Windows Deployment Services is a role for Windows Server that goes hand-in-hand with Microsoft Deployment Toolkit. Using WDS with MDT, you can have your server respond to PXE requests and provide the MDT WinPE environment to simplify deployment across your network. It should be noted that Windows Deployment Services cannot be installed on the lower overhead, Server Core configuration of Server 2012 R2 or Server 2016 (based on Technical Preview 4).
This article will run through the simple steps it takes to install WDS, launch it, and have it working for you quickly. I am assuming you have DHCP and DNS on the network already, otherwise that is another role you can add to this server.
Launch Server Manager. Under Manage, choose Add Roles and Features.
In the Add Roles and Features Wizard, choose to work on the local server and under Server Roles, check the box for Windows Deployment Services.
This will prompt to install the Remote Server Administration Tools features, specific to WDS. Choose to ‘Add Features’.
On the WDS specific Role Services, check the box for both Deployment Server and Transport Server. Click Next and proceed through the wizard until the installation is complete.
Now that WDS is installed, you may optionally restart the server. When you’re ready for the next step, create a folder for WDS on a secondary drive. It does not have to be very large, it depends on how you will use it but I am able to get by with less than 15GB of storage for the D drive.
Launch Windows Deployment Services, which you’ll find under Administrative Tools. When it opens up, expand Servers in the left-pane and right-click your server. Choose Configure Server.
Setting up WDS through the Configuration Wizard is pretty simple. It explains everything you need or need to decide, such as Active Directory integration, DHCP, DNS, and storage.
If you choose to use a folder on your system drive (typically C: drive) you will receive this warning:
“The volume selected is also the Windows system volume. For best performance and data reliability, the remote installation folder should be stored on a separate volume, and where possible, on a separate disk from the system volume.”
That is why we created the WDS folder on our D drive.
Enter the path to the folder on the secondary drive and proceed through the wizard.
Your server now has the full structure it needs to function. For integration with Microsoft Deployment Toolkit, it is just a matter of going to the Boot Images folder, right-clicking, and choosing to Add Boot Images. Then you just browse to the boot.wim files created in your DeploymentShare\Boot folder. Once that is added, your MDT share will be available over PXE.