Understanding the Windows 7 Deployment Life Cycle : Scaling the Deployment Process

9/4/2012 9:28:46 PM
How many people do we need for the image team? Should they be centrally located or distributed around the world? Who is going to evaluate the client roles required for each branch office? Where should we create and update the image files? These are just a few of the hundreds of questions that go beyond the scope of the imaging process as described in this training kit. What’s more, in a large enterprise deployment, administrators must discuss, codify, and document the answers to these questions, not just handle them informally as the project proceeds, as is often possible in a smaller enterprise.

Image design and creation is just one part of a lengthy and complicated workstation deployment process. Windows 7 desktop administrators involved in a large-scale deployment must understand that they are part of a much larger and farther-reaching process than they might imagine. The deployment process begins long before they design and create their first image file and ends long after they complete the final workstation installations.

Viewing the Highest Level

The tools and documentation included in Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) 2010 cover the basic tasks of the Windows 7 workstation deployment process. Deployment Workbench, the primary MDT 2010 tool, is shown in Figure 1. The deployment process includes such hands-on tasks as building a reference computer, capturing image files from it, and deploying those image files to the target workstations on the network. However, these tasks are just a subset of the entire enterprise deployment process.

The Deployment Workbench tool from Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2010

Figure 1. The Deployment Workbench tool from Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2010

When Windows 7 desktop administrators take part in a large-scale workstation deployment, they are often required to devote themselves primarily to the technical details of the project, or possibly the details of one small part of the project. For this reason, they often lose sight of the big picture—the high-level conception, planning, and supervision that make a large IT project possible.

In previous MDT versions, including MDT 2008, the documentation supplied with the package included a “Planning Guide,” a series of job aids, and other documents that defined the place of the MDT deployment process within the bigger picture of an IT service life cycle. However, beginning with MDT 2008 Update 1, Microsoft removed this high-level documentation from the MDT package, in an effort to streamline what was already a document-heavy product.

This was a reasonable decision because the inclusion of the “Planning Guide” and other documents implied that every MDT deployment required a massive organizational effort, which is simply not the case. 

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For those familiar with the “Planning Guide” and other MOF-derived documents provided in MDT 2008, be aware that these documents are based on Microsoft Operations Framework 3.0. Compared to MOF 3.0, version 4.0 expands the scope of its guidance beyond operations to cover the entire IT service life cycle.

There are also substantial changes in the organization and nomenclature of the framework. For example, MOF 3.0 divides the IT service life cycle into four units that it calls quadrants, while MOF 4.0 defines three elements, known as phases. The “Microsoft Operations Framework Foundations” document (version 2.5, included as part of the MOF 4.0 IT Pro Quick Start Kit) includes a detailed discussion of the differences between MOF 3.0 and MOF 4.0, as well as a table that maps the 3.0 elements onto their 4.0 counterparts.

More Info


The core Microsoft Operations Framework 4.0 package, plus a number of updates and ancillary documents, is available free of charge from the Microsoft Download Center at

Introducing the MOF

The goal of MOF 4.0 is to define the entire life cycle of an IT service, beginning from the initial recognition of a need, proceeding through the planning, building, and deployment processes, and culminating in operation and finally retirement. The basic structure of the life cycle, as illustrated in Figure 2, consists of three distinct phases: Plan, Deliver, and Operate, all of which are figuratively surrounded by—and answerable to—a Manage layer.

The phases of the MOF life cycle

Figure 2. The phases of the MOF life cycle

The three phases are defined as follows:

  • Plan. The Plan phase refers not to specific IT service deployment plans but to a generalized understanding between the IT department and the business management elements of the organization. The object is for these two elements to reach an understanding about how IT services will support the business, how the reliability of IT services will be managed, ensured, and supervised, and what financial structure will support the organization’s IT strategy.

  • Deliver. The Deliver phase encompasses the actual conception, planning, implementation, testing, and deployment of IT services. The MDT 2010 deployment process occurs primarily in the Deliver phase.

  • Operate. The Operate phase defines the procedures that ensure the stable operation, maintenance, and support of the deployed IT services. This phase also includes the eventual retirement of IT services at the end of their life cycles.

Using Service Management Functions

These phases are described in a series of white papers called service management functions (SMFs), each of which defines processes and activities for a specific aspect of each phase, as well as the roles of the people who perform them. Table 1 lays out the SMFs for the Plan phase.

