Manually Provisioning 50 Windows 7 Virtual Desktops


A company has purchased Citrix XenDesktop 4 Standard Edition, and someone is given the task to manually provision 50 Windows 7 virtual desktops (their license did not include the excellent Citrix Provisioning Services) on a vSphere infrastructure

Of course this was not an optimal solution, would have been very easy to provision 50 desktops in no time at all with Citrix Provisioning Services, alas the $125+ per user saving was desired....


If anyone is considering/tasked with doing this, the main thing you will be interested in knowing is how long it will take. The answer is that you could get it down to just over

2 minutes per desktop

(basically as long as it takes to type out a few characters, do a few clicks of the mouse, login, activate and reboot)

The procedure is very simple:

Part 1:

Create your gold image and turn it into a template

Part 2:

Create a customization specification for your Windows 7 machine

Part 3:

Repeat this procedure in Stage 1 below for each desktop your want to create, then when they have finished going through the sysprep process (sysprep is inbuilt into the Windows 7 O/S and it is this that the vCenter customization uses) and are powered up and on the login prompt; complete stages 2 and 3.

Stage 1:

Right-click Gold-Image template and choose “Deploy Virtual Machine from this Template”
Give it a “Name:” , and choose an “Inventory Location”
Next >
Choose on which host or cluster you want to place the virtual machine
Next >
Choose which resource pool you want to run the the virtual machine within
Next >
Choose a datastore in which to store the virtual machine files
Next >
Choose disk format
Next >
Choose “Customize using an existing customization specification”
Next >
Tick “Power on this virtual machine after creation”

Note: Each virtual desktop actually takes around 30 minutes to complete stage 1; the machine boots and runs through sysprep using the vCenter customization wizard. It will reboot a few times and automatically be renamed and domain joined (if the customization specification is correctly configured)

Stage 2:

Put in the correct OU for XenDesktops
Login to the desktop
Activate Windows

Stage 3:

Add machines to the Citrix Desktop Delivery Controller and assign users