The company I work for is a relatively small shop when it comes to virtualization and especially when it comes to Hyper-V. So that means I am usually working on individual host servers and not doing any kind of grand scale configuration using SCCM or some other enterprise level tool. I think most folks in small-to-medium size businesses with existing infrastructure probably have a similar “use-case scenario” when it comes to Hyper-V.
We use Hyper-V primarily for development and test servers and often enough I get asked to deploy new servers. Now, the way I used to go about doing this was to create a new blank server, new empty VHD file, insert Server 2012 (or 2008 R2 or whatever…) CD/DVD ISO file and install from scratch. In this case, the actual install isn’t all that bad. Server 2012 particularly installs quite quickly. However downloading and installing all of the bloody Microsoft updates can take hours, tack onto that configuring the server for our environment and well, it gets to be a couple hours of work at least.
I actually do hold to the belief that often your best employees (especially in IT) are your laziest ones… at least the lazy ones that have a spark of creativity and want to keep their jobs… because they innovate ways to be more lazy (read “more efficient”) whilst still getting their work done…
In a search to save myself several hours of work every time a new server was requested, I came across Hyper-V Manager’s (in this case I am in 3.0 and I am not sure about earlier versions and don’t want to take time to go look) “Import Virtual Machine” option. Now typically, I think, this is used for importing a box from another host server. However, there is a very useful option for my intended use case that presents itself during import. On the “choose your import type” screen you have the option of “Copy the virtual machine (create a new unique ID).” This wonderful feature means that you can import the same exported box over and over again onto the same Hyper-V host with no conflicts!