Build better VHDs with expanded SQL SysPrep support in SQL Server 2012 SP1 CU2

Editor’s Note: This post comes from Robert Hutchison, Program Manager, SQL Server. 

Hello everyone, today I wanted to let you know about some improvements we have made to the SQL SysPrep support in SQL Server 2012 SP1 CU2.  These improvements will allow you to leverage business intelligence and other SQL Server features in the VHDs you create for use on-premise and Windows Azure VMs.

What’s new?

Earlier versions of SQL Server supported the preparing of images by using SQL Server SysPrep. This enabled images to be prepared with desired features and then completed later. However, there were many major features that were not supported by SQL Server SysPrep. Expanding the supported features for SQL Server SysPrep to include SQL Server Analysis Services, SQL Server Integration Services, and shared features enables SQL Server SysPrep to be used in a wider variety of image preparation scenarios.

The following screen shows the set of features supported by SQL SysPrep in SQL Server 2012:

As you can see from the screen shot, the set of features is limited to Instance features.

The following screen shows the updated set of features supported by SQL SysPrep in SQL Server 2012 SP1 CU2:

The set of features supported for SQL SysPrep scenarios has been greatly enhanced to support some of the most requested features including Analysis Services, Integration Services and shared features such as Management Studio. This should make SQL SysPrep useful in a wider set of image preparation scenarios.

How can I use these new Sysprep features?

Since this functionality is being released in a Cumulative Update, some steps must be taken prior to leveraging them. Specifically a slipstream installation must be created in order to access the new functionality. Once the slipstream package is created, it’s just a matter of running setup in order to access this functionality.  The following screen shows the location for the SysPrep preparation:

Summary

The new SQL SysPrep functionality provides more image preparation options in cases where SQL Server is to be installed on the prepared image. This allows Windows images to be prepared that have SQL Server features prepared in advance. This provides streamlined process for on-premise as well as Azure VM image provisioning scenarios.

The following links provide more details on the topics discussed:

For details regarding SQL Server installation using SysPrep and configuration file generation, see the following site:

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee210664.aspx

For more information on creating a slipstream package that includes a cumulative update, please refer to the following excellent blog post by our team member Ahmed Ibrahim:

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/ai/archive/2013/01/14/installing-sql-server-2012-service-pack-1-sp1-cumulative-update-in-one-installation-using-sql-server-2012-product-update.aspx