Windows Server 2008 R2 adds some new Hyper-V based technology called Native VHD. VHD (Virtual Hard Disk) is a file that simulates a hard disk. MS has been using it for virtual machines since Virtual PC and Virtual Server and published the format for others to use and integrate with. Normally, on a Hyper-V server we have lots of VM’s. What happens if we want the portability of VM’s but the power of a dedicated machine? Windows 2008 R2 allows us to have a small boot partition that surfaces (mounts) a VHD on another partition and boots from that. Now your VHD is on a dedicated server with all the performance that goes with it.
This gives us added flexibility, performance and drastically simplifies OS deployment.
That begs the question, what about Windows Deployment Services and ConfigMgr OS deployment? I don’t see WDS and OSD going anywhere but MS are strongly hinting that they only want 1 disk format in the future. ConfigMgr OSD is based on WDS. WDS and “Panther” (the installer used by Vista, W2008, Win7 and W2008 R2) all use WIM files. It appears that MS plan on moving away from there to only using VHD.
If you are using WDS for deploying dedicated servers that you’re likely using a captured WIM file. If so, you can switch from that to deploying VHD’s to W2008 R2 using Native VHD. What about your existing images? You’re not going to toss them aside. You could also use this to convert existing WIM’s into template VHD’s that you can stick into your VMM 2008 library for VM reuse.
There’s a free converter which will convert WIM to VHD, i.e. Windows Image Files to Virtual Hard Disks. There’s a video demo on the site to show you how it works.
Credit: Virtual Varia