT learning curves require time and resources to overcome. The time and resources required to successfully implement MDT create the largest indirect cost associated with using the toolkit.
Another indirect cost associated with using MDT is the fact that using MDT will require, at minimum, one physical server as well as one Windows Server 2012 license. Additional reference virtual machines that come with their own licensing costs may be required as well. While these licensing costs are typically minimal, they still add to the indirect cost of MDT.
MDT is designed for small-to-medium-sized environments that consist of less than 500 machines. While the toolkit can be used for larger environments, image deployment will take increasingly longer as the number of machines goes up. This costs time, which is an expense that needs to be taken into account when considering MDT if you plan to use the toolkit to deploy images to more than 500 machines.
MDT is a highly popular and effective toolkit for certain applications. The fact that it comes at no upfront cost is alluring and certainly adds to the toolkit’s appeal. However, it is also still important to take into account the various indirect costs associated with using MDT, as “free” doesn’t necessarily mean “free” in the case of Microsoft Deployment Toolkit.
If you are working within a small-to-medium-sized environment, don’t mind the learning curve associated with implementing MDT, and don’t mind purchasing things such as a physical server, a Windows Server 2012 license, and licenses for additional reference virtual machines, then MDT is an excellent toolkit to consider. After all, MDT is easy to use and maintain once it is implemented and does an excellent job of allowing you to deploy images to a large number of machines.
If you would like to learn more about MDT as well as the other options that you might have available, we invite you to contact Servers Australia today.