Table 1. Service Management Functions for the MOF Plan Phase



Business/IT Alignment

To recognize the needs of the organization and define a portfolio of IT services that address those needs


To establish performance standards for IT services that meet the organization’s requirements for service availability, continuity, capacity, and data integrity


To define a set of policies for IT services that meet the organization’s requirements in matters of security, privacy, and appropriate use

Financial Management

To estimate, optimize, and account for the costs involved in delivering IT services throughout their life cycles

Table 2 describes the SMFs for the Deliver phase.

Table 2. Service Management Functions for the MOF Deliver Phase




To conceptualize a solution to a particular need of the organization in the form of an IT service and define the scope and potential risks involved in implementing the project

Project Planning

To create a project plan that specifies the design and features of an IT service that addresses the stated needs of the organization and is agreeable to all stakeholders involved in the project


To implement an actual solution that meets the specifications defined in the project plan and the expectations and requirements of all the stakeholders involved in the project


To fully test the solution, using laboratory or pilot deployments, and resolve any issues exposed by this testing so as to create a high-quality solution that fully meets the specifications defined in the project plan


To implement the solution in a production environment in a manner that fully meets the expectations of all stakeholders in the project, as well as to smoothly transfer responsibility for the service from the project team to the operations and support personnel

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The SMFs of the Deliver phase, as well as the Operations SMF from the Operate phase, are largely derived from the Microsoft Solutions Framework (MSF) process model. MSF is a collection of documents that are primarily intended to govern database and application development projects but are adaptable to other large scale IT projects as well, such as workstation deployments. Unlike MOF, the MSF documents do not attempt to cover the entire life cycle of an IT service, just the tasks involved in envisioning, planning, developing, stabilizing, and deploying the application or service. 

Table 3 describes the SMFs for the Operate phase.

Table 3. Service Management Functions for the MOF Operate Phase




To define the procedures needed to operate IT services while minimizing down time and maximizing efficiency

Service Monitoring and Control

To observe the ongoing health of IT services, anticipate potential problems, and take proactive steps to minimize the impact of those problems should they occur

Customer Service

To provide efficient and positive assistance to users of IT services, and address all complaints and other issues raised by those users

Problem Management

To predict potential problems and devise problem resolution procedures that generate workarounds and permanent solutions

The SMFs in Table 2 represent a sequence of procedures for a project in the Deliver phase. In the Plan and Operate phases, however, the processes defined in the various SMFs can in many cases occur simultaneously.

The Manage layer, which applies equally to all of the MOF life cycle phases, is designed to create a decision making, risk management, and change management infrastructure that is consistent throughout the life cycle of an IT service. The Manage layer too has its own SMFs, as listed in Table 4.

Table 4. Service Management Functions for the MOF Manage Layer



Governance, Risk, and Compliance

To establish policies that delegate authority, accountability, and responsibility for the outcome of IT projects, assess the likelihood and possible impacts of actions taken or not taken, and ensure that everyone involved in a project is aware of and adheres to the policies and regulations resulting from senior management decisions

Change and Configuration

To manage project and service changes in a predictable and repeatable manner, while minimizing the risks inherent in those changes


To define the roles of all team members involved in an IT service life cycle, including their responsibilities and accountabilities, and assign those roles to specific individuals

Management Reviews

Finally, the MOF life cycle model includes milestones in the form of periodic management reviews that evaluate the current state of the project and signal its readiness to move forward. These management reviews, and the phases with which they are associated, are listed in Table 5.

Table 5. Management Reviews in the MOF Life Cycle

Management Review



Service Alignment


To evaluate a recognized need as having the potential to become a new project and, if it is approved, initiate the process of gathering information from management and stakeholders



To evaluate the proposal for a new project and, if it is approved, form a team, draft an initial project charter, and signal the Deliver phase to commence

Project Plan Approved


To evaluate a completed project plan and, if it is approved, signal the commencement of the Build stage

Release Readiness


To evaluate the results of the Stabilize process, confirm the satisfactory completion of all laboratory testing and pilot deployments, verify that the team has addressed all issues arising during those processes, and signal the readiness for the Deploy process to begin

Operational Health


To evaluate the current health of projects in the Operate phase and, if necessary, modify the procedures established during that phase

Policy and Control


To evaluate the current state of a service relative to the policies established during the Governance, Risk, and Compliance process and, if necessary, initiate changes to the compliance mechanisms currently in place or to the policies themselves

The phases of the MOF life cycle, along with their component SMFs and management reviews, are shown in Figure 3.

The phases of the MOF life cycle, with SMFs and management reviews

Figure 3. The phases of the MOF life cycle, with SMFs and management reviews

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