Using SCCM to make a VM in VMware Fusion

Chances are if you are in an environment that has both Mac and Windows users, you have some kind of Windows management tool in place for patch management, imaging, and other Windows services. At my company we've been preparing for a switch over to System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) to handle imaging, deployment, patch management, and inventorying our Windows systems.

If your organization uses SCCM to image out Windows machines, you can use that same service to build VMs in VMware Fusion. The nice thing about setting up VMs this way is that it gives those Mac users who need Windows VMs a comparable, if not identical, Windows experience as your Windows users. We've found this setup provides a more automated set-up experience as well, seeing as using the built-in deploy method doesn't quite work if you have to bind the VM to Active Directory with a unique computer name, run updates, install additional software if needed… etc. If the task sequence is set up in SCCM, that VM will have exactly what it needs. And if your SCCM team set up patching and binding within the SCCM task sequence, you get to skip those steps too.

Here's how it works.

1. VMware Fusion will need to be installed on the machine. You can either put that in your Mac image, or put it in Self Service to run an installer if/when needed. Open up VMware, and create a New VM. Select Create a custom virtual machine.

2. Select an OS type (all this really does is give a generic OS name to the VM you're building).

3. Tell VMware to create a new virtual disk.

4. Before you finish the configuration, click Customize Settings. This will save the VM without powering it on so you can made adjustments that require the VM to be shut down. We want that for this setup.

5. Save the VM in whatever location you prefer. The default is usually Documents/Virtual Machines.

6. I usually take this opportunity to adjust the Processors & Memory and Hard Disk sizes. Once I do that, the setting that really needs to be adjusted is the Network Adapter setting.

7. Change the Network Adapter setting to Ethernet. This will allow the VM to get its own IP, so it can do a network boot.

8. Once the VM boots up, hit F12 for the network service boot. Depending on what kind of computer you're building the VM on, you may have to push fn+F12.
9. If you have SCCM access on the LAN you're connected to (some organizations limit what connections can boot into SCCM, so check with your SCCM/network folks), it'll see the pxeboot and load the files needed and connect to the task sequencer.

10. Once the Task Sequence Wizard opens up, log in, and select the task sequence you want to install. These should have been configured by your SCCM team. 
Depending on how your SCCM Task Sequencer works, you should also get an opportunity to change the name of the computer for AD binding. It will then start installing the OS.

11. Once the install process is complete, log in with a network user account (or local admin created by the task sequence) and get into the OS on the VM. You should be good to go at this point.

I have noticed that testing this in VMware Fusion Pro 7 that it doesn't install the VMware Tools needed for automatic window size adjustment and some other features. All you have to do to get that installed is go into the Virtual Machine drop down menu and select Install VMware Tools.

Once installed, the VM will want to restart. After that, the VM is ready for further configuration.

Based on the testing I've done with this method of building VMs, it is much faster than transferring over a 10-20GB installer from the JDS/distribution point to then install and configure. This setup is way more automated which means you can let SCCM do the work of configuring the VM while you go get coffee… or whatever.

